While watching Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, I heard the character Pete say the phrase "reindeer what fly" instead of "reindeer that fly". As a native English speaker, I have never used "what" that way before, nor have I heard anyone use it that way in real life. But I have heard it on TV before, so I'm thinking it must just be a regional thing.

Is this usage of "what" found in a particular dialect/region of English? If so, which one?

  • It's not American, maybe East London. Dec 29, 2022 at 14:57
  • Does this answer your question? Usage of *what* for *that* or *than* in BrE. The answer seems to be that it's Cockney or similar.
    – Stuart F
    Dec 29, 2022 at 15:48
  • @StuartF Yes, thank you! I'd be fine with this question being closed as a duplicate of that question.
    – T Hummus
    Dec 29, 2022 at 16:14

1 Answer 1


It is an informal, nonstandard usage What:

(Nonstandard) Which, who, or that: It's the poor what gets the blame.

  • Not a particular regional dialect, just general nonstandard usage (what in the past would have been termed 'uneducated'). Dec 29, 2022 at 16:15
  • @Kate Not closely associated with Morecambe? Dec 29, 2022 at 19:44

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