U - V - W

U

UCHETER Uttoxeter. The town south of Stoke.

UNBREAKABLE POTTERY Impossible!  It is a well known and indisputable fact that pottery is useless if you drop it.
 
Sylvac Rabbit - broken, useless!


UNDERCUT Fault in mouldmaking which causes the cast pot to get stuck in the mould. The undercut prevents extraction of the pot from its mould, unless the clay has shrunk enough, during drying, to allow it to come free of the undercut.

UNDER FIRED Fault. The term which indicates that the piece has not been fired sufficiently to give the desired properties. May be too low a temperature was achieved in one part of the oven and the fireman didn't spot it. Insufficient heat work.

UNDERGLAZE DECORATION Type of decoration. Colours or patterns applied to the surface of biscuit ware prior to the application of the glaze. It is hardened on by firing in a kiln before the glaze is applied. Then it is glost fired. (Eg: transfer printing.) Because the decoration is completely covered by the clear glaze, it is extremely durable.

UNDERGLAZE DECORATOR Occupation. Decorating department. Most usually female.

UNDERGLAZE PAINTING Process. Freehand painting the complete design onto biscuit ware. The piece is the glazed and fired.  Also adding colour, by hand, to the decoration already applied to an underglaze print which has previously been hardened on. The piece will then be glazed and fired again to glost temperatures.

UNDERGLAZE TRANSFER PRINT Type of applied decoration using special ceramic underglaze colours. These are usually a mixture of pigment and flux. The colours are applied to the biscuit pot then fired in a hardening-on kiln. Glaze is then applied and the piece fired again. The decoration, being covered in glaze, is extremely durable, more durable than on-glaze decoration. Josiah Spode I is credited with having perfected the technique of underglaze printing in blue on earthenware in about 1784. Additional underglaze colours were not to be successfully produced until nearly forty years later.

Underglaze decorating from engraved copper prints.
Wedgwood, Barlaston. 1970. photo : by the author
Prior to this, colour printing other than blue was restricted. Colour was achieved by overglaze enamel decoration or hand coloured blue, brown or black prints. Black, purple and ochre were available but were not popular colours for ceramic decoration. It was only after much experimentation that new, mainly chrome based, colours were introduced that could withstand the high temperature glost firing required for underglaze decoration.

Another description ::: Underglaze colour printing

Josiah Spode I is credited with having perfected the technique of underglaze printing in blue on earthenware in about 1784. 

Additional underglaze colours were not successfully produced until nearly forty years later. Prior to this, colour printing other than blue was restricted. Colour was achieved by overglaze enamel decoration or hand coloured blue, brown or black prints. Black, purple and ochre were available but were not popular colours for ceramic decoration. 

It was only after much experimentation that new, mainly chrome-based, colours were introduced that could withstand the high temperature glost firing required for underglaze decoration. The new colours 'bonded' less well with the glaze than the blue; this meant that the appearance was less translucent and luscious but at the same time it led to a sharper image. Chrome Green which contains no cobalt gives a particularly sharp image as can be seen in the clarity of detail on items decorated with the Byron Views pattern. It was the most successful colour after blue. Chrome Green produced by the use of iron chromate, was introduced in c1822 followed by a series of other colours including brown, puce, orange and a blue-grey known as Paynes Grey. 

A common colour, particularly for sheet patterns is a khaki green known as 'Pigmuck Green' (for obvious reasons!), it is thought to have been made from the dregs of other unused printing colours. 

Underglaze pink was introduced around 1833 by adding a small amount of tin oxide to iron chromate; early examples are rare but the colour has been reintroduced several times in the history of the company.


Tumbledown Dick pattern on Marble sheet c1823

Spode was responsible for the first two-colour printing technique. The process, which was introduced around 1824 involved the use of a resist substance known as 'ackey' (the Potteries term for sticky and dirty). This protected a hardened-on print before applying an all-over sheet pattern. This allowed an image to be placed within a printed background of another colour. Tumbledown Dick on Marble Sheet is a classic example of this technique.



Many more dinner plates were made than any other shape but printed patterns can be seen on all shapes of table ware as well as toilet ware including leg baths, foot baths, chamber pots and bidets. Dessert wares were more often handpainted and gilded as they were subjected to less wear. Underglaze decoration for dinnerwares was popular because the design was protected under the glaze from damage the sharp steel cutlery of the time.

Trade Winds, a 20th Century Spode pattern is produced by underglaze printing. Click here> for more information.



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UP BONK Dialect. Up hill. Opposite to 'dine bonk' which is obviously down hill!

UPDRAUGHT Type of Bottle Oven. The simplest and most common type of bottle oven in the heyday of the pottery industry.


Updraught bottle oven diagram and external view
Bottle Oven - updraught.
Cross section diagram and external
drawing and photo: Terry Woolliscroft

The updraught oven consists of an inner chamber, the oven itself, with a domed roof called the crown, in which the pottery ware is placed and fired.  The oven is enclosed by an outer chamber called the hovel. The hovel acts as a chimney, taking away the products of combustion, creating draught and protecting the inside from the weather and uneven draughts. Sometimes the hovel became part of the factory workshops. Entry to the inside of the oven is through a doorway called the wicket. During firing the wicket is sealed with brickwork and daubed with clay to become the clammins. Firemouths, situated around the outside of the oven at ground level, are connected to brick flues and bags (small chimneys) on the inside of the oven. These carry the intense heat from the coal burning in the firemouths to the ware inside. The flues converge at the centre of the domed floor of the oven called the well hole. The heat rises up through the setting and then out through the top of the oven and up its chimney, or stack. At its peak the oven for the firing of biscuit ware could reach temperatures of over 1200 C. This updraught bottle oven could be used for firing both biscuit and glost ware.  More types of bottle oven here>

UPDRAUGHT STACK OVEN  These BOTTLE OVENS are ovens with their chimney stacks built together. This is the form developed when a series or row of ovens are grouped together under one roof, the stacks rising through the roof of the building. These ovens are solid and compact but they tended to be more difficult to repair and took a long time to cool down.

UPDRAUGHT SKELETON BOTTLE OVEN  This design of oven became very popular in the early 20th Century because it seemed to combine all the best qualities of the different types of updraught oven. It was simple in design and construction, relatively simple to operate, easy to repair and gave satisfactory results. more here>

USE Dialect. "Thay hadstna use be like this!"

UTCHETER A place name .  Uttoxeter. A few miles just south of The Potteries.

UVVER NUN NOVEL Potteries dialect for Oven and Hovel. A bottle oven. A kiln.


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V

VERGE Particular type of decoration to the edge of flatware.

VERMICULITE  Material.  Geological name given to a group of hydrated laminar minerals which are aluminium-iron-magnesium silicates, resembling mica in appearance. Rock and other impurities are removed from the crude ore which is then crushed and sorted into sizes. Vermiculite is a safe inert material and is light in colour. Insulating.  Used as grog in tunnel oven troughs.

VERTICAL PUG or PUG MILL or PUGMILL Equipment. Machine. Clay end. Sliphouse. A machine which replaced the process of wedging (or slapping, the older word for it) to prepare the 'plastic' clay for use. Knives rotating within a steel drum or barrel chop up the clay and force it forwards through a perforated grid into a de-airing vacuum chamber (like a mincing machine). From there it is consolidated and forced along a tapering barrel to be extruded through a die as a roll of clay having uniform plasticity. May be horizontal or vertical.

Vertical pug mill. Wedgwood 1960s
Vertical pug mill. Wedgwood 1960s


VESSEL BASIN Sanitaryware.  Sometimes called the lay-on basin. This basin is the simplest form of washbasin since it is designed to simply sit on a counter top, on furniture or on a shelf.  The basin has a central waste outlet and sometimes comes with no overflow. Taps are either fitted to the basin or are designed to be freestanding on the furniture.  Lay-on or vessel basins can be described as “minimalist” and ultra-modern.

VIBRO MACHINE Ovens department. Biscuit Warehouse. A large vibrating steel bowl, supported on springs, lined with rubber and containing ceramic chips.  The vibrations cause a rotation of the chips. Biscuit ware, earthenware or china, flatware or holloware, is placed in the bowl.  The ware is rubbed by the vibrating ceramic chips as it moves around the bowl clockwise. The ware is smoothed and polished as it is is rubbed vigourously.

Boulton Vibro-energy machine. Awaiting refurb and recommisioning.


VIBRO OPERATOR Occupation. Ovens department. Biscuit Warehouse. Person who first loads and then empties a Vibro Machine.  This smooths the edges of biscuit fired ware ready for glost selecting then glazing.

VISCOSITY The measure of a fluid's resistance to gradual deformation by shear stress or tensile stress. For liquids, it corresponds to the informal concept of "thickness". So for example, clay slip has a much higher viscosity than water. (Many thanks go to Jayne Packer for sending me this word, Oct 2015)

VITREOUS CHINA Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. Hotel ware or bathroom ware. Extremely durable. Very hard material. Non porous. Glass like but not see-through.




VITREOUS Not porous. Glass like.

VITRIFIED HOTELWARE Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions to create a vitreous (non porous) body with high strength for use in the catering industry where heavy use and constant rough handling occurs. As well as a high strength body careful design of the profile of the individual pieces will assist in resistance of chipping.

VITRIFIED WARE Pottery is said to be vitrified when it has been so thoroughly fired as to fuse the material into a dense, hard mass. Desirable for certain classes of ware, such as those used for hotels and institutions, where hard usage has to be sustained. Vitrified pottery is usually made in double or treble thickness and with rolled edges, a further safeguard against chipping.

VITRINA Brand name of a particular pottery body manufactured by Twyfords Ltd - sanitaryware. Non porous. Discontinued.

VITROMANT Brand name of a particular type of pottery made by Twyfords Ltd. of Stoke-on-Trent, sanitaryware manufacturers. Non porous.


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W

WAD Particular type of clay material used during the process. Fireclay or saggar marl. See below.





WAD BOX Equipment. Device used for the extrusion of cylindrical lengths of fireclay, or saggar marl, wads which are used as soft, spacer cushions between the individual saggars being placed in a bung in the bottle oven. See immediately below.

WAD CLAY Material used during the process. Rope-like strip of plastic clay. Used as a cushion between saggars when they are placed together, one on top of an other in a bung, in the oven. In addition to the effect of levelling the bung, wads also seal the uneven joint between the saggars, thus preventing smoke and fumes from the the fires coming into contact with the ware during firing. Made from fireclay or saggar marl specially formulated with its own body recipe to create wad. Contains a finer grog than saggar making clay. Wad should not crack, split or fly off during firing since it could spoil the ware (particularly glost ware). In 1820 the recipe was recorded as follows:   2 Barrows full Nockings from Common Slip House.  1 Barrow Full Tough Tom.

WAGGLER Equipment. May be specific to Wedgwood. Used in Figuremaking.  Specially-made metal tool with flat springy ends. Used by figuremakers to lift clay forms from the porous figure mould. Figures being the applied raised clay ornaments decoration on Jasper ware. 

WAIT Dialect. White

WAKES WICK Dialect. Holiday time. Hoorah!  Time to get away. A trip to Blackpool perhaps.

Wakes Week

WALES Dialect. Need grace occasionally, to keep them moving. Also near Rhyl.

WANKY Dialect. Weak. Tired. Mard

WANNA Dialect.  Was not!

WARE Pottery products. A general and an overall 'catch-all' term for pieces of pottery.

WARE BOARD Equipment. Used in most departments of the potbank. About 6 feet long, 9 inches wide and an inch deep. Made of good quality pine. Simply a board with rounded corners to carry ware about the potbank. Carried on one shoulder and supported with one hand, requiring some balancing skill. Sometimes called a work board.

WARE CLEANER Occupation. Biscuit warehouse.

WAREHOUSE Department in the potbank. Biscuit warehouse, glost warehouse, finished warehouse.

Warehouse for sanitaryware at Twyfords, Cliffe Vale in 1900

WARE PASS Occasional sale of seconds product at knock-down prices to the work force. Not universally used. Probably only heard at a Wedgwood potbank.

WARVING and WARVED Pottery fault.

WASHBASIN

British Standard washbasin.
This is a real LAVATORY but known in the sanitaryware trade as a TABLE
Confusing isn't it? 

WASHER OFF Occupation. In the print shop (transfer printing) of the decorating department or in the glazing department. The person who washes away the tissue paper leaving a colour pattern on the ware.

WASHING OFF Process. Removing the printing tissue paper after the print has been applied and rubbed down onto the ware.

WASHING OFF Process. Removing unfired glaze from biscuit ware. This is usually done when there has been a quality problem with the raw glaze before firing.

WASH BANDING Type of applied decoration. Onglaze. Thin layer of colour applied over a large area with a wide brush called sometimes, a pencil.

WASH BANDER Occupation. Decorating department. the person who uses a wide bristle brush (sometimes known as a pencil) to apply a broad band of enamel colour (the wash band) to the glazed pottery piece as decoration.

WAST?  Dialect.  Were you?

WASTER Faulty pottery. Very badly faulty. Similar to lump. Worse than seconds. Usually thrown away (sent to the shord ruck) or sold for export.

WATERSLIDE Process. Decorating technique - a name which may be peculiar to the Spode Factory in the late 20th C. Used to apply designs to glost or biscuit ware. Alternative names are "litho", "transfer print" or "decal". But transfer printing is actually an entirely different process.  The waterslide (litho) comprises three layers: 1) the backing paper on which the design is printed by screen printing or lithography, 2) the colour (image) layer which comprises the decorative design; 3) the cover coat, a clear or tinted protective layer which holds the colour in place as it is removed from the backing paper and place on the ware. This cover coat burns away in the firing process.

WATER SMOKING The period, during firing, where the last of the 'mechanical water' in a pottery body and glaze is released. Usually a firing will be taken to the boiling point of water and held there for the amount of time necessary to remove all the water (the 'water smoking soak'). The degree to which the drying process has removed most of the water determines soak time needed at boiling point, but also the temperature at which the water smoking soak can be conducted.

WAX RESIST Decorating technique. Patterns or designs are created by brushing a wax medium over an area of clay, slip, or glaze to resist the final glaze application when the wax is dry.

WC Sanitaryware. Water Closet. WC. A toilet. First known WC - 1592, invented by Sir John Harington, godson of Queen Elizabeth 1st. Not a lavatory. A lavatory is actually, technically speaking, a washbasin. Which in itself is not a sink. See toilet.

WEATHERING Process. Clay is stored outside before use (in a claybank) to allow the weather (rain) to leech out the soluble salts from the clay mass prior to use.

WEDGER Occupation. Mill and slip house or potting dept. The job of wedging the clay was done by the wedger. Large lumps of clay were raised above the persons head and then thrown down onto a bench or robust table with great force. This action was repeated several times. The action had the effect of driving out air bubbles in the clay making it more consistent and ready for the thrower to use. The job was usually done by a young boy or girl and the weight of the clay they had to manoevre was up to 15 kilos or 30 pounds. Today the job is done mechanically by a pug mill.

WEDGING Process. Lifting a large lump of clay, and throwing it down onto a hard rigid surface, to free it from air and render it more plastic. Also known in earlier times as slapping. The work of wedging was taken over by the pug mill.

A wedger, wedging

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WEDGWOOD Trade name for Josiah Wedgwood and Sons Ltd. Not, though, for Enoch Wedgewood of Tunstall, spelt with an e. Confusing for some. isn't it?

WEDGWOOD - SAVE WEDGWOOD. Sept 2014. The Wedgwood Collection, one of the most important industrial archives in the world and a unique record of 250 years of British art, is under threat of being separated and sold off. The Art Fund has the opportunity to buy it for the nation, if it can raise the final £2.74m of the £15.75m fundraising target by 30 November 2014. The public appeal has been launched to save the collection, which is being sold to pay off the ceramics firm's pension bill. The collection has 80,000 works of art, ceramics and pattern books, covering 250 years of history.




WEDGE WOOD Door stop. Not pottery. Wood. In the shape of a wedge. Keeps doors open.


Wedge Wood

WENCH A lady, or not. It depends! If not she may be a voluptuous female woman of the opposite sex, usually with a firey temper, and usually seen around taverns pubs, clubs and bars.

WELL Sometimes called the ashpit or the essole. The space beneath the firebars in the bottle oven's firemouth. Ashes from the burning coal above drop into the well which is then scraped out at intervals during the firing of the oven.

WELL HOLE Part of a bottle oven. The hole in the centre of the floor of a bottle oven. All the undefloor flues are connected to the well hole. During firing a pipe bung is placed over it.


WELL HOLE PIPES Part of a bottle oven, in the centre of the base of the oven. Another name for a pipe bung made with saggars with no bottom. Placed over the well hole to carry flames on hot gasses up the centre of the oven after placing and during firing.

WERRIT Potteries dialect word. Worry. Myther. 'Dunna werrit, duck.'  Don't worry!

WESH  - wash!

WETTING The habit of paintresses to lick their pencils (potters name for a brush) before dipping into coloured enamel prior to painting a glost pot. A bad habit since the foul chemicals thus imbibed may cause serious health problems.

WHAT SNOW similar to SNOW OUT or STIRRED OUT Dialect. Nothing at all to do with the weather. Part of a greeting - "do you know anything?"  Many thanks to David Broadhurst for suggesting this term for inclusion March 2016

WHEEL or THROWERS WHEEL

The Great Wheel - The Spode thrower's wheel
at Gladstone Pottery Museum, Longton, Stoke-on-Trent
WHEEL BOY Occupation. Potting shop. Thrower's assistant. Job for a young lad who turns the huge wheel for the thrower.

WHEEL GIRL Same as above but opposite sex. Obviously.

WHEEL TURNER Occupation. Potting shop. Thrower's assistant. Job for a young lad or girl who turns the huge wheel for the thrower.

WHIRLER Equipment. Tool. Used throughout the factory by modellers, mould makers, casters and more. But mainly in the decorating shops. The general name given to a small rotating table top supported on a tripod.

WHIRLER Pottery fault. Whirler is the exact opposite to HUMPER. A pottery flatware fault, refering to a plate with a bowed base so that it doesn't sit flat on a table but spins or whirls around. Giddy making.  Causes gravy to accumulate in a pool in the middle of the plate.

WHIRLERING Process. Casting. Clay End. Sometimes, to prevent wreathing, plaster of Paris moulds are spun on a whirler (revolving turntable) while they are being filled with slip.

WHITE GRANITE Type of pottery.  Name given to a kind of stoneware.

WHITING Material. Finely ground chalk. Used as a source of lime in pottery bodies and glazes.

WHITEWARE Type of pottery with a particular recipe and requiring particular firing conditions. The overall name to pots made from a white firing clay body. Earthenware or china.

WICK as in NECKS WICK.  Dialect. (I love this one!) Week as in Next Week.

WICKET Part of a bottle oven. The open entrance used by places and drawers to go into the oven with saggars to fill and empty it. (Sometimes incorrectly called the clammins, or clammins arch.) The open doorway to the bottle oven which is bricked up and sealed with clay at the start of the firing process.


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WIFF Smell. Pong. Stink. Not very pleasant.

WILLOW PATTERN Applied decoration. One of the most famous patterns in the pottery industry. Nearly always printed in blue, the pattern is of a pseudo-Chinese design and was first engraved by Thomas Monton in about 1780 and used by Caughley Pottery, of Shropshire, England. There are many variations of this pattern. Still used today.

WILKINSON OVEN Type of bottle oven. Downdraught. Patented 1890.

WINNING Getting clay out of the ground. China clay in Cornwall is washed from the hill side with high pressure water hoses. Ball clay from Devon and Dorset is either open-mined (using large mechanical diggers to extract huge lumps of it from the ground) or deep-mined (where it is mined somewhat like coal in cramped tunnels.)

WOE Dialect.  As in BRICK WOE




WORST SECONDS - Sometimes called WORSER SECONDS - Slightly more imperfect than SECONDS. Then there was a DEGREE WORSER which was worse that WORST SECONDS. Or even WORSER WORSER. But not THIRDS, just yet.

WOOD FIRING Process. Traditional method of firing using wood - compared with modern kilns and factory production using coal, gas or electricity. Studio potters in the 20th century revived the art of wood-fired kilns which give interesting and lively surface effects. In a properly designed kiln wood is capable of delivering high temperatures so it is possible to make stoneware and porcelain. Subjects the ware to a lot of ash and smoke and this affects its appearance. It is possible to fire pieces without glaze and the products of combustion of the wood will deliver enough fluxes to fuse the surface of the clay in a glaze-like manner.

WOODWOOL Material. Used in the packing shed. Straw-like shredded waste wood. Delivered in bales to the potbank to be used as packing material.

Woodwool - shredded pine wood, shredded into strips
A most excellent packing material which replaced straw


WOOLLISCROFT-RHEAD, GEORGE, 1855-1920 Trained in painting by Ford Madox Brown, the most important and individual artist to be associated with the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood. A painter, etcher and designer of stained glass and ceramics, George Woolliscroft-Rhead belonged to the mainstream of the Arts and Crafts movement. He was the elder brother of Frederick and Louis Rhead with whom he collaborated as an illustrator. George Woolliscroft-Rhead learned the technique of etching under the tutelage of Alphonse Legros and was elected a member of the Royal Society of Painter-Etchers and Engravers in 1883. In later years he taught at Putney School of Art from 1896 and subsequently became director of Southwark Polytechnic Institute.


Portrait of a gent in a smock


 ANOTHER BIOGRAPHY::   A talented pottery painter, etcher, illustrator and art teacher. He was an apprentice at Minton's acquiring the skills of pottery painting under W. S. Coleman . In 1871 Minton Art Pottery Studio was set up in Kensington Gore, London under the directorship of Coleman. George went to join him there as pottery painter. The studio was destroyed by fire in 1875. In 1877 George won a scholarship to the South Kensington School of Art where he was awarded a Certificate in Art Teaching in 1880. He spent time travelling Europe before settling permanently in London. In 1898 he was co-illustrator of Idylls of the King with his brother Louis. He also wrote several books on subjects such as etching, pottery, costume and the history of the fan. Perhaps he is best known as the designer of Queen Mary's coronation fan in 1911.

WOOLLISCROFT, TERRY Author of this, The Potbank Dictionary which was launched in January 1976. @woollisox

WOOLLISCROFT TILES Brand of pottery tiles - and a great name too! Long established in Stoke (actually in Etruria, a region of Stoke-on-Trent) and moved to Dorset. George Woolliscroft & Son started making tiles in around 1884, concentrating on floor tiles from 1910. In 2000 Pilkington’s Tiles took the company over and the floor tile range became Dorset Woolliscroft.




WOM Dialect. Home

WOM IT Dialect. "Go home!"

WOPPIT DialectWasp.

WORKING MOULD Equipment. Casting shop.

WORST SECONDS Faulty pot. More faulty and worse than seconds, similar to thirds, but not quite as bad as lump which is actually pretty awful. Possibly. Probably. (The dialect would be woss seconds).

WOSS Dialect. Worse.  "bad in bed and woss up."

WOST Dialect. Were you?  "Wost at th' Stoke match Satdee?" Not to be confused as the past tense of woss, it isn't.

WREATHING Pottery body fault. Sometimes occurs on the inside of cast whiteware. Appears as a lines or corrugations or raised crescents. Caused by incorrect deflocculation of the clay slip or too slow casting.

WRIGHTS PIE (Rite Spies) Nourishment. Potter's favourite local meat and potato pie.   "It was 1926, the year of the great depression, the year Queen Elizabeth II was born, the year Walt Disney Studios was formed and like many people who changed history, John James Wright, ‘The Workers Caterer’, was inspired to produce good wholesome food at a price the local Potteries people could afford. He sourced the best local ingredients from markets and abattoirs and carried the goods on his shoulders for two miles to his terraced house kitchen where he and his wife created some of the finest pies around. John was renowned for his good honest simple approach to food and through his shared passion for baking, passed down through three generations, ensure his values and key principles live on."

Wrights Meat and Potato pie - RITES SPIES

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WRISTER Kiln Furniture. Part of a bottle oven. Particular shape of scotch which were the width of a human wrist. Excellent description for use by placers working in a team to describe exactly what is required.

WROSTLE  Dialect.  Wrestle.

WUN Dialect Will!

WUNNA Dialect. Won't.  Definately will not!

WUT Dialect. Will you?

WUTNER Dialect. Would not. As in Shutner, Wutner, Conner. Or "won't you?"  Similar to WUT


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