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These scattered indications, with others which might be mentioned, show that in every stage of our language these dialectical varieties have been recognised.
Before entering upon the dialect of our own county, I would call attention briefly to the peculiarities of the dialects of the other divisions, as now existing. Beginning with the south, let us glance at the Dorsetshire dialect, so ably illustrated by Mr. Barnes. The countryman has been comparing the town with the pleasures of rural life, and thus concludes
66 Zoo teäke vor me the town a-drown'd
'Ithin a storm o' rumblen sound.
A-rustlen near when brids be still.” *
“I was wan neart reding a story book about spirits, that com'd and draw'd back the curtains at the bed's voot. The clock had beat wan, when an owl screeched 'pon the top o' the chimley, and made my blood rin cold. I zim'd (thought) the cat zeed zummot; the door creaked, and the wind huldered howled) in the chimley like thunder. I prick'd up my ears, and presently zummot very hurrisome went dump, dump, dump! I would 'a geed my life vor a varden. Up I sprung, drow'd doun my candle, and douted (extinguished) ’en, and hadn't a blunk o' fire to teen en again. What could es do? I was afeeard to budge. At last I took heart, and went up steears backward, that nort mert catch me by the heels. I didn't unray (undress) myself vor the neart, nor teen’d (shut) my eyes, but healed (covered) up my head in the quilt, and my heart bumpt zo, ye could hear en, and żo I lied panking (panting) till peep o'day." |
* Barnes’s Hwomely Rhymes. Second Series, 1859. + Mrs. Gwatkin, Devonshire Dialogues, 1839.
The following is a slight shred of the South Saxon speech“Set ’n down and let ’n stand; come agin and fet 'n anon."*
We will now turn to the extreme north, and present the following specimen of the dialect spoken in “ Canny Newcassel.” The popular song, of which I give one stanza, describes the visit of a Newcastle Collier to London. Amongst other sights he says
“We went big St. Paul's and Westminster to see,
And aw war'nt ye aw thought they luick'd pretty,
Which maw friend ca’d the pearl o' the city ;
That biv it might scraflle the heaven,
Ye'd crack on 't as lang as ye 're livin!
'Bout Lunnun then divent ye myck sic a rout,
There's nouse there maw winkers to dazzle,
The following is a fair specimen of the Cumberland speech
“When we had gean aboot five mile, we com to an yale hoose whaar they wor tae be cock feightin, for it wur Pankeak Tuesda'. Theear stew'd at dure three young men; I kent 'em aw. • Whaar's tau gaain,' ses they. "To Sebber,' sed I. What mes tae cum this
way ? 'I've summut to leaav,' sed I. • What haesta i' the cart ? ' sed they. Woo,' sed I. Woo,' sed they, and wi' that
“ they com aboot it. I naw began to be freeten’d; yan on em tewk haud o' ma, and sweaar I sud drink wi' em." +
We will next turn to the North Riding of Yorkshire. The following is from a letter written by a Yorkshireman who had paid a visit to London,
* W. D. Cooper, Sussex Gloss. 1836. + Westmoreland and Cumberland Dialect, p. 27.
“I send to let te kna tat I got galy endwaies, but feafully ill tired. I fand it a faul long muckky griselee wey toot, on a whaint huge reeky blac spot, wen ye cum at it, bud it houds a mas o' fouks, nit yan at I ken. First seet I sa was a lile oud wummun we a mandful (basketful) of barn lakens * (children's toys or presents). Wa, sed I, what's tat ? Nesht seet I sa, war a girt hugh kirk, waud about wi' iron; it lukt like ony girt crag. Theu I met a girt clunterlee fello wi' a bottil (bundle) of besoms teed on his back; tey were mead o'woo garn; he caud um spun mops. Then I mop't up into a mirk ginnel (dark passage), an I sa a blinnd
Ι man wi his back up ogeean a wo: he beg'd hopenies.”+
But it is time to enter upon the proper subject under discussion. The first edition of Collier's Tim Bobbin was published in 1746. The following extract may therefore be taken as a fair specimen of the South Lancashire dialect about a hundred and twenty years since :
“A tealier e Crummel's time wur thrunk pooing turmits in his pingot (croft), on fund en urchon ith' had-loont-reean (headland gutter); he glendurt (glowered, stared) at 't lung, boh cou'd mey nowt on ’t. He whoav't (heaved, threw) his whisket oer 't, runs whoam, an tells his neighbours he thowt in his guts ot he'd fund a think at God newer mede eawt; for it had nother heeod nor tele, hont nor hough, midst nor eend. Loath to believe this, hoave a duzz'n on um would geawt see if they coudn mey shift t' gawm (understand) it, boh it capp'd um aw, for they never o won on um e'er saigh th' like afore. Then theyd'n a keawnsil; an th' eend ont wur ot tedyn fotch a lawm fawse (false, Lanc. for acute) owd felly, het on elder (called an elder), ot cou'd tell oytch think; for they look'nt on him as th' hammil-scoance (village-lamp), and thowt he 'r fuller o' leet thin a glow-worm. When theyd'n towd him th' kese, he stroakt his beeart, sowght (sighed), an ordert th’ wheelbarrow with spon-new trindle t'be fotcht. 'Twur dun, an they beawlt'nt him away to th' urchon in a crack. He glooort at
*“ Gregorius ascende eac Augustine halige lac.” Gregory sent also to Augustin holy presents.
Anglo-Saxon Homily on St. Gregory. + Dialect of Craven. 2 vols. 1828. Vol. ii. p. 36.
it a good while; droyd his beeart down, an wawtit (turned) it o'er wi' his crutch. • Wheel meh obeawt ogen oth' tother side,' sed he, "for it sturs, and be that it shou'd be whick.' Then he dons his spectacles, steart at it ogen, an sowghing sed, Breether, its summot; boh feather Adam nother did nor cou'd kersun it; wheel me whoam again.'
During the century which has elapsed since Collier published his book, the Lancashire dialect has undergone considerable changes. Many of the expressions introduced by him were becoming obsolete even in his time, and with the advance of education, and, of late years particularly, by the constant intercourse with other parts of the country, a great approximation has been made to the standard English of the day. The open broad rough pronunciation, and the propensity to contractions, still continue. This will be seen in the following extract from the “ Okeawnt oth' Greyt Eggshibishun,” by “O Felley fro' Rachde,” which may be considered as the popular dialect of the present day.
The “Felley” is sight-seeing at the Exhibition, when he relates the following occurrence :
“O mon coom un keawrt hissel osoide o' me, un aw sed, “This is o grand consarn, Maistur, isn't it?' E sed, “It 's grandest seet us evur aw seed e maw loife.' E sed, “Dun yo see weer that wattur fizzus op - aw meyn th’ krystil fountain ?' Aw sed, 'Ah, aw doo.'
• Wel,' e sed, 'that owd chap us stons theere, we leet-culurt breeches un leggins on, us maw fatthur, un e's beaun fur 't goo back we me; we coome t'gether bwoth on us.' Aw sed to him, • Aw say;' un e sed, “Wat dus t' sa ?' • Waw, aw sed, awl bet thee sixpennurth o' veyle pye us aw con guess weere bwoth thee un thee fatthur comn fro.' • Dun we thee,' e sed. • Well then,' aw sed, to come to th' point, yo’r Bowtun trotters.' • Heaw the dickons cou'd you foind that eawt ?' e sed, un e stayrt at meh loike o stickt sheep. Waw,' aw sed, 'I know'd in o minute when aw yerd thee tauk obeawt wattur and fatthur.' Aw sed, ‘Awme o Rachde felley, un we're meeterly fawse theere, aw'l warrunt te. Neaw,' aw sed, 'aw'l tell thee heaw fnr't foind eawt Bury folk
un that 's noan so far far fro Bowtun, theaw knows. When they 're talkin obeawt o chap gooin ony wheere, they olis sen e s beawn fut t goo; un they axen him i' this road, Wheere are t' beawn for t' goo ?'"
It will be observed that, whilst in the extract from Collier many words require explanation, in the latter there is scarcely one which is not ordinary current English, the variation being merely in the pronunciation.
We have next to consider what is the Lancashire dialect ? in what respect does it differ from the standard language of the country? what are its peculiar characteristics ? whence did they originate ? and how have they been developed ? The first step in the inquiry is to clear the ground by ascertaining what the dialect is not. It is not mere vulgarity and coarseness ; these may exist in every dialect and form of speech. Being the language of the common people, it expresses plainly, and it may be occasionally somewhat coarsely, their every-day thoughts and mode of life; but there is no essential vulgarity connected with these, any more than with the broad Scots dialect of Burns or Scott. Some persons, in their attempts to write the dialect, make
, it principally to consist in mis-spelling common words. “The modern books in our ‘Leod-cwyde' exaggerate its difficulties by purposeless mis-spelling; thus kole, blak, saime, farely, noboddi, minnit, notis, forin kuntry, and endless other divergences from the conventional mode of writing, without affecting the pronunciation, are to be deprecated."* There is no greater transgressor in this respect than the “Rachda Felley,” though in other ways his work is much to be commended.
The leading characteristics of the South Lancashire dialect may be comprised under the following heads : -1. Obsolete and peculiar words and phraseology. 2. Peculiar grammatical * T. Heywood On the South Lanc. Dialect, Chetham Society's Papers, vol. 57, p. 8.