Billeder på siden

to make for itself new flexion. “I send thee thisan;" and in fact thisan is one of the commonest words in use. The ending is not confined to the accusative; we find “What'n mannishment's this?” in which whaťn is eq. “what kind.” The Cockney dialect had something similar in his'n, but I think only when used substantively, whilst Cumbrian has it both in substantive and adjective use. In all probability it is an agglutination of the Danish article en, which is always postfixed. This'n, whať n, would thus be eq. the this, the what*. There is a remarkable vocative case found in one word, min from man, which is used equally to boys, horses, or anything, addressed authoritatively.

Another singular piece of flexion remains in the comparative nearther, apparently formed on the model of E. farther. The latter, however, is not derived from far, but from the positive forth, and near is already a comparative (cf. nigh.) The C. nearther is pronounced very nearly as if it were nigherther. The indefinite article and the numeral one are furnished with a connecting link in Cumbrian usage : two boys say to each other, “Aw've just ya hawpenny left,” “ And aw've just yan." This is a mid-sense, and shows the difference between the adjective and substantive forms.

The pronouns of address have their peculiarities in Cumbrian as in almost all dialects. Ye, which has supplanted the other cases, is now the pronoun of respect, and thou betokens familiarity or contempt. The latter is the pronoun always used between friends, and singularly enough is that which is heard in “fratching.” The use of thou in Lancashire, if applied improperly, is highly resented, but there is no such strong feeling on the matter in this district. The third person he and she, is likewise used in address, but, as far as I am aware, only to children: “What is he doin, hinny?” With this we may compare the Italian usage: thou between persons on a perfect footing of equality, you where a certain amount of distance has to be maintained, and she (or rather her) as the highest mark of respect.

[ocr errors]

• The Lat. Caiu-s es-t stultu-s-s and t being the fundamental characteristios of the Sans. pronouns sa and ta-is eq. Caiu-that be-he stupid-that.

[blocks in formation]


The "grammatical inaccuracies" of the dialect appear to shock strangers and persons unaccustomed to reflect on such matters. The verbs, and especially the verb “to be," as may be supposed, are the greatest stumbling-block. Considerable diversity, however, exists in connexion with verbal flexion, every person doubtless correcting the general usage according to his knowledge of English. As it is difficult therefore at present to say precisely what the flexion of the verbs is, the following examples are given chiefly from the Borrowdale Letter : verb to be " Sea nags is as rank in Dublin beck, as if thou was lyukin at ten thousand geese in a gutter,”

" I' se as thin as lantern leets,” “I whop I'se git strang agyan or it be lang," I'se plague ye sair wi it;" plural—" They hes hed,” “They swallow land nags as hens dus big,” Parlemen-hoos, whore gentlemen gangs to bate yan anudder," “When they'r starvt amyast, and gits lile milk;" first personI maks mysel easy," "I cares lile ;” second person—“ Thou knows,” “If thou so me now.”

From these examples it appears that the third person singular has been taken as the essential part of the verb, and suffered to supplant the other persons of the singular, and the third person plural. The English verb principally differs from the Cumbrian in having preserved the flexion of the second person singular, but it must be observed that in later times it has suffered this person to become altogether obsolete. appears above instead I shall, an auxiliary of late introduction into English. I' se becomes I is when emphatic.

There are several other peculiarities in the verbs deserving of remark. Du and duv (do) interchange, and there appears to be some confusion in the usage : “ And sea duv I,” “ Nay, I duvn't.” Possibly the usage varies in different localities, but that such was the origin of the distinction I am unable to say, Du I should suppose properly used before consonants, duv before vowels. For we also find “Stick tuv it,” “tuv an at yon Dublin.” The past of du is dud. The verbs mun and mud are somewhat curious: aw mun du, aw mud a duin, the former expressing the strong obligatory sense of E. must, the latter a mid-sense between E. might and must. An attempt appears to have been made to remove the

I se


anomalies of the English formation of verbs, by carrying them back to the old strong system in E. begin, began, G. binde, band. Thus we find hit, hat “he hat him"-git, gat (get, got), and some others; but besides this a modernising of old participles, as in “ Is he com?

The idiomatic syntax and phraseology are especially rich for the philologist, but nothing more can be attempted here than an enumeration of the principal points. There is a strange combination in use with the verb can, exemplified in the following: "He won't can lend you," "I wadn't could see.” Anderson has this remarkable idiom: “She yence cud ha' crammeled, and writ her awn neame," meaning she once could have written her own name crammelingly (scrawlingly). “Whea's aw this?" is a phrase most difficult to understand, but probably contains an inversion to which the English language is not familiar. It is not unusual to hear in some dialects, “Whae belangs this ?” that is, instead of saying, “ To whom does the hat belong ?” they use the inversion, “Who belongs to the hat?" And this is the interpretation, as I understand it, of the above: “Whea's aw (owe to) this ?" signifying, “Who belongs to this?" with aw used in the Old English sense. may sit his lone (alone)" is a Celtic idiom, but perhaps not exclusively so. The indefinite use of the word kind, that is, to reduce the sense, is very nearly the same as in America : “Aw kind o' com to mysel agean,” partly came to myself. The word bit is used to form diminutives : “ a bit lad," a bit thing." “ A few broth" is an idiom not confined to this district, its peculiarity lying in the word fer, not in any idea of divisibility in the broth, as might seem at first sight; for we also find “a good few,” that is, a good many. “What's the matter?" is a singular periphrasis for why: “What's the matter thou hes nea hat on?"

Such names as Kirkoswald, Kirkby Stephen, the church of Oswald, the church town of Stephen, involve in their composition a remarkable point of grammar (government), in accordance with Celtic, and opposed diametrically to Gothic. All Hiberno-Celtic compounds are formed according to this law, that the first word governs the second in the genitive. Londonderry (the London of

6. He

[blocks in formation]

Derry county) has been formed like the above, and the accentuation on the second part of the compounds, shows that the inventors understood clearly what they were about. We may compare with these the old Cornish Lanstuphadon. Eamont could not mean, as has been supposed, the water of the mountain, for the reason just given; and in Mounsey we find the form in which a name of this signification would appear.

Some peculiar ellipses occur : “He's gettin into my pocket,” that is, getting his hand into it. “And I efter it”—an ellipsis of the verb to go, which next to the verb to be seems most easily dispensed with in language. We may compare the provincial phrase, “ Away with him, and I after him"-away he went with himself (carried himself), and I went after him. “Twea three mair,” two or three more, has an ellipsis of the conjunction, and is identical with the Lancashire “ tuthri moor.”

The following phrases do not need much explanation or comment: “ The folks will a' be which to be thrangest.” co tother,” the earlier up shall call the other, contains the D. tidt, early, in the comparative degree.“ Titter it's dune an better," the the sooner it's done the better. “ He put tay fout intot tayn, an tudder intot tudder.” “A rank pay (D. rank, upright)"" "It caps Langcroon!" an imaginary person with a crown (head) so long that he was equal to all reasonable difficulties. " What sic creeturs they are," what kind of creatures, contains a remarkable use of such. “ Thou couldn't tell me be a frosk,” from a frog, in which be is eq. E. beside. Through amang fwok, and owr fwok.” sit ith hoos," to stay at home. “ Gaw bun !" one of the most frequently used exclamatory phrases-the D. gaa, bonde, go, clown, and so indefinitely applied that we even find, “Gaw bun light on

“What the hangman!"—the German Was zum henker ! “Wiah than!" “sea than !” are exclamations very common in ordinary conversation, but " and seya (and so)” must be heard in a “fratch," if it is to be heard to perfection.

6 Titter up

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]




It has already been observed, that in the dialect of the different parts of these counties great diversity exists. Considering the varying elements of the population, we are not to be surprised at such discrepancies; for it is decidedly in the original colonisations that the foundation of the dialect is laid, however it may be subsequently modified by circumstances. Many words and idioms used in some localities of Cumbria are unknown in others, but in the pronunciations of the same words, the distinctions are most obvious.

The north of Cumberland has in use the word lile (little); in the neighbourhood of Penrith this is pronounced laal; the dales shorten the latter somewhat, as if it were lal; the Borrowdale Letter (Eamont Bridge) has got lile, which we also find in the south of Westmorland; in Lancaster it is loil, but in the south of Lancashire it disappears, and is replaced by little. Again, the word sic (such) of Cumberland, and the south of Westmorland, is sitch in many parts of the latter, as well as in Lancashire.*

• The dialect of Penrith and the immediate neighbourhood affords a good average specinien of what is spoken in the two counties, and contains a certain degree of refinement, without sacrificing much of the provincial character. This is no more than might have been expected from its central position. The dialects of the “ fellsides" (Pendine), and Keswick, do not differ materially from that of Penrith.

« ForrigeFortsæt »