When I wrote the other day about Black Country dialect, I knew that there would be some who would wax sentimental about it. Here’s a quote from just such a person, writing in a blog in the Guardian online:
“I'm also moved to tears as I write these words, recalling words that filled my childhood that I'll never speak again. I've been deracinated, standardised, made – linguistically at least – just that little bit less charming.”
If you want to read the rest of what he has to say here’s a link to the article.
However, when he started to talk about playing truant from school as “waggin’”, implying that this was a bit of Black Country dialect, I had to take issue with him. They use that term around here as well.
It got me thinking about when I started to work at a central Oldham school in the early seventies and the fact that I couldn’t understand half of what the children said to me at times. It wasn’t just their Oldham accent either. They would tell me about their “oddie” or pocket money. Apparently when the man of the house received his pay, tradition had it that he set some aside for the rent and other regular bills, gave his wife a sum for housekeeping, made sure he had his beer money, some of the “odd money” he had left over would be given to the children to buy sweets: “oddie”. Some of them tended to use “us” instead of “we”: “Why can’t us do that?” Quite fascinating! Is this an alternative grammar system?
When they raised the school leaving age from 15 to 16 in the mid seventies and youngsters who would previously have left school at Easter in their fourth year at secondary (now called Year 10) had to stay there and be occupied for another year. Back in the dark ages these students were not expected to sit any examinations. If they went on to do something like City and Guild qualifications they would usually do those after they left school. And yet they needed to be occupied in school and every subject area had to contribute something. The Modern Languages team came up with a “Why do we speak different Languages?” mini-course, including asking the students to help us compile a glossary of local terminology. I wonder what became of the quite interesting document we produced.
All of this prompted me to investigate “Lanky Twang”, the “dialect” spoken in what used to be Lancashire, until they changed the boundaries back in 1974. Here’s a link to an article written in Lanky Twang just to give a taste of what it was like. I say “was” because much of it has disappeared, even if the accent still remains. I remember being on the maternity ward after the birth of our son and hearing a very young mother complaining, “Me baby’s skrikin’ and I don’t know what to do”. The baby was crying. It seems that the word comes old Norse: “skika” means scream. I’ve not heard anyone use that expression recently.
Lancashire poet and playwright Henry Livings used to live up the road from us. He translated García Lorca’s “Bodas de Sangre” – Blood Wedding – relocating the tragedy to rural Lancashire. Mind you, when I say he lived up the road from us, that was not strictly speaking Lancashire originally. Before they moved the regional boundaries, this part of the country was part of Yorkshire, with a different “dialect” all its own.
So there it is: Lanky Twang has its links to literature. And here’s a link to whole lot of poems written in Lancashire dialect.
That’s enough of that.
The local parking problems continue unabated. Here is a picture of what I have to put up with. The cars in the foreground are ALL obstructing the pavement!
On the positive side, despite the marked drop in temperature – down to -1° at around 6 o’ clock this evening – today has been a splendidly bright day. The photos below are from around 9:15 this morning on the local bridle path.
Winter is definitely coming!