English Dialects From the Eighth Century to the Present Day
by Walter W. Skeat
Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse

R. Ah, the shummaker told me o' that rum rig; and his nevvey sa, that the beer-good was fystey; and that Nutty was so swelter'd, that she ha got a pain in spade-bones. The bladethacker wou'd ha gin har some doctor's gear in a beaker; but he sa she'll niver moize agin.

R. Aye, the shoemaker told me of that comical trick; and his nephew says, that the yeast was musty; and that Ursula [was so] smothered, that she has got a pain in her bones. The thatcher would have given her some doctor's medicine in a tumbler; but he says, she will never recover.

Notes.—Pronounce du like E. dew. Snasty, pron. snaisty, cross. Fate, fait (cf. E. feat), suitable, clever. Mawther, a young girl; Norw. moder. Dibles: the i is long. Sa, says; ha, have, has; note the absence of final s in the third person singular. Cadder, for caddow; from caa-daw, cawing daw. Douw, for dow, a dove. Par: for parrock, a paddock. Fystey: with long y, from foist, a fusty smell. Sweltered, over-heated, in profuse perspiration. Moize, thrive, mend.


The following specimen is given in Miss Jackson's Shropshire Word- book, London, 1879, p. xciv. It describes how Betty Andrews, of Pulverbatch, rescued her little son, who had fallen into the brook.

I 'e{a}rd a scrike, ma'am, an' I run, an' theer I sid Frank 'ad pecked i' the bruck an' douked under an' wuz drowndin', an' I jumped after 'im an' got 'out on 'im an' lugged 'im on to the bonk all sludge, an' I got 'im wham afore our Sam comen in—a good job it wuz for Sam as 'e wunna theer an' as Frank wunna drownded, for if 'e 'ad bin I should 'a' tore our Sam all to winder-rags, an' then 'e 'd a bin djed an' Frank drownded an' I should a bin 'anged. I toud Sam wen 'e t{)o}{)o}k the 'ouse as I didna like it.—"Bless the wench," 'e sed, "what'n'ee want? Theer's a tidy 'ouse an' a good garden an' a run for the pig." "Aye," I sed, "an' a good bruck for the childern to peck in;" so if Frank 'ad bin drownded I should a bin the djeth uv our Sam. I wuz that frittened, ma'am, that I didna spake for a nour after I got wham, an' Sam sed as 'e 'adna sid me quiet so lung sence we wun married, an' that wuz eighteen 'ear.

Notes.—Miss Jackson adds the pronunciation, in glossic notation. There is no sound of initial h. Scrike, shriek; sid, seed, i.e. saw; pecked, pitched, fallen headlong; bruck, brook; douked, ducked; 'out, hold; bonk, bank; wham, home; wunna, was not; winder-rags, shreds; djed, dead; toud, told; what'n'ee, what do you; a nour, an hour; sid, seen; lung, long; wun, were.


The following well-known Wiltshire fable is from Wiltshire Tales, by J. Yonge Akerman (1853). I give it as it stands in the Preface to Halliwell's Dictionary; omitting the "Moral."

The Harnet and the Bittle.

A harnet zet in a hollur tree— A proper spiteful twoad was he; And a merrily zung while he did zet His stinge as shearp as a bagganet; Oh, who so vine and bowld as I? I vears not bee, nor wapse, nor vly!

A bittle up thuck tree did clim, And scarnvully did look at him; Zays he, "Zur harnet, who giv thee A right to zet in thuck there tree? Vor ael you zengs so nation vine, I tell 'e 'tis a house o' mine!"

The harnet's conscience velt a twinge, But grawin' bowld wi' his long stinge, Zays he, "Possession's the best laaw; Zo here th' sha'sn't put a claaw! Be off, and leave the tree to me, The mixen's good enough for thee!"

Just then a yuckel, passin' by, Was axed by them the cause to try; "Ha! ha! I zee how 'tis!" zays he, "They'll make a vamous munch vor me!" His bill was shearp, his stomach lear, Zo up a snapped the caddlin' pair!

Notes.—Observe z and v for initial s and f; harnet, hornet; bittle, beetle; zet, sat; proper, very; twoad, toad, wretch; a, he; stinge, sting; bagganet, bayonet.

Thuck, that; clim, climb; giv, gave; zet, sit; ael, all.

Th' sha'sn't, thou shalt not; mixen, dung-heap.

Yuckel, woodpecker; axed, asked; vamous munch, excellent meal; lear, empty; caddlin', quarrelsome.


The following colloquy is quoted in the Glossary of Isle of Wight Words, E.D.S., 1881, at p. 50.

I recollect perfectly the late Mr James Phillips of Merston relating a dialogue that occurred between two of his labourers relative to the word straddle-bob, a beetle.... At the time of luncheon, one of them, on taking his bren-cheese (bread and cheese) out of a little bag, saw something that had found its way there; which led to the following discourse.

Jan. What's got there, you?

Will. A straddlebob craalun about in the nammut-bag.

J. Straddlebob? Where ded'st leyarn to caal 'n by that neyam?

W. Why, what shoud e caal 'n? 'Tes the right neyam, esn ut?

J. Right neyam? No! Why, ye gurt zote vool, casn't zee 'tes a dumbledore?

W. I know 'tes; but vur aal that, straddlebob's zo right a neyam vor 'n as dumbledore ez.

J. Come, I'll be blamed if I doant laay thee a quart o' that.

W. Done! and I'll ax Meyastur to-night when I goos whoam, bee't how't wool.

Accordingly, Meyastur was applied to by Will, who made his decision known to Jan the next morning.

W. I zay, Jan! I axed Meyastur about that are last night.

J. Well, what ded ur zay?

W. Why, a zed one neyam ez jest zo vittun vor'n as tother; and he lowz a ben caal'd straddlebob ever zunce the Island was vust meyad.

J. Well, if that's the keeas, I spooas I lost the quart.

W. That thee hast, lucky; and we'll goo down to Arreton to the Rid Lion and drink un ater we done work.

Notes.—Observe z for s, and v for f initially. What's, What hast thou; nammut (lit. noon-meat), luncheon, usually eaten at 9 A.M. (n{-o}na h{-o}ra); leyarn, learn; esn, is not; gurt, great; zote, soft, silly; casn't, canst not; laay, lay, wager; how't wool, how it will; that are, that there; lowz (lit. allows), opines; zunce, since; vust meyad, first made; keeas, case; lucky, look ye!


The following quotations are from the Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect, by the Rev. W.D. Parish, Vicar of Selmeston; E.D.S. 1875. The Glossary refers rather to E. than to W. Sussex, Selmeston being between Lewes and Eastbourne.

Call over, to abuse. "He come along here a-cadging, and fancy he just did call me over, because I told him as I hadn't got naun to give him." (Naun, nothing.)

Clocksmith, a watchmaker. "I be quite lost about time, I be; for I've been forced to send my watch to the clocksmith. I couldn't make no sense of mending it myself; for I'd iled it and I'd biled it, and then I couldn't do more with it."

Cocker-up, to spoil; to gloss over with an air of truth. "You see this here chap of hers, he's cockered-up some story about having to goo away somewheres up into the sheeres; and I tell her she's no call to be so cluck over it; and for my part I dunno but what I be very glad an't, for he was a chap as was always a-cokeing about the cupboards, and cogging her out of a Sunday." (The sheeres, any shire of England except Kent and Sussex; call, reason; cluck, out of spirits; coke, to peep; cog, to entice.)

Joy, a jay. "Poor old Master Crockham, he's in terrible order, surel{'y}! The meece have taken his peas, and the joys have got at his beans, and the snags have spilt all his lettuce." (Order, bad temper; meece, mice; snags, snails; spilt, spoilt.)

Kiddle, to tickle. "Those thunder-bugs did kiddle me so that I couldn't keep still no hows." (Thunder-bug, a midge.)

Lawyer, a long bramble full of thorns, so called because, "when once they gets a holt an ye, ye do{a}nt easy get shut of 'em."

Leetle, a diminutive of little. "I never see one of these here gurt men there's s'much talk about in the peapers, only once, and that was up at Smiffle Show adunnamany years agoo. Prime minister, they told me he was, up at London; a leetle, lear, miserable, skinny-looking chap as ever I see. 'Why,' I says, 'we do{a}nt count our minister to be much, but he's a deal primer-looking than what yourn be.'" (Gurt, great; Smiffle, Smithfield; adunnamany, I don't know how many; lear, thin, hungry; see, saw.)

Sarment, a sermon. "I likes a good long sarment, I doos; so as when you wakes up it ain't all over."

Tempory (temporary), slight, badly finished. "Who be I? Why, I be John Carbury, that's who I be! And who be you? Why, you ain't a man at all, you ain't! You be naun but a poor tempory creetur run up by contract, that's what you be!"

Tot, a bush; a tuft of grass. "There warn't any grass at all when we fust come here; naun but a passel o' gurt old tots and tussicks. You see there was one of these here new-fashioned men had had the farm, and he'd properly starved the land and the labourers, and the cattle and everything, without it was hisself." (Passel, parcel; tussicks, tufts of rank grass.)

Twort (for thwart), pert and saucy. "She's terrible twort—she wants a good setting down, she do; and she'll get it too. Wait till my master comes in!"

Winterpicks, blackthorn berries.

Winter-proud, cold. "When you sees so many of these here winterpicks about, you may be pretty sure 'twill be middlin' winter-proud."


Ancren Riwle; ed. Jas. Morton. Camden Soc., 1873. (About 1230.)

Anglo-Saxon and Early English Psalter. Surtees Society. London, 1843-7. 2 vols. (See p. 25.)

Beda.—Venerabilis Bedae Historiae Ecclesiasticae Gentis Anglorum Libri III, IV; ed. J.E.B. Mayor, M.A. and J.R. Lumby, B.D. Cambridge, 1878.

—— The Venerable Bede's Ecclesiastical History; also the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (both in English). Ed. J.A. Giles, D.C.L. London, 1859. (In Bohn's Library.)

Dictionaries containing dialect words. (See p. 100.)

Durham Ritual.—Rituale Ecclesi{ae} Dunelmensis. Surtees Society. London, 1840.

Earle, Rev. J.; Anglo-Saxon Literature. London, S.P.C.K., 1884.

E.D.D.—English Dialect Dictionary (to which is appended the English Dialect Grammar); ed. Dr Joseph Wright. Oxford, 1898-1905.

E.D.S.—English Dialect Society, publications of the. London, 1873-96.

E.E.T.S.—Early English Text Society, publications of the. London, 1864-1910. (Contains Alliterative Poems, Ayenbite of Inwyt, Barbour's Bruce, Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight, St Juliana, Kentish Sermons, Lyndesay's Works, etc.)

Jackson, Miss.—Shropshire Wordbook, by Georgina F. Jackson. London, 1879.

Jamieson's Scottish Dictionary. A new edition, ed. J. Longmuir and D. Donaldson. Paisley, 1879-87. 4to. 4 vols. and Supplement.

Layamon's Brut; ed. Sir F. Madden. London, 1847. 3 vols.

Minot's Poems; ed. J. Hall. Oxford, 1887.

Morris, Rev. R., LL.D.; The Blickling Homilies. (E.E.T.S.) London, 1880.

—— Old English Miscellany. (E.E.T.S.) London, 1872.

—— Old English Homilies, Series I and II. (E.E.T.S.) London, 1867 and 1873.

—— Specimens of Early English. Part I. 1150-1300. Second Edition. Oxford, 1885.

Morris, Rev. R. and Skeat, Rev. W.W.; Specimens of Early English. Part II. Third edition. Oxford, 1894.

Murray, Sir James A.H. The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland. (Phil. Soc.) London, 1873.

N.E.D.—The New English Dictionary; by Sir James A.H. Murray, H. Bradley, and W.A. Craigie. Oxford, 1888-.

Ormulum; ed. R.M. White. Oxford, 1852. 2 vols.

Pricke of Conscience, by Richard Rolle de Hampole; ed. R. Morris. (Phil. Soc.) London, 1863.

Psalter, by R. Rolle de Hampole; ed. Rev. H.R. Bramley. Oxford, 1884.

Robert of Gloucester; ed. W. Aldis Wright. (Record Series.) London, 1887. 2 vols.

Skeat, Rev. Walter W.; The Chaucer Canon. Oxford, 1900.

—— Etymological English Dictionary. New edition. Oxford, 1910.

—— The Holy Gospels, in Anglo-Saxon, Northumbrian, and Mercian Versions. Cambridge, 1871-87.

—— Primer of English Etymology. Fifth edition. Oxford, 1910.

—— Principles of English Etymology, Series I. Second edition. Oxford, 1892.

Sweet, H.; An Anglo-Saxon Reader. Seventh edition. Oxford, 1894.

—— A Second Anglo-Saxon Reader, Archaic and Dialectal. Oxford, 1887.

—— The Oldest English Texts. (E.E.T.S.) London, 1885.

Trevisa.—Higden's Polychronicon; with Trevisa's English Version; ed. C. Babington, B.D., and the Rev. J.R. Lumby, D.D. (Record Series.) 9 vols. London, 1865-86.

Wise, J.R.; Shakspere, his Birthplace and its Neighbourhood. London, 1861.


Aberdeen dialect, 112, 113 Adam's body, materials of, 21, 22 Alfred, King, 47, 48 Allen, Grant, Anglo-Saxon Britain, 85 Alliterative Poems, ed. Morris, 80 Altenglische Dichtungen, 52 Ambry, aumbry, 97 Ancren Riwle, 49 Anglian period, 14 Anglo-French words in dialects, 94-96 Anglo-Saxon, 10, 11, 12 Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, 12, 48 Laud MS., 73 Arain, arles, arris, asew, assith, 97 Assoilyie, astre, aunsel, aunter, aver, averous, 97, 98 Atkinson's (Cleveland) Glossary, 44 Awfully, 4 Ayenbite of Inwyt, 59, 60 Ayrshire dialect, 113, 114

Baker, Miss, 5 Barnes, William, 55, 111 Beda, 15 his "death-song," 15 his History, 14, 15, 17, 56 Beowulf, 7-9 Bewcastle column, 20 Bladud, King, 50, 51 Blood-boltered, 5 Bolter, 5, 6 Boucher, Rev. J., Dialect Dictionary, 101, 102 Boy or child, 5 Brockett's Glossary, 44 Bruce, by Barbour, 29-34 Brut, romance of, 49, 50, 51 Burns, Robert, 45, 113

C{ae}dmon, 15, 16 his hymn, 17 Caxton, 40 Celtic words in dialects, 83-86 list of, 85, 86 Charters, Kentish, 56, 57 Mercian, 70 Chaucer, use of Kentish by, 63 use of yon, 7 use of asp, 68 Cheshire dialect, 122, 123 Child (girl), 5, 6 Cole, King, 51 Corpus Glossary, 67 Cursor Mundi, 27, 28, 35 Cymbeline, 50

Dialect defined, 1 Dialect glossaries, 102-103 Dialect writers, 111 Dialects, foreign elements in the, 82-98 four old, 10,11 groups of, 107 modern, 106-109 specimens of, 110, etc. Dialectic regeneration, 3 Dictionaries by Coles, Kersey, Bailey, Dr Johnson, and Ash, 101 old, Promptorium and Catholicon, 100 Douglas, Gawain, 34 Dunbar, 33, 35 quoted, 45 Dunstan, St, Life of, 51 Durham, Liber Vit{ae}, 20 Ritual, 21

Eagre, 97 Earle, Prof., 14 Edinburgh dialect, 115, 116 Eliot see George Ellis, A.J., Early English Pronunciation, 103 Erne, 6 English, the old name for Lowland Scotch, 33-35 English Dialect Dictionary, 85, 90, 104 English Dialect Grammar, 104 English Dialect Society, 103 English Metrical Homilies, 28 Essex dialect, 123, 124, 125

Fitzherbert, J., Boke of Husbandry, 99 Flittermouse, 4, 5 Flower and the Leaf, 38 French words in dialects, 93 list of, 96-98

Galt, John, 45 Gauntree, 95 Gawayne and the Grene Knight, 81 George Eliot, use of dialect by, 111 Gloss, meaning of, 23 Glossaries of dialectal words, 102, 103 Old English, 66, 67 Golden Targe, by Dunbar, 45 Gower, use of Kentish by, 62, 63 Greek words in dialects, 87 Grose, F., Provincial Glossary, 101

Hampole, R. Rolle of, 28, 32, 35 Handlyng Synne, quoted, 78, 79 Harleian MS. 2253, 52 Hebrew words in dialects, 88 Henry III., Proclamation of, 75-78 Henry the Minstrel, 33, 35 Higden, Ralph, 53 Hild, Abbess, 16 Hoccleve, 38 Hogg, James, 45 Homilies in Verse, 28 Horn, romance of, 50 Horstmann, Dr, 51 Hrinde (A.S.), 8, 9

Inglis, or Inglisch, 33-35 Isle of Wight dialect, 129, 130

Jamieson's Dictionary, 43, 44 Jonson, Ben, 5 Juliana, St, 49 Jutes, 56

Keats, 4 Kentish, 10, 11, 12 dialect, 56-64 glosses, 57 sermons, 58 Kentish e (A.S. y), 61-64 King Lear, 50

Lancashire dialect, 119, 120 Latin words in dialects, 87 Layamon's Brut, 49 Leyden Riddle, 18 Liber Vit{ae}, 20 Lincolnshire dialect, 118, 119 words, 100, 101 Locrine, 50 London dialect, 74-78 Lorica Prayer, 68, 69 Lydgate, 38 Lyndesay, Sir David, 34, 35

Madam, 'm, 3 Malory, Sir Thomas, 40 Manning, Robert, 78, 79 Mercian dialect, 10, 11, 36, 37, 65-81 glosses, 70-72 spellings, 71-72 Michel, Dan, 59, 60 Midland dialect, 65-81 rise of, 37, 42 Psalter, 80 East, 65-79 West, 79-81 Minot's Poems, 29 Moral Ode, 49 Morris, Dr, Blickling Homilies, 8 Old English Miscellany, 49, 58 Old English Homilies, 49 Specimens of Early English, 58 Morris, Dr, on dialects, 81 Morris and Skeat, Specimens, etc., 27-29, 59, 60 Murray, Dr, on the Dialect of Scotland, 28, 32-5 Mueller, Prof. Max, Lectures, 3

New English Dictionary, 85 Norfolk dialect, 125-127 Northern dialect, great extent of, 32-35 Northumbrian, 10, 11, 12, 14-46 glosses, 22-24 riddle, 18 Nut-brown Maid, 38

Old English Homilies, 49 Ormulum, The, 73, 74 Owl and Nightingale, 49

Peacock's (Lincolnshire) Glossary, 44 Pearl, The, 80 Phonetic decay, 3 Plays, early, 41 Plurals, Southern, 61 Prick of Conscience, 28 Proverbs of Alfred, 49 Psalter, by Hampole, 32 Prose Treatises, by the same, 32 Psalter, Northumbrian, 25-27 West Midland, 80

Ramsay, Allan, 45 Ray, John, collection of dialectal words, 101 Rimy, 8, 9 rind, 9 Robert of Gloucester, 50 Rolle, of Hampole, 28, 32, 35 Romances, dialect of, 44 list of, 38-40 Ross, Alexander, 45 Rushworth MS., 22, 23, 70-72 Ruthwell Cross, 18, 19, 20

Scandinavian words in dialects, 88-93 list of, 90-93 Scots, Middle, 44, 45 Scott, Sir Walter, 6, 45 Scottish and English, 43, 44 Scottish Laws, early, 32 Shakespeare, 5, 6, 50 use of dialect, 100 Sheffield dialect, 121, 122 Shoreham, Wm. of, 58 quoted, 59 Shropshire dialect, 127-128 Skeat, Chaucer Canon, 73 Etymological Dictionary, 84-85 Gospels in Anglo-Saxon, 71 Index to Icelandic Dictionary, 89 Primer of English Etymology, 84 Principles of English Etymology, 70, 87, 89 Skinner, S., Etymologicon, 100 Smith, G. Gregory, Specimens of Middle Scots, 44, 45 South English Legendary, 51 Southern dialect, 47-55 Southey, R., his use of dialect, 111 Specimens of Early English Part I., 49, 50 Part II., 51, 79. See Morris Spenser's Shepherd's Calendar, 99 Stephens, Prof., 18 Sussex dialect, 130-132 Sweet, Dr, 15 Anglo-Saxon Primer, 48 Anglo-Saxon Reader, 18 Anglo-Saxon Reader, Dialectal, 56-57 Oldest English Texts, 10, 15, 19, 66 Gregory's Pastoral Care, 7

Tannahill, Robert, 45 Tennyson, 4, 111 Testament of Love, 53, 54 Trevisa, John, 53, 55 Tusser, T., Pointes of Husbandrie, 99 Twenty, 3

Usk, Thomas, 53, 54

Vernon MS., 52 Vespasian Psalter, 69, 70

Wessex see Anglo-Saxon Westmoreland dialect, 117, 118 William of Palerne, 80 Wiltshire dialect, 128-129 Wise, J.R., 5 Wright, Dr J., English Dialect Dictionary, 9, 85, 90, 104 Wright, T., Political Songs, 29 Wyntoun, 29, 33

Yon, 6, 7

* * * * * * * * * * * * * *

{Transcriber's Correction:

Chapter III: courageous before all men; I (the cross) durst not bow down text reads ... bow dow }


Previous Part     1  2  3
Home - Random Browse