Take the Jess and Dow Survey

Do you use or remember jess or dow , words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’? If so, I would like to hear from you.

Colonists from the East of England brought jess and dow to New England in the seventeenth century. Four hundred years later, these special words for ‘yes’ and ‘no’ still survive in England and America today. 

New England migrants and their descendants spread out from Massachusetts to southern New England, eastern New Jersey and northern New York, later migrating east and north to Maine and Canada, and west to the Pacific. Cities founded by settlers from New England include Buffalo, Cleveland, Chicago, Denver, Seattle and San Francisco.

Is it possible that jess and dow travelled that far? If you know or use jess and dow, I would like to hear from you. Local pronunciations can vary. ‘Jess’ can be pronounced jearse, tjeahse or djess. For ‘dow’, some areas have dow (rhyming with cow), some have doo (rhyming with zoo), and others have doe (as in female deer); some areas even have toe.

The aim of my research is to find out how widespread jess and dow are in England and America, and how people use them.

The ‘yes’ and ‘no’ of New England’s Great Migration




    What year were you born?

    Where did you grow up?

    Where do you live now?

    Is your information about the area where you live now or where you grew up (or both)?
    Where I live nowWhere I grew up

    Is your area in England, the USA or Canada, or elsewhere?

    What is the zip or postal code of the area (or areas)?

    How would you describe your cultural heritage(s) (for example English, Hispanic, African-American)?

    Do or did people use jess/jearse and/or dow in your area?

    Do or did people use both jess/jearse and/or dow, or just one of them?

    If people still say jess/jearse and/or dow in your area today, who uses them?
    Older generationMiddle-agedYounger generation

    Who do you use jess/jearse and/or dow with?
    FamilyFriendsAt workEveryone

    How do or did people pronounce jess/jearse and/or dow (what words do they rhyme with)?

    How do or did people use jess/jearse and/or dow?

    Is jess/jearse and/or dow used in any other area(s) you know?

    Please feel free to add any further information

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