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Title: English Dialects From the Eighth Century to the Present Day
Author: Skeat, Walter William, 1835-1912
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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               London: Fetter Lane, E.C.
                 C. F. CLAY, Manager

             {Illustration: Coat of Arms}

            Edinburgh: 100, Princes Street
                Berlin: A. Asher and Co.
                Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus
             New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons
      Bombay and Calcutta: Macmillan and Co., Ltd

                 _All rights reserved_

           *       *       *       *       *

         {Illustration: Decorative Title Page
                encompassing all text
        from "English Dialects" through "1912"}

                   ENGLISH DIALECTS

               From the Eighth Century
                 to the Present Day

                        by the

                REV. WALTER W. SKEAT,
            Litt.D., D.C.L., LL.D., Ph.D.,
            F.B.A.  Elrington and Bosworth
           Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fel-
           low of Christ's College. Founder
             and formerly Director of the
                English Dialect Society

             "English in the native garb;"
                    _K. Henry V._ V. 1. 80

               at the University Press

           *       *       *       *       *

         With the exception of the coat of arms
        at the foot, the design on the title page
      is a reproduction of one used by the earliest
       known Cambridge printer, John Siberch, 1521

                _First Edition_ 1911.
                  _Reprinted_ 1912.

           *       *       *       *       *


The following brief sketch is an attempt to present, in a popular
form, the history of our English dialects, from the eighth century
to the present day. The evidence, which is necessarily somewhat
imperfect, goes to show that the older dialects appear to have been
few in number, each being tolerably uniform over a wide area; and
that the rather numerous dialects of the present day were gradually
developed by the breaking up of the older groups into subdialects.
This is especially true of the old Northumbrian dialect, in which the
speech of Aberdeen was hardly distinguishable from that of Yorkshire,
down to the end of the fourteenth century; soon after which date, the
use of it for literary purposes survived in Scotland only. The
chief literary dialect, in the earliest period, was Northumbrian or
"Anglian," down to the middle of the ninth century. After that time
our literature was mostly in the Southern or Wessex dialect, commonly
called "Anglo-Saxon," the dominion of which lasted down to the early
years of the thirteenth century, when the East Midland dialect
surely but gradually rose to pre-eminence, and has now become the
speech of the empire. Towards this result the two great universities
contributed not a little. I proceed to discuss the foreign elements
found in our dialects, the chief being Scandinavian and French. The
influence of the former has long been acknowledged; a due recognition
of the importance of the latter has yet to come. In conclusion, I give
some selected specimens of the use of the modern dialects.

I beg leave to thank my friend Mr P. Giles, M.A., Hon. LL.D. of
Aberdeen, and University Reader in Comparative Philology, for a few
hints and for kindly advice.

  W. W. S.


      3 March 1911



I. DIALECTS AND THEIR VALUE. The meaning of _dialect_. Phonetic decay and
      dialectic regeneration. The words _twenty_, _madam_, _alms_. Keats;
      use of _awfully_. Tennyson and Ben Jonson; use of _flittermouse_.
      Shakespeare; use of _bolter_ and _child_. Sir W. Scott; use of
      _eme_. The English _yon_. _Hrinde_ in Beowulf.

II. DIALECTS IN EARLY TIMES. The four old dialects. Meaning of
      "Anglo-Saxon." Documents in the Wessex dialect.

      Beda's History and "Death-song." The poet Cædmon. Cædmon's hymn.
      The Leyden Riddle. The Ruth well Cross. Liber Vitæ. The Durham
      Ritual. The Lindisfarne and Rushworth MSS. Meaning of a "gloss."

IV. THE DIALECTS OF NORTHUMBRIA; A.D. 1300-1400. The Metrical Psalter;
      with an extract. Cursor Mundi. Homilies in Verse. Prick of
      Conscience. Minot's Poems. Barbour's Bruce; with an extract. Great
      extent of the Old Northern dialect; from Aberdeen to the Humber.
      Lowland Scotch identical with the Yorkshire dialect of Hampole.
      Lowland Scotch called "Inglis" by Barbour, Henry the Minstrel,
      Dunbar, and Lyndesay; first called "Scottis" by G. Douglas.
      Dr Murray's account of the Dialect of the Southern Counties of

      of England in different circumstances. Literature of the fifteenth
      century; poems, romances, plays, and ballads. List of Romances.
      Caxton. Rise of the Midland dialect. "Scottish" and "English."
      Jamieson's Dictionary. "Middle Scots." Quotation from Dunbar.

VI. THE SOUTHERN DIALECT. Alfred the Great. The Anglo-Saxon Chronicle.
      Old English Homilies. The Brut. St Juliana. The Ancren Riwle. The
      Proverbs of Alfred. The Owl and the Nightingale. A Moral Ode.
      Robert of Gloucester. Early history of Britain. The South-English
      Legendary. The Harleian MS. 2253. The Vernon MS. John Trevisa.
      The Testament of Love.

VII. THE SOUTHERN DIALECT OF KENT. Quotation from Beda. Extract from an
      Old Kentish Charter. Kentish Glosses. Kentish Sermons. William of
      Shoreham; with an extract. The Ayenbite of Inwyt. The Apostles'
      Creed in Old Kentish. The use of _e_ for A.S. _y_ in Kentish. Use
      of Kentish by Gower and Chaucer. Kentish forms in modern English.

VIII. THE MERCIAN DIALECT. East Midland. Old Mercian Glossaries of the
      eighth century. The Lorica Prayer. The Vespasian Psalter. The
      Rushworth MS. Old Mercian and Wessex compared. Laud MS. of the
      Anglo-Saxon Chronicle. The Ormulum. The English Proclamation of
      Henry III. (_see the facsimile_). Robert Mannyng of Brunne (Bourn).
      West Midland. The Prose Psalter. William of Palerne. The Pearl and
      Alliterative Poems. Sir Gawayne and the Grene Knight.

      Spanish, Dutch, etc. Celtic. List of Celtic words. Examples of
      Latin words. Greek words. Hebrew words. List of Scandinavian
      words. French words. Anglo-French words; _gauntree_. Literary
      French words, as used in dialects.

X. LATER HISTORY OF THE DIALECTS. Spenser. John Fitzherbert. Thomas
      Tusser. Skinner's Etymologicon (Lincolnshire words). John Ray.
      Dialect glossaries. Dr Ellis on Early English Pronunciation. The
      English Dialect Society. The English Dialect Dictionary. The
      English Dialect Grammar.

XI. THE MODERN DIALECTS. Prof. Wright's account of the modern English

XII. A FEW SPECIMENS. Some writers in dialect. Specimens: Scottish
      (Aberdeen, Ayrshire, Edinburgh). Northern England (Westmorland).
      Midland (Lincoln, S.E. Lancashire, Sheffield, Cheshire). Eastern
      (N. Essex, Norfolk). Western (S.W. Shropshire). Southern
      (Wiltshire, Isle of Wight, Sussex).



FACSIMILE. The only English Proclamation of Henry III. Oct. 18, 1258

*** _For a transcription of the Facsimile see_ pp. 75-6.

{Transcriber's Note:
The Facsimile is not included in this e-text.}



According to the New English Dictionary, the oldest sense, in
English, of the word _dialect_ was simply "a manner of speaking"
or "phraseology," in accordance with its derivation from the Greek
_dialectos_, a discourse or way of speaking; from the verb
_dialegesthai_, to discourse or converse.

The modern meaning is somewhat more precise. In relation to a language
such as English, it is used in a special sense to signify "a local
variety of speech differing from the standard or literary language."
When we talk of "speakers of dialect," we imply that they employ a
provincial method of speech to which the man who has been educated to
use the language of books is unaccustomed. Such a man finds that the
dialect-speaker frequently uses words or modes of expression which he
does not understand or which are at any rate strange to him; and he is
sure to notice that such words as seem to be familiar to him are, for
the most part, strangely pronounced. Such differences are especially
noticeable in the use of vowels and diphthongs, and in the mode
of intonation.

The speaker of the "standard" language is frequently tempted to
consider himself as the dialect-speaker's superior, unless he has
already acquired some elementary knowledge of the value of the science
of language or has sufficient common sense to be desirous of learning
to understand that which for the moment lies beyond him. I remember
once hearing the remark made--"What is the good of dialects? Why not
sweep them all away, and have done with them?" But the very form of
the question betrays ignorance of the facts; for it is no more
possible to do away with them than it is possible to suppress the
waves of the sea. English, like every other literary language, has
always had its dialects and will long continue to possess them in
secluded districts, though they are at the present time losing much of
that archaic character which gives them their chief value. The spread
of education may profoundly modify them, but the spoken language of
the people will ever continue to devise new variations and to initiate
developments of its own. Even the "standard" language is continually
losing old words and admitting new ones, as was noted long ago by
Horace; and our so-called "standard" pronunciation is ever
imperceptibly but surely changing, and never continues in one stay.

In the very valuable _Lectures on the Science of Language_ by
Professor F. Max Müller, the second Lecture, which deserves careful
study, is chiefly occupied by some account of the processes which he
names respectively "phonetic decay" and "dialectic regeneration";
processes to which all languages have always been and ever will be

By "phonetic decay" is meant that insidious and gradual alteration in
the sounds of spoken words which, though it cannot be prevented, at
last so corrupts a word that it becomes almost or wholly unmeaning.
Such a word as _twenty_ does not suggest its origin. Many might
perhaps guess, from their observation of such numbers as _thirty,
forty_, etc., that the suffix _-ty_ may have something to do with
_ten_, of the original of which it is in fact an extremely reduced
form; but it is less obvious that _twen-_ is a shortened form of
_twain_. And perhaps none but scholars of Teutonic languages are aware
that _twain_ was once of the masculine gender only, while _two_ was so
restricted that it could only be applied to things that were feminine
or neuter. As a somewhat hackneyed example of phonetic decay, we may
take the case of the Latin _mea domina_, i.e. my mistress, which
became in French _ma dame_, and in English _madam_; and the last of
these has been further shortened to _mam_, and even to _'m_, as in the
phrase "Yes, 'm." This shows how nine letters may be reduced to one.
Similarly, our monosyllable _alms_ is all that is left of the Greek
_ele{-e}mosyn{-e}_. Ten letters have here been reduced to four.

This irresistible tendency to indistinctness and loss is not,
however, wholly bad; for it has at the same time largely contributed,
especially in English, to such a simplification of grammatical
inflexions as certainly has the practical convenience of giving us
less to learn. But in addition to this decay in the forms of words, we
have also to reckon with a depreciation or weakening of the ideas they
express. Many words become so hackneyed as to be no longer impressive.
As late as in 1820, Keats could say, in stanza 6 of his poem of
_Isabella_, that "His heart beat awfully against his side"; but at
the present day the word _awfully_ is suggestive of schoolboys' slang.
It is here that we may well have the benefit of the principle of
"dialectic regeneration." We shall often do well to borrow from our
dialects many terms that are still fresh and racy, and instinct with a
full significance. Tennyson was well aware of this, and not only wrote
several poems wholly in the Lincolnshire dialect, but introduced
dialect words elsewhere. Thus in _The Voyage of Maeldune_, he has
the striking line: "Our voices were thinner and fainter than any
flittermouse-shriek." In at least sixteen dialects a _flittermouse_
means "a bat."

I have mentioned Tennyson in this connexion because he was a careful
student of English, not only in its dialectal but also in its older
forms. But, as a matter of fact, nearly all our chief writers have
recognised the value of dialectal words. Tennyson was not the first
to use the above word. Near the end of the Second Act of his _Sad
Shepherd_, Ben Jonson speaks of:

  Green-bellied snakes, blue fire-drakes in the sky,
  And giddy flitter-mice with leather wings.

Similarly, there are plenty of "provincialisms" in Shakespeare. In
an interesting book entitled _Shakespeare, his Birthplace and its
Neighbourhood_, by J.R. Wise, there is a chapter on "The
Provincialisms of Shakespeare," from which I beg leave to give a
short extract by way of specimen.

  "There is the expressive compound 'blood-boltered' in _Macbeth_
  (Act IV, Sc. 1), which the critics have all thought meant simply
  blood-stained. Miss Baker, in her _Glossary of Northamptonshire
  Words_, first pointed out that 'bolter' was peculiarly a
  Warwickshire word, signifying to clot, collect, or cake, as snow
  does in a horse's hoof, thus giving the phrase a far greater
  intensity of meaning. And Steevens, too, first noticed that in the
  expression in _The Winter's Tale_ (Act III, Sc. 3), 'Is it a boy or
  a child?'--where, by the way, every actor tries to make a point,
  and the audience invariably laughs--the word 'child' is used, as is
  sometimes the case in the midland districts, as synonymous with
  girl; which is plainly its meaning in this passage, although the
  speaker has used it just before in its more common sense of either
  a boy or a girl."

In fact, the _English Dialect Dictionary_ cites the phrase "is it a
lad or a child?" as being still current in Shropshire; and duly states
that, in Warwickshire, "dirt collected on the hairs of a horse's leg
and forming into hard masses is said to _bolter_." Trench further
points out that many of our pure Anglo-Saxon words which lived on into
the formation of our early English, subsequently dropped out of our
usual vocabulary, and are now to be found only in the dialects. A good
example is the word _eme_, an uncle (A.S. _{-e}am_), which is rather
common in Middle English, but has seldom appeared in our literature
since the tune of Drayton. Yet it is well known in our Northern
dialects, and Sir Walter Scott puts the expression "Didna his _eme_
die" in the mouth of Davie Deans (_Heart of Midlothian_, ch. XII). In
fact, few things are more extraordinary in the history of our language
than the singularly capricious manner in which good and useful words
emerge into or disappear from use in "standard" talk, for no very
obvious reason. Such a word as _yonder_ is common enough still; but
its corresponding adjective _yon_, as in the phrase "yon man," is
usually relegated to our dialects. Though it is common in Shakespeare,
it is comparatively rare in the Middle English period, from the
twelfth to the fifteenth century. It only occurs once in Chaucer,
where it is introduced as being a Northern word; and it absolutely
disappears from record in the tenth, eleventh, and twelfth centuries.
Bosworth's _Anglo-Saxon Dictionary_ gives no example of its use, and
it was long supposed that it would be impossible to trace it in our
early records. Nevertheless, when Dr Sweet printed, for the first
time, an edition of King Alfred's translation of Pope Gregory's
_Pastoral Care_, an example appeared in which it was employed in the
most natural manner, as if it were in everyday use. At p. 443 of that
treatise is the sentence--"Aris and gong to geonre byrg," i.e. Arise
and go to yon city. Here the A.S. _geon_ (pronounced like the modern
_yon_) is actually declined after the regular manner, being duly
provided with the suffix _-re_, which was the special suffix reserved
only for the genitive or dative feminine. It is here a dative after
the preposition _to_.

There is, in fact, no limit to the good use to which a reverent study
of our dialects may be put by a diligent student. They abound with
pearls which are worthy of a better fate than to be trampled under
foot. I will content myself with giving one last example that is
really too curious to be passed over in silence.

It so happens that in the Anglo-Saxon epic poem of _Beowulf_, one
of the most remarkable and precious of our early poems, there is a
splendid and graphic description of a lonely mere, such as would have
delighted the heart of Edgar Allan Poe, the author of _Ulalume_. In
Professor Earle's prose translation of this passage, given in his
_Deeds of Beowulf_, at p. 44, is a description of two mysterious
monsters, of whom it is said that "they inhabit unvisited land,
wolf-crags, windy bluffs, the dread fen-track, where the mountain
waterfall amid precipitous gloom vanisheth beneath--flood under
earth. Not far hence it is, reckoning by miles, that the Mere
standeth, and over it hang rimy groves; a wood with clenched roots
overshrouds the water." The word to be noted here is the word _rimy_,
i.e. covered with rime or hoar-frost. The original Anglo-Saxon text
has the form _hrinde_, the meaning of which was long doubtful. Grein,
the great German scholar, writing in 1864, acknowledged that he did
not know what was intended, and it was not till 1880 that light was
first thrown upon the passage. In that year Dr Morris edited, for
the first time, some Anglo-Saxon homilies (commonly known as the
_Blickling Homilies_, because the MS. is in the library of Blickling
Hall, Norfolk); and he called attention to a passage (at p. 209) where
the homilist was obviously referring to the lonely mere of the
old poem, in which its overhanging groves were described as being
_hrimige_, which is nothing but the true old spelling of _rimy_. He
naturally concluded that the word _hrinde_ (in the MS. of Beowulf) was
miswritten, and that the scribe had inadvertently put down _hrinde_
instead of _hrimge_, which is a legitimate contraction of _hrimige_.
Many scholars accepted this solution; but a further light was yet to
come, viz. in 1904. In that year, Dr Joseph Wright printed the fifth
volume of the _English Dialect Dictionary_, showing that in the
dialects of Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, and Yorkshire, the word
for "hoarfrost" is not _rime_, but _rind_, with a derived adjective
_rindy_, which has the same sense as _rimy_. At the same time, he
called attention yet once more to the passage in _Beowulf_. It is
established, accordingly, that the suspected mistake in the MS. is no
mistake at all; that the form _hrinde_ is correct, being a contraction
of _hrindge_ or _hrindige_, plural of the adjective _hrindig_, which
is preserved in our dialects, in the form _rindy_, to this very day.
In direct contradiction of a common popular error that regards our
dialectal forms as being, for the most part, "corrupt," it will be
found by experience that they are remarkably conservative and antique.



The history of our dialects in the earliest periods of which we have
any record is necessarily somewhat obscure, owing to the scarcity of
the documents that have come down to us. The earliest of these have
been carefully collected and printed in one volume by Dr Sweet,
entitled _The Oldest English Texts_, edited for the Early English
Text Society in 1885. Here we already find the existence of no
less than four dialects, which have been called by the names of
Northumbrian, Mercian, Wessex (or Anglo-Saxon), and Kentish. These
correspond, respectively, though not quite exactly, to what we may
roughly call Northern, Midland, Southern, and Kentish. Whether the
limits of these dialects were always the same from the earliest times,
we cannot tell; probably not, when the unsettled state of the country
is considered, in the days when repeated invasions of the Danes and
Norsemen necessitated constant efforts to repel them. It is therefore
sufficient to define the areas covered by these dialects in quite a
rough way. We may regard the Northumbrian or Northern as the dialect
or group of dialects spoken to the north of the river Humber, as the
name implies; the Wessex or Southern, as the dialect or group of
dialects spoken to the south of the river Thames; the Kentish as
being peculiar to Kent; and the Mercian as in use in the Midland
districts, chiefly to the south of the Humber and to the north of
the Thames. The modern limits are somewhat different, but the above
division of the three chief dialects (excluding Kentish) into
Northern, Midland, and Southern is sufficient for taking a broad
general view of the language in the days before the Norman Conquest.

The investigation of the differences of dialect in our early documents
only dates from 1885, owing to the previous impossibility of obtaining
access to these oldest texts. Before that date, it so happened that
nearly all the manuscripts that had been printed or examined were in
one and the same dialect, viz. the Southern (or Wessex). The language
employed in these was (somewhat unhappily) named "Anglo-Saxon"; and
the very natural mistake was made of supposing that this "Anglo-Saxon"
was the sole language (or dialect) which served for all the "Angles"
and "Saxons" to be found in the "land of the Angles" or England. This
is the reason why it is desirable to give the more general name of
"Old English" to the oldest forms of our language, because this term
can be employed collectively, so as to include Northumbrian, Mercian,
"Anglo-Saxon" and Kentish under one designation. The name "Anglo-Saxon"
was certainly rather inappropriate, as the speakers of it were mostly
Saxons and not Angles at all; which leads up to the paradox that they
did not speak "English"; for that, in the extreme literal sense, was
the language of the Angles only! But now that the true relationship of
the old dialects is known, it is not uncommon for scholars to speak
of the Wessex dialect as "Saxon," and of the Northumbrian and Mercian
dialects as "Anglian"; for the latter are found to have some features
in common that differ sharply from those found in "Saxon."

Manuscripts in the Southern dialect are fairly abundant, and contain
poems, homilies, land-charters, laws, wills, translations of Latin
treatises, glossaries, etc.; so that there is considerable variety.
One of the most precious documents is the history known as the
_Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_, which was continued even after the Conquest
till the year 1154, when the death and burial of King Stephen were
duly recorded.

But specimens of the oldest forms of the Northern and Midland dialects
are, on the other hand, very much fewer in number than students of our
language desire, and are consequently deserving of special mention.
They are duly enumerated in the chapters below, which discuss these
dialects separately.

Having thus sketched out the broad divisions into which our dialects
may be distributed, I shall proceed to enter upon a particular
discussion of each group, beginning with the Northern or Northumbrian.



In Professor Earle's excellent manual on Anglo-Saxon Literature,
chapter V is entirely occupied with "the Anglian Period," and begins
thus:--"While Canterbury was so important a seminary of learning,
there was, in the Anglian region of Northumbria, a development of
religious and intellectual life which makes it natural to regard the
whole brilliant period from the later seventh to the early ninth
century as the Anglian Period.... Anglia became for a century the
light-spot of European history; and we here recognise the first great
stage in the revival of learning, and the first movement towards the
establishment of public order in things temporal and spiritual."

Unfortunately for the student of English, though perhaps fortunately
for the historian, the most important book belonging to this period
was written in Latin. This was the _Historia Ecclesiastica Gentis
Anglorum_, or the Church History of the Anglian People. The
writer was Beda, better known as "the Venerable Bede," who was born
near Wearmouth (Durham) in 672, and lived for the greater part of his
life at Jarrow, where he died in 735. He wrote several other works,
also in Latin, most of which Professor Earle enumerates. It is said of
Beda himself that he was "learned in our native songs," and it is
probable that he wrote many things in his native Northumbrian or
Durham dialect; but they have all perished, with the exception of one
precious fragment of five lines, printed by Dr Sweet (at p. 149) from
the St Gall MS. No. 254, of the ninth century. It is usually called
Beda's Death-song, and is here given:

  Fore there neidfaerae naenig uuiurthit
  thonc-snotturra than him thar[f] sie,
  to ymbhycggannae, aer his hin-iong[a]e,
  huaet his gastae, godaes aeththa yflaes,
  aefter deoth-daege doemid uueorth[a]e.

Literally translated, this runs as follows:

  Before the need-journey no one becomes
  more wise in thought than he ought to be,
  (in order) to contemplate, ere his going hence,
  what for his spirit, (either) of good or of evil,
  after (his) death-day, will be adjudged.

It is from Beda's _Church History_, Book IV, chap. 24 (or 22),
that we learn the story of Cædmon, the famous Northumbrian poet, who
was a herdsman and lay brother in the abbey of Whitby, in the days
of the abbess Hild, who died in 680, near the close of the seventh
century. He received the gift of divine song in a vision of the night;
and after the recognition by the abbess and others of his heavenly
call, became a member of the religious fraternity, and devoted the
rest of his life to the composition of sacred poetry.

  He sang (says Beda) the Creation of the world, the origin of the
  human race, and all the history of Genesis; the departure of Israel
  out of Egypt and their entrance into the land of promise, with many
  other histories from holy writ; the incarnation, passion, and
  resurrection of our Lord, and His ascension into heaven; the coming
  of the Holy Spirit and the teaching of the Apostles. Likewise of
  the terror of the future judgement, the horror of punishment in
  hell, and the bliss of the heavenly kingdom he made many poems;
  and moreover, many others concerning divine benefits and judgements;
  in all which he sought to wean men from the love of sin, and to
  stimulate them to the enjoyment and pursuit of good action.

It happens that we still possess some poems which answer more or less
to this description; but they are all of later date and are only known
from copies written in the Southern dialect of Wessex; and, as the
original Northumbrian text has unfortunately perished, we have no
means of knowing to what extent they represent Cædmon's work. It is
possible that they preserve some of it in a more or less close form of
translation, but we cannot verify this possibility. It has been
ascertained, on the other hand, that a certain portion (but by no
means all) of these poems is adapted, with but slight change,
from an original poem written in the Old Saxon of the continent.

Nevertheless, it so happens that a short hymn of nine lines has been
preserved nearly in the original form, as Cædmon dictated it; and it
corresponds closely with Beda's Latin version. It is found at the end
of the Cambridge MS. of Beda's _Historia Ecclesiastica_ in the
following form:

  Nu scylun hergan hefaenricaes uard,
  metudæs maecti end his modgidanc,
  uerc uuldurfadur; sue he uundra gihuaes,
  eci Dryctin, or astelidæ.
  He aerist scop aelda barnum
  heben til hrofe, haleg scepen[d].
  Tha middungeard moncynnæs uard,
  eci Dryctin, æfter tiadæ
  firum fold[u], frea allmectig.

I here subjoin a literal translation.

  Now ought we to praise the warden of heaven's realm,
  the Creator's might and His mind's thought,
  the works of the Father of glory; (even) as He, of every wonder,
  (being) eternal Ruler, established the beginning.
  He first (of all) shaped, for the sons of men,
  heaven as (their) roof, (He) the holy Creator.
  The middle world (He), mankind's warden,
  eternal Ruler, afterwards prepared,
  the world for men--(being the) Almighty Lord.

The locality of these lines is easily settled, as we may assign
them to Whitby. Similarly, Beda's Death-song may be assigned to the
county of Durham.

A third poem, extending to fourteen lines, may be called the
"Northumbrian Riddle." It is called by Dr Sweet the "Leiden Riddle,"
because the MS. that contains it is now at Leyden, in Holland. The
locality is unknown, but we may assign it to Yorkshire or Durham
without going far wrong. There is another copy in a Southern dialect.
These three brief poems, viz. Beda's Death-song, Cædmon's Hymn, and
the Riddle, are all printed, accessibly, in Sweet's _Anglo-Saxon

There is another relic of Old Northumbrian, apparently belonging to
the middle of the eighth century, which is too remarkable to be passed
over. I refer to the famous Ruthwell cross, situate not far to the
west of Annan, near the southern coast of Dumfriesshire, and near the
English border. On each of its four faces it bears inscriptions; on
two opposite faces in Latin, and on the other two in runic characters.
Each of the latter pair contains a few lines of Northern poetry,
selected from a poem (doubtless by the poet Cynewulf) which is
preserved in full in a much later Southern (or Wessex) copy in a MS.
at Vercelli in Piedmont (Italy). On the side which Professor Stephens
calls _the front_ of the cross, the runic inscriptions give us two
quotations, both imperfect at the end; and the same is true of the
opposite side or _back_. The MS. helps us to restore letters that are
missing or broken, and in this way we can be tolerably sure of the
correct readings.

The two quotations in front are as follows: it will be seen that the
cross itself is supposed to be the speaker.

1. [on]geredæ hinæ god almechttig
   tha he walde on galgu gistiga,
   modig fore allæ men; buga [ic ni darstæ.]

2. [ahof] ic riicnæ kyningc,
   heafunæs hlafard; hælda ic ni darstæ.
   bismæradu ungket men ba æt-gadre.
   ic wæs mith blodæ bistemid bigoten of [his sidan.]

The two quotations at the back are these:

3. Crist wæs on rodi;
   hwethræ ther fusæ fearran cwomu
   æththilæ til anum; ic thæt al biheald.
   sare ic wæs mith sorgum gidr{oe}fid;
   hnag [ic hwethræ tham secgum til handa.]

4. mith strelum giwundad
   alegdun hiæ hinæ limw{oe}rignæ;
   gistoddum him æt his licæs heafdum,
   bihealdun hiæ ther heafun[æs hlafard.]

The literal meaning of the lines is as follows:

1. God almighty stripped Himself
   when He would mount upon the gallows (the cross),
   courageous before all men; I (the cross) durst not bow down

2. I (the cross) reared up the royal King,
   the Lord of heaven; I durst not bend down.
   men reviled us two (the cross and Christ) both together.
   I was moistened with the blood poured forth from His side.

3. Christ was upon the cross;
   howbeit, thither came eagerly from afar
   princes to (see) that One; I beheld all that.
   sorely was I afflicted with sorrows;
   I submitted however to the men's hands.

4. wounded with arrows,
   they laid Him down, weary in His limbs.
   they stood beside Him, at the head of His corpse.
   they beheld there the Lord of heaven.

In the late MS. it is the cross that is wounded by arrows; whereas
in the runic inscription it seems to be implied that it was Christ
Himself that was so wounded. The allusion is in any case very obscure;
but the latter notion makes the better sense, and is capable of being
explained by the Norse legend of Balder, who was frequently shot at by
the other gods in sport, as he was supposed to be invulnerable; but he
was slain thus one day by a shaft made of mistletoe, which alone had
power to harm him.

There is also extant a considerable number of very brief inscriptions,
such as that on a column at Bewcastle, in Cumberland; but they
contribute little to our knowledge except the forms of proper names.
The _Liber Vitæ_ of Durham, written in the ninth century, contains
between three and four thousand such names, but nothing else.

Coming down to the tenth century, we meet with three valuable
documents, all of which are connected with Durham, generally known
as the Durham Ritual and the Northumbrian Gospels.

The Durham Ritual was edited for the Surtees Society in 1840 by the
Rev. J. Stevenson. The MS. is in the Cathedral library at Durham, and
contains three distinct Latin service-books, with Northumbrian glosses
in various later hands, besides a number of unglossed Latin additions.
A small portion of the MS. has been misplaced by the binder; the Latin
prose on pp. 138-145 should follow that on p. 162. Mr Stevenson's
edition exhibits a rather large number of misreadings, most of which
(I fear not quite all) are noted in my "Collation of the Durham Ritual"
printed in the _Philological Society's Transactions_, 1877-9, Appendix
II. I give, by way of specimen, a curious passage (at p. 192), which
tells us all about the eight pounds of material that went to make up
the body of Adam.

aehto pundo   of thæm   aworden is  Adam  pund   lames of thon
Octo  pondera de quibus factus  est Adam. Pondus limi, inde

aworden is flæsc  pund   fyres  of thon read   is  blod    and hat
factus  est caro; pondus ignis, inde    rubeus est sanguis et  calidus;

pund   saltes of thon sindon salto  tehero    pund   deawes of thon
pondus salis, inde    sunt   salsae lacrimae; pondus roris, unde

aworden is  swat   pund   blostmes of thon is  fagung   egena
factus  est sudor; pondus floris,  inde    est uarietas oculorum;

pund   wolcnes of thon is unstydfullnisse _vel_ unstatholfæstnisse
pondus nubis,  inde    est             instabilitas


pund   windes of thon is  oroth  cald     pund   gefe     of thon is
pondus uenti, inde    est anhela frigida: pondus gratiae, id      est

thoht  monnes
sensus hominis.

We thus learn that Adam's flesh was made of a pound of loam; his
red and hot blood, of fire; his salt tears, of salt; his sweat, of
dew; the colour of his eyes, of flowers; the instability of his
thoughts, of cloud; his cold breath, of wind; and his intelligence, of

The Northumbrian glosses on the four Gospels are contained in two
MSS., both of remarkable interest and value. The former of these,
sometimes known as the Lindisfarne MS., and sometimes as the Durham
Book, is now MS. Cotton, Nero D. 4 in the British Museum, and is one
of the chief treasures in our national collection. It contains a
beautifully executed Latin text of the four Gospels, written in the
isle of Lindisfarne, by Eadfrith (bishop of Lindisfarne in 698-721),
probably before 700. The interlinear Northumbrian gloss is two and a
half centuries later, and was made by Aldred, a priest, about 950, at
a time when the MS. was kept at Chester-le-Street, near Durham,
whither it had been removed for greater safety. Somewhat later it was
again removed to Durham, where it remained for several centuries.

The second MS. is called the Rushworth MS., as it was presented to the
Bodleian Library (Oxford) by John Rushworth, who was deputy-clerk to
the House of Commons during the Long Parliament. The Latin text was
written, probably in the eighth century, by a scribe named Macregol.
The gloss, written in the latter half of the tenth century, is in two
hands, those of Farman and Owun, whose names are given. Farman
was a priest of Harewood, on the river Wharfe, in the West Riding of
Yorkshire. He glossed the whole of St Matthew's Gospel, and a very
small portion of St Mark. It is worthy of especial notice, that his
gloss, throughout St Matthew, is not in the Northumbrian dialect, but
in a form of Mercian. But it is clear that when he had completed this
first Gospel, he borrowed the Lindisfarne MS. as a guide to help him,
and kept it before him when he began to gloss St Mark. He at once
began to copy the glosses in the older MS., with slight occasional
variations in the grammar; but he soon tired of his task, and turned
it over to Owun, who continued it to the end. The result is that the
Northumbrian glosses in this MS., throughout the three last Gospels,
are of no great value, as they tell us little more than can be better
learnt from the Durham book; on the other hand, Farman's Mercian gloss
to St Matthew is of high value, but need not be considered at present.
Hence it is best in this case to rely, for our knowledge of Old
Northumbrian, on the Durham book _alone_.

It must be remembered that a gloss is not quite the same thing as
a free translation that observes the rules of grammar. A gloss
translates the Latin text word by word, in the order of that text; so
that the glossator can neither observe the natural English order nor
in all cases preserve the English grammar; a fact which somewhat
lessens its value, and must always be allowed for. It is therefore
necessary, in all cases, to ascertain the Latin text. I subjoin a
specimen, from Matt, v 11-15.

    eadge aron ge mith thy yfle hia gecuoethas iuh    and mith thy
11. Beati estis   cum      maledixerunt        uobis  et  cum

oehtas    iuih        and cuoethas eghwelc yfel  with     iuih
persecuti uos fuerint et  dixerint omne    malum aduersum uos

gesuicas _vel_ wæges fore    mec     gefeath and wynnsumiath forthon
    mentientes       propter me. 12. gaudete et  exultate    quoniam

mearda iuere  monigfalde is _vel_ sint
merces uestra copiosa      est

        in heofnum suæ _vel_ suelce ec forthon
        in caelis    sic               enim

ge-oehton      tha witgo tha the weron   ær   iuih     gee
persecuti sunt prophetas qui     fuerunt ante uos. 13. Uos

sint  salt eorthes thæt gif salt forworthes in thon gesælted bith to
estis sal  terrae  quod si  sal  euanuerit  in quo  sallietur     ad

nowihte _vel_ nænihte mæge  ofer thæt
    nihilum           ualet ultra

        buta thæt gesended bith _vel_ geworpen út
        nisi ut       mittatur                 foras

and getreden bith from monnum
et  conculcetur   ab   hominibus

            gie aron _vel_ sint leht middangeardes
        14. Uos   estis         lux  mundi

ne  mæg    burug _vel_ ceastra gehyda _vel_ gedeigla ofer  mor   geseted
non potest     ciuitas             abscondi          supra monte posita.

    ne ec bernas    thæccille _vel_ leht-fæt
15. neque accendunt     lucernam

        and settas tha _vel_ hia unther mitte
        et  ponunt      eam           sub

_vel_ under sestre ah  ofer  leht-isern  and lihteth allum   tha the in
  modio            sed super candelabrum et  luceat  omnibus qui     in

hus  bithon _vel_ sint
domo   sunt.

The history of the Northern dialect during the next three centuries, from
the year 1000 to nearly 1300, with a few insignificant exceptions, is a
total blank.



A little before 1300, we come to a _Metrical English Psalter_,
published by the Surtees Society in 1843-7. The language is supposed to
represent the speech of Yorkshire. It is translated (rather closely) from
the Latin Vulgate version. I give a specimen from Psalm xviii, 14-20.

14. He sent his arwes, and skatered tha;
    Felefalded levening, and dreved tham swa.
15. And schewed welles of watres ware,
    And groundes of ertheli world unhiled are,
    For thi snibbing, Laverd myne;
    For onesprute of gast of wreth thine.
16. He sent fra hegh, and uptoke me;
    Fra many watres me nam he.
17. He out-toke me thare amang
    Fra my faas that war sa strang,
    And fra tha me that hated ai;
    For samen strenghthed over me war thai
18. Thai forcome me in daie of twinging,
    And made es Layered mi forhiling.
19. And he led me in brede to be;
    Sauf made he me, for he wald me;
20. And foryhelde to me Laverd sal
    After mi rightwisenes al.
    And after clensing of mi hende
    Sal he yhelde to me at ende.

The literal sense is:--"He sent His arrows and scattered them;
multiplied (His) lightning and so afflicted them. And the wells of
waters were shown, and the foundations of the earthly world are
uncovered because of Thy snubbing (rebuke), O my Lord! because of the
blast (Lat. _inspiratio_) of the breath of Thy wrath. He sent from
on high, and took me up; from many waters He took me. He took me out
there-among from my foes that were so strong, and from those that
alway hated me; for they were strengthened together over me. They
came before me in the day of affliction, and the Lord is made my
protection. And He led me (so as) to be in a broad place; He made me
safe, because He desired (lit. would) me; and the Lord shall requite
me according to all my righteousness, and according to the cleanness
of my hands shall He repay me in the end."

In this specimen we can already discern some of the chief
characteristics which are so conspicuous in Lowland Scotch MSS. of
the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. The most striking is the
almost total loss of the final _-e_ which is so frequently required
to form an extra syllable when we try to scan the poetry of Chaucer.
Even where a final _-e_ is written in the above extract, it is wholly
silent. The words _ware_ (were), _are_ (are), _myne_, _thine_, _toke_,
_made_, _brede_, _hende_, _ende_, are all monosyllabic; and in fact
the large number of monosyllabic words is very striking. The words
_onesprute_, _forcome_, _foryhelde_ are, in like manner, dissyllabic.
The only suffixes that count in the scansion are _-en_, _-ed_, and
_-es_; as in _sam-en_, _skat'r-èd_, _drev-èd_, _hat-èd_, etc., and
_arw-ès_, _well-ès_, _watr-ès_, etc. The curious form _sal_, for
"shall," is a Northern characteristic. So also is the form _hende_ as
the plural of "hand"; the Southern plural was often _hond-en_, and the
Midland form was _hond-ès_ or _hand-ès_. Note also the characteristic
long _a_; as in _swa_ for _swo_, so; _gast_, ghost; _fra_, fro;
_faas_, foes. It was pronounced like the _a_ in _father_.

A much longer specimen of the _Metrical English Psalter_ will be
found in _Specimens of Early English_, ed. Morris and Skeat, Part II,
pp. 23-34, and is easily accessible. In the same volume, the Specimens
numbered VII, VIII, X, XI, and XVI are also in Northumbrian, and can
easily be examined. It will therefore suffice to give a very brief
account of each.

VII. _Cursor Mundi_, or _Cursor o Werld_, i.e. Over-runner of the
World; so called because it rehearses a great part of the world's
history, from the creation onwards. It is a poem of portentous length,
extending to 29,655 lines, and recounts many of the events found in
the Old and New Testaments, with the addition of legends from many
other sources, one of them, for example, being the _Historia
Scholastica_ of Peter Comestor. Dr Murray thinks it may have been
written in the neighbourhood of Durham. The specimen given (pp. 69-82)
corresponds to lines 11373-11796.

VIII. _Sunday Homilies in Verse_; about 1330. The extracts are taken
from _English Metrical Homilies_, edited by J. Small (Edinburgh, 1862)
from a MS. in Edinburgh. The Northern dialect is well marked, but I do
not know to what locality to assign it.

X. Richard Rolle, of Hampole, near Doncaster, wrote a poem called
_The Prick of Conscience_, about 1340. It extends to 9624 lines,
and was edited by Dr Morris for the Philological Society in 1863.
The Preface to this edition is of especial value, as it carefully
describes the characteristics of Northumbrian, and practically laid
the foundation of our knowledge of the old dialects as exhibited in
MSS. Lists are given of orthographical differences between the
Northern dialect and others, and an analysis is added giving the
grammatical details which determine its Northern character. Much of
this information is repeated in the Introduction to the _Specimens
of English_, Part II, pp. xviii-xxxviii.

XI. _The Poems of Laurence Minot_ belong to the middle of the
fourteenth century. He composed eleven poems in celebration of events
that occurred between the years 1333 and 1352. They were first printed
by Ritson in 1795; and subsequently by T. Wright, in his _Political
Poems and Songs_ (London, 1859); and are now very accessible in the
excellent and cheap (second) edition by Joseph Hall (Oxford University
Press). There is also a German edition by Dr Wilhelm Scholle. The poet
seems to have been connected with Yorkshire, and the dialect is not
purely Northern, as it shows a slight admixture of Midland forms.

XVI. _The Bruce_; by John Barbour; partly written in 1375. It has
been frequently printed, viz. in 1616, 1620, 1670, 1672, 1715, 1737,
and 1758; and was edited by Pinkerton in 1790, by Jamieson in 1820,
and by Cosmo Innes in 1866; also by myself (for the Early English Text
Society) in 1870-89; and again (for the Scottish Text Society) in
1893-5. Unfortunately, the two extant MSS. were both written out about
a century after the date of composition. Nevertheless, we have the
text of more than 260 lines as it existed in 1440, as this portion
was quoted by Andro of Wyntown, in his _Cronykil of Scotland_,
written at that date. I quote some lines from this portion, taken
from _The Bruce_, Book i, 37-56, 91-110; with a few explanations in
the footnotes.

  Qwhen Alysandyre oure kyng wes dede,
  That Scotland had to stere{1} and lede,
  The land sex yhere and mayr perfay{2}
  Wes desolate efftyr his day.
  The barnage{3} off Scotland, at the last,
  Assemblyd thame, and fandyt{4} fast
  To chess{5} a kyng, thare land to stere,
  That off awncestry cummyn were
  Off kyngis that aucht{6} that reawté{7},
  And mast{8} had rycht thare kyng to be.

  But inwy{9}, that is sa fellowne{10},
  Amang thame mad dissensiown:
  For sum wald have the Ballyolle kyng,
  For he wes cumyn off that ofspryng
  That off the eldest systere was;
  And other sum nyt{11} all that cas,
  And sayd, that he thare kyng suld be,
  That wes in als nere{12} degre,
  And cummyn wes off the nerrast male
  In thai{13} brawnchys collateralle...

    1: _govern_
    2: _more, by my faith_
    3: _nobility_
    4: _endeavoured_
    5: _choose_
    6: _possessed_
    7: _royalty_
    8: _most_
    9: _envy_
    10: _wicked_
    11: _others denied_
    12: _as near_
    13: _those_ }

  A! blynd folk, fulle off all foly,
  Had yhe wmbethowcht{14} yowe inkkyrly{15}
  Quhat peryle to yowe mycht appere,
  Yhe had noucht wroucht on this manèr.
  Had yhe tane kepe{16}, how that that kyng
  Off Walys, forowtyn sudiowrnyng{17},
  Trawaylyd{18} to wyn the senyhowry{19},
  And throw his mycht till occupy
  Landys, that ware till hym marchand{20},
  As Walys was, and als Irland,
  That he put till sic threllage{21},
  That thai, that ware off hey parage{22},
  Suld ryn on fwte, as rybalddale{23},
  Quhen ony folk he wald assale.
  Durst nane of Walis in batale ryd,
  Na yhit, fra evyn fell{24}, abyde
  Castell or wallyd towne within,
  Than{25} he suld lyff and lymmys tyne{26}.
  Into swylk thryllage{27} thame held he
  That he owre-come with his powsté{28}.

    14: _bethought_
    15: _especially_
    16: _taken heed_
    17: _without delay_
    18: _laboured_
    19: _sovereignty_
    20: _bordering_
    21: _such subjection_
    22: _high rank_
    23: _rabble_
    24: _after evening fell_
    25: _but_
    26: _lose_
    27: _thraldom_
    28: _power_ }

In this extract, as in that from the _Metrical Psalter_ above, there
is a striking preponderance of monosyllables, and, as in that case
also, the final _-e_ is invariably silent in such words as _oure_,
_stere_, _lede_, _yhere_, _thare_, _were_, etc., just as in modern
English. The grammar is, for the most part, extremely simple, as at
the present day. The chief difficulty lies in the vocabulary, which
contains some words that are either obsolete or provincial. Many of
the obsolete words are found in other dialects; thus _stere_, to
control, _perfay_, _fonden_ (for _fanden_), _chesen_, to choose,
_feloun_, adj. meaning "angry," _take kepe_, _soiourne_, to tarry,
_travaile_, to labour, _parage_, rank, all occur in Chaucer;
_barnage_, _reauté_, in _William of Palerne_ (in the Midland dialect,
possibly Shropshire); _oughte_, owned, possessed, _tyne_, to lose, in
_Piers the Plowman_; _umbethinken_, in the _Ormulum_; _enkerly_ (for
_inkkyrly_), in the alliterative _Morte Arthure_; _march_, to border
upon, in _Mandeville_; _seignorie_, in _Robert of Gloucester_. Barbour
is rather fond of introducing French words; _rybalddale_ occurs in no
other author. _Threllage_ or _thryllage_ may have been coined from
_threll_ (English _thrall_), by adding a French suffix. As to the
difficult word _nyt_, see _Nite_ in the _N.E.D._

In addition to the poems, etc., already mentioned, further material
may be found in the prose works of Richard Rolle of Hampole,
especially his translation and exposition of the Psalter, edited by
the Rev. H.R. Bramley (Oxford, 1884), and the Prose Treatises edited
by the Rev. G.G. Perry for the Early English Text Society. Dr Murray
further calls attention to the Early Scottish Laws, of which the
vernacular translations partly belong to the fourteenth century.

I have now mentioned the chief authorities for the study of the
Northern dialect from early times down to 1400. Examination of them
leads directly to a result but little known, and one that is in direct
contradiction to general uninstructed opinion; namely that, down to
this date, the varieties of Northumbrian are much fewer and slighter
than they afterwards became, and that the written documents are
practically all in one and the same dialect, or very nearly so, from
the Humber as far north as Aberdeen. The irrefragable results noted by
Dr Murray will probably come as a surprise to many, though they
have now been before the public for more than forty years. The Durham
dialect of the _Cursor Mundi_ and the Aberdeen Scotch of Barbour
are hardly distinguishable by grammatical or orthographical tests; and
both bear a remarkable resemblance to the Yorkshire dialect as found
in Hampole. What is now called Lowland Scotch is so nearly descended
from the Old Northumbrian that the latter was invariably called
"Ingliss" by the writers who employed it; and they reserved the name
of "Scottish" to designate Gaelic or Erse, the tongue of the original
"Scots," who gave their name to the country. Barbour (_Bruce_, IV 253)
calls his own language "Ynglis." Andro of Wyntown does the same, near
the beginning of the Prologue to his _Cronykil_. The most striking
case is that of Harry the Minstrel, who was so opposed to all
Englanders, from a political point of view, that his whole poem
breathes fury and hatred against them; and yet, in describing
Wallace's French friend, Longueville, who knew no tongue but his
own, he says of him (_Wallace_, IX 295-7):

  Lykly he was, manlik of contenance,
  _Lik to the Scottis_ be mekill governance
  _Saiff off his tong_, for _Inglis_ had he nane.

Later still, Dunbar, near the conclusion of his _Golden Targe_,
apostrophises Chaucer as being "in _oure Tong_ ane flouir imperiall,"
and says that he was "_of oure Inglisch_ all the lycht." It was not
till 1513 that Gawain Douglas, in the Prologue to the first book of
his translation of Virgil, claimed to have "writtin in the langage of
Scottis natioun"; though Sir David Lyndesay, writing twenty-two years
later, still gives the name of the "Inglisch toung" to the vulgar
tongue of Scotland, in his _Satyre of the three Estaitis_.

We should particularly notice Dr Murray's statement, in his essay on
_The Dialect of the Southern Counties of Scotland_, at p. 29, that
"Barbour at Aberdeen, and Richard Rolle de Hampole near Doncaster,
wrote for their several countrymen in the same identical dialect." The
division between the English of the Scottish Lowlands and the English
of Yorkshire was purely political, having no reference to race or
speech, but solely to locality; and yet, as Dr Murray remarks, the
struggle for supremacy "made every one either an Englishman or a
Scotchman, and made English and Scotch names of division and bitter
enmity." So strong, indeed, was the division thus created that it
has continued to the present day; and it would be very difficult even
now to convince a native of the Scottish Lowlands--unless he is a
philologist--that he is likely to be of Anglian descent, and to have
a better title to be called an "Englishman" than a native of Hampshire
or Devon, who, after all, may be only a Saxon. And of course it is
easy enough to show how widely the old "Northern" dialect varies from
the difficult Southern English found in the Kentish _Ayenbite of
Inwyt_, or even from the Midland of Chaucer's poems.

To quote from Dr Murray once more (p. 41):

  "the facts are still far from being generally known, and I have
  repeatedly been amused, on reading passages from _Cursor Mundi_ and
  Hampole to men of education, both English and Scotch, to hear them
  all pronounce the dialect 'Old Scotch.' Great has been the surprise
  of the latter especially on being told that Richard the Hermit [i.e.
  of Hampole] wrote in the extreme south of Yorkshire, within a few
  miles of a locality so thoroughly English as Sherwood Forest, with
  its memories of Robin Hood. Such is the difficulty which people
  have in separating the natural and ethnological relations in which
  national names originate from the accidental values which they
  acquire through political complications and the fortunes of crowns
  and dynasties, that oftener than once the protest has been made--
  'Then he must have been a Scotchman settled there!'"

The retort is obvious enough, that Barbour and Henry the Minstrel and
Dunbar and Lyndesay have all recorded that their native language was
"Inglis" or "Inglisch"; and it is interesting to note that, having
regard to the pronunciation, they seem to have known, better than we
do, how that name ought to be spelt.



The subject of the last chapter was one of great importance. When it
is once understood that, down to 1400 or a little later, the men of
the Scottish Lowlands and the men of the northern part of England
spoke not only the same language, but the same dialect of that
language, it becomes easy to explain what happened afterwards.

There was, nevertheless, one profound difference between the
circumstances of the language spoken to the north of the Tweed and
that spoken to the south of it. In Scotland, the Northumbrian dialect
was spoken by all but the Celts, without much variety; the minor
differences need not be here considered. And this dialect, called
Inglis (as we have seen) by the Lowlanders themselves, had no rival,
as the difference between it and the Erse or Gaelic was obvious and

To the South of the Tweed, the case was different. England already
possessed three dialects at least, viz. Northumbrian, Mercian,
and Saxon, i.e. Northern, Midland, and Southern; besides which,
Midland had at the least two main varieties, viz. Eastern and Western.
Between all these there was a long contention for supremacy. In
very early days, the Northern took the lead, but its literature was
practically destroyed by the Danes, and it never afterwards attained
to anything higher than a second place. From the time of Alfred, the
standard language of literature was the Southern, and it kept the lead
till long after the Conquest, well down to 1200 and even later, as
will be explained hereafter. But the Midland dialect, which is not
without witness to its value in the ninth century, began in the
thirteenth to assume an important position, which in the fourteenth
became dominant and supreme, exalted as it was by the genius of
Chaucer. Its use was really founded on practical convenience. It
was intermediate between the other two, and could be more or less
comprehended both by the Northerner and the Southerner, though these
could hardly understand each other. The result was, naturally, that
whilst the Northumbrian to the north of the Tweed was practically
supreme, the Northumbrian to the south of it soon lost its position
as a literary medium. It thus becomes clear that we must, during
the fifteenth century, treat the Northumbrian of England and that of
Scotland separately. Let us first investigate its position in England.

But before this can be appreciated, it is necessary to draw
attention to the fact that the literature of the fifteenth century,
in nearly all the text-books that treat of the subject, has been most
unjustly underrated. The critics, nearly all with one accord, repeat
the remark that it is a "barren" period, with nothing admirable about
it, at any rate in England; that it shows us the works of Hoccleve
and Lydgate near the beginning, _The Flower and the Leaf_ near the
middle (about 1460), and the ballad of _The Nut-brown Maid_ at the
end of it, and nothing else that is remarkable. In other words, they
neglect its most important characteristic, that it was the chief
period of the lengthy popular romances and of the popular plays out of
which the great dramas of the succeeding century took their rise. To
which it deserves to be added that it contains many short poems of a
fugitive character, whilst a vast number of very popular ballads were
in constant vogue, sometimes handed down without much change by a
faithful tradition, but more frequently varied by the fancy of the
more competent among the numerous wandering minstrels. To omit from
the fifteenth century nearly all account of its romances and plays
and ballads is like omitting the part of Hamlet the Dane from
Shakespeare's greatest tragedy.

The passion for long romances or romantic poems had already arisen in
the fourteenth century, and, to some extent, in the thirteenth. Even
just before 1300, we meet with the lays of _Havelok_ and _Horn_. In
the fourteenth century, it is sufficient to mention the romances of
_Sir Guy of Warwick_ (the earlier version), _Sir Bevis of Hamtoun_,
and _Libeaus Desconus_, all mentioned by Chaucer; _Sir Launfal_,
_The Seven Sages_ (earlier version, as edited by Weber); _Lai le
Freine_, _Richard Coer de Lion_, _Amis and Amiloun_, _The King of
Tars_, _William of Palerne_, _Joseph of Arimathea_ (a fragment),
_Sir Gawain and the Grene Knight_, _Alisaunder of Macedoine_ and
_Alexander and Dindimus_ (two fragments of one very long poem),
_Sir Ferumbras_, and _Sir Isumbras_. The spirited romance generally
known as the alliterative _Morte Arthure_ must also belong here,
though the MS. itself is of later date.

The series was actively continued during the fifteenth century, when
we find, besides others, the romances of _Iwain and Gawain_, _Sir
Percival_, and _Sir Cleges_; _The Sowdon_ (Sultan) _of Babylon_;
_The Aunturs_ (Adventures) _of Arthur_, _Sir Amadas_, _The Avowing
of Arthur_, and _The Life of Ipomidoun_; _The Wars of Alexander_,
_The Seven Sages_ (later version, edited by Wright); _Torrent of
Portugal_, _Sir Gowther_, _Sir Degrevant_, _Sir Eglamour_, _Le Bone
Florence of Rome_, and _Partonope of Blois_; the prose version of
_Merlin_, the later version of _Sir Guy of Warwick_, and the verse
Romance, of immense length, of _The Holy Grail_; _Emare_, _The Erl
of Tolous_, and _The Squire of Low Degree_. Towards the end of the
century, when the printing-press was already at work, we find Caxton
greatly busying himself to continue the list. Not only did he give us
the whole of Sir Thomas Malory's _Morte D'Arthur_, "enprynted and
fynysshed in thabbey Westmestre the last day of Iuyl, the yere of our
lord MCCCCLXXXV"; but he actually translated several romances into
very good English prose on his own account, viz. _Godefroy of Boloyne_
(1481), _Charles the Grete_ (1485), _The Knight Paris and the fair
Vyene_ (1485), _Blanchardyn and Eglantine_ (about 1489), and _The Four
Sons of Aymon_ (about 1490). We must further put to the credit of the
fifteenth century the remarkable English version of the _Gesta
Romanorum_, and many more versions by Caxton, such as _The Recuyell
of the Historyes of Troye_, _The Life of Jason_, _Eneydos_ (which is
Virgil's _Æneid_ in the form of a prose romance), _The Golden Legend_
or Lives of Saints, and _Reynard the Fox_. When all these works are
considered, the fifteenth century emerges with considerable credit.

It remains to look at some of the above-named romances a little more
closely, in order to see if any of them are in the dialect of Northern
England. Some of them are written by scribes belonging to other parts,
but there seems to be little doubt that the following were in that
dialect originally, viz. (1) _Iwain and Gawain_, printed in Ritson's
_Ancient Metrical Romances_, and belonging to the very beginning of
the century, extant in the same MS. as that which contains Minot's
_Poems_: (2) _The Wars of Alexander_ (Early English Text Society,
1886), edited by myself; see the Preface, pp. xv, xix, for proofs that
it was originally written in a pure Northumbrian dialect, which the
better of the two MSS. very fairly preserves. Others exhibit strong
traces of a Northern dialect, such as _The Aunturs of Arthur_,
_Sir Amadas_, and _The Avowing of Arthur_, but they may be in a West
Midland dialect, not far removed from the North. In the preface to
_The Sege of Melayne_ (Milan) _and Roland and Otuel_, edited for the
Early English Text Society by S.J. Herrtage, it is suggested that
both these poems were by the author of _Sir Percival_, and that all
three were originally in the dialect of the North of England.

_Iwain and Gawain_ and _The Wars of Alexander_ belong to quite the
beginning of the fifteenth century, and they appear to be among the
latest examples of the literary use of dialect in the North of England
considered as a vehicle for romances; but we must not forget the
"miracle plays," and in particular _The Towneley Mysteries_ or plays
acted at or near Wakefield in Yorkshire, and _The York Plays_, lately
edited by Miss Toulmin Smith. Examples of Southern English likewise
come to an end about the same time; it is most remarkable how very
soon, after the death of Chaucer, the Midland dialect not only assumed
a leading position, but enjoyed that proud position almost alone. The
rapid loss of numerous inflexions, soon after 1400, made that dialect,
which was already in possession of such important centres as London,
Oxford, and Cambridge, much easier to learn, and brought its grammar
much nearer to that in use in the North. It even compromised, as it
were, with that dialect by accepting from it the general use of such
important words as _they_, _their_, _them_, the plural verb _are_,
and the preposition _till_. There can be little doubt that one of the
causes of the cessation of varying forms of words in literary use was
the civil strife known as the Wars of the Roses, which must for a
brief period have been hostile to all literary activity; and very
shortly afterwards the printing-presses of London all combined to
recognise, in general, one dialect only.

Hence it came about, by a natural but somewhat rapid process, that the
only dialect which remained unaffected by the triumph of the Midland
variety was that portion of the Northern dialect which still held its
own in Scotland, where it was spoken by subjects of another king. As
far as literature was concerned, only two dialects were available, the
Northumbrian of Scotland and the East Midland in England. It is
obvious that the readiest way of distinguishing between the two is to
call the one "Scottish" and the other "English," ignoring accuracy for
the sake of practical convenience. This is precisely what happened in
course of time, and the new nomenclature would have done no harm if
the study of Middle English had been at all general. But such was not
the case, and the history of our literature was so much neglected that
even those who should have been well informed knew no better than
others. The chief modern example is the well-known case of that most
important and valuable book entitled _An Etymological Dictionary of
the Scottish Language_, by John Jamieson, D.D., first published in
Edinburgh in 1808. There is no great harm in the title, if for
"Language" we read "Dialect"; but this great and monumental work was
unluckily preceded by a "Dissertation on the Origin of the Scottish
Language," in which wholly mistaken and wrongheaded views are
supported with great ingenuity and much show of learning. In the
admirable new edition of "Jamieson" by Longmuir and Donaldson,
published at Paisley in 1879, this matter is set right. They quite
rightly reprint this "Dissertation," which affords valuable testimony
as to the study of English in 1808, but accompany it with most
judicious remarks, which are well worthy of full repetition.

  "That once famous Dissertation can now be considered only a notable
  feat of literary card-building; more remarkable for the skill and
  ingenuity of its construction than for its architectural correctness,
  strength and durability, or practical usefulness. That the language
  of the Scottish Lowlands is in all important particulars the same
  as that of the northern counties of England, will be evident to
  any unbiassed reader who takes the trouble to compare the Scottish
  Dictionary with the Glossaries of Brockett, Atkinson, and Peacock.
  And the similarity is attested in another way by the simple but
  important fact, that regarding some of our Northern Metrical
  Romances it is still disputed whether they were composed to the
  north or the south of the Tweed.... And to this conclusion all
  competent scholars have given their consent."

For those who really understand the situation there is no harm in
accepting the distinction between "Scottish" and "English," as
explained above. Hence it is that the name of "Middle Scots" has been
suggested for "the literary language of Scotland written between the
latter half of the fifteenth century and the early decades of the
seventeenth." Most of this literature is highly interesting, at any
rate much more so than the "English" literature of the same period, as
has been repeatedly remarked. Indeed, this is so well known that
special examples are needless; I content myself with referring to the
_Specimens of Middle Scots_, by G. Gregory Smith, Edinburgh and London,
1902. These specimens include extracts from such famous authors as
Henryson, Dunbar, Gawain (or Gavin) Douglas, Sir David Lyndesay, John
Knox, and George Buchanan. Perhaps it is well to add that "Scottis"
or "Scots" is the Northern form of "Scottish" or "Scotch"; just as
"Inglis" is the Northern form of "English."

"Middle Scots" implies both "Old Scots" and "Modern Scots." "Old
Scots" is, of course, the same thing as Northumbrian or Northern
English of the Middle English Period, which may be roughly dated as
extant from 1300 to 1400 or 1450. "Modern Scots" is the dialect (when
they employ dialect) illustrated by Allan Ramsay, Alexander Ross,
Robert Tannahill, John Galt, James Hogg (the Ettrick Shepherd),
Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, and very many others.

I conclude this chapter with a characteristic example of Middle Scots.
The following well-known passage is from the conclusion to Dunbar's
_Golden Targe_.

  And as I did awake of my sweving{1},
  The ioyfull birdis merily did syng
    For myrth of Phebus tendir bemës schene{2};
  Swete war the vapouris, soft the morowing{3},
  Halesum the vale, depaynt wyth flouris ying{4};
    The air attemperit, sobir, and amene{5};
    In quhite and rede was all the feld besene{6}
  Throu Naturis nobil fresch anamalyng{7},
    In mirthfull May, of eviry moneth Quene.

  O reverend Chaucere, rose of rethoris{8} all,
  As in oure tong ane flour{9} imperiall,
    That raise{10} in Britane evir, quho redis rycht,
  Thou beris of makaris{11} the tryúmph riall;
  Thy fresch anamalit termës celicall{12}
    This mater coud illumynit have full brycht;
    Was thou noucht of oure Inglisch all the lycht,
  Surmounting eviry tong terrestriall
    Als fer as Mayis morow dois mydnycht?

  O morall Gower, and Ludgate laureate,
  Your sugurit lippis and tongis aureate{13}
    Bene to oure eris cause of grete delyte;
  Your angel mouthis most mellifluate{14}
  Oure rude langage has clere illumynate,
    And faire our-gilt{15} oure speche, that imperfýte
    Stude, or{16} your goldyn pennis schupe{17} to wryte;
  This ile before was bare, and desolate
    Of rethorike, or lusty{18} fresch endyte{19}.

    1: _dream_
    2: _bright_
    3: _morn_
    4: _young_
    5: _pleasant_
    6: _arrayed_
    7: _enamelling_
    8: _orators_
    9: _flower_
   10: _didst rise_
   11: _poets_
   12: _heavenly_
   13: _golden_
   14: _honeyed_
   15: _overgilt_
   16: _ere_
   17: _undertook_
   18: _pleasant_
   19: _composition_}



We have seen that the earliest dialect to assume literary supremacy
was the Northern, and that at a very early date, namely, in the
seventh, eighth, and ninth centuries; but its early documents have
nearly all perished. If, with the exception of one short fragment, any
of Cædmon's poems have survived, they only exist in Southern versions
of a much later date.

The chief fosterer of our rather extensive Wessex (or Southern)
literature, commonly called Anglo-Saxon, was the great Alfred, born
at Wantage in Berkshire, to the south of the Thames. We may roughly
define the limits of the Old Southern dialect by saying that it
formerly included all the counties to the south of the Thames and to
the west and south-west of Berkshire, including Wiltshire, Dorsetshire,
Somersetshire, and Devonshire, but excluding Cornwall, in which
the Cornish dialect of Celtic prevailed. It was at Athelney in
Somersetshire, near the junction of the rivers Tone and Parrett, that
Alfred, in the memorable year 878, when his dominions were reduced to
a precarious sway over two or three counties, established his famous
stronghold; from which he issued to inflict upon the foes of the
future British empire a crushing and decisive defeat. And it was near
Athelney, in the year 1693, that the ornament of gold and enamel was
found, with its famous legend--ÆLFRED MEC HEHT GEWYRCAN--"Ælfred
commanded (men) to make me."

From his date to the Norman Conquest, the MSS. in the Anglo-Saxon or
Southern dialect are fairly numerous, and it is mainly to them that we
owe our knowledge of the grammar, the metre, and the pronunciation of
the older forms of English. Sweet's _Anglo-Saxon Primer_ will enable
any one to begin the study of this dialect, and to learn something
valuable about it in the course of a month or two.

The famous _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_, beginning with a note concerning
the year 1, when Augustus was emperor of Rome, not only continues our
history down to the Conquest, but for nearly a century beyond it, to
the year 1154. The language of the latter part, as extant in the
(Midland) Laud MS., belongs to the twelfth century, and shows
considerable changes in the spelling and grammar as compared with
the Parker MS., which (not counting in a few later entries) ends
with the year 1001.

After the Conquest, the Southern dialect continued to be the literary
language, and we have several examples of it. Extracts from some of
the chief works are given in Part I of Morris's _Specimens of Early
English_. They are selected from the following: (1) _Old English
Homilies_, 1150-1200, as printed for the Early English Text Society,
and edited by Dr Morris, 1867-8. (2) _Old English Homilies, Second
Series_, before 1200, ed. Morris (E.E.T.S.), 1873. (3) _The Brut_,
being a versified chronicle of the legendary history of Britain,
compiled by Layamon, a Worcestershire priest, and extending to 32,240
(short) lines; in two versions, the date of the earlier being about
1205. (4) _A Life of St Juliana_, in two versions, about 1210; ed.
Cockayne and Brock (E.E.T.S.), 1872. (5) _The Ancren Riwle_, or Rule
of anchorite nuns (Camden Society), ed. Morton, 1853; the date of
composition is about 1210. (6) _The Proverbs of Alfred_, about 1250;
printed in Dr Morris's _Old English Miscellany_ (E.E.T.S.), 1872.
A later edition, by myself, was printed at Oxford in 1907. (7) A poem
by Nicholas de Guildford, entitled _The Owl and the Nightingale_,
about 1250; ed. Rev. J. Stevenson, 1838; ed. T. Wright, 1843; ed. F.H.
Stratmann, of Krefeld, 1868. (8) A curious poem of nearly 400 long
lines, usually known as _A Moral Ode_, which seems to have been
originally written at Christchurch, Hampshire, and frequently printed;
one version is in Morris's _Old English Homilies_, and another in the
Second Series of the same. (9) _The Romance of King Horn_; before
1300, here printed in full.

Just at the very end of the century we meet with two Southern poems
of vast length. _The Metrical Chronicle_ of Robert of Gloucester,
comprising the History of Britain from the Siege of Troy to the year
1272, the date of the accession of Edward I, and written in the
dialect of Gloucester, was completed in 1298. It must seem strange to
many to find that our history is thus connected with the Siege of
Troy; but it must be remembered that our old histories, including
Layamon's poem of _The Brut_ mentioned above, usually included the
fabulous history of very early Britain as narrated by Geoffrey
of Monmouth; and it is useful to remember that we owe to this
circumstance such important works as Shakespeare's _King Lear_ and
_Cymbeline_, as well as the old play of _Locrine_, once attributed
to Shakespeare. According to Robert's version of Geoffrey's story,
Britain was originally called Brutain, after Brut or Brutus, the son
of Æneas. Locrin was the eldest son of Brutus and his wife Innogen,
and defeated Humber, king of Hungary, in a great battle; after which
Humber was drowned in the river which still bears his name. Locrin's
daughter Averne (or Sabre in Geoffrey) was drowned likewise, in the
river which was consequently called Severn. The British king Bathulf
(or, in Geoffrey, Bladud) was the builder of Bath; and the son of
Bladud was Leir, who had three daughters, named Gornorille, Began, and
Cordeille. Kymbel (in Geoffrey, Kymbelinus), who had been brought up
by Augustus Cæsar, was king of Britain at the time of the birth of
Christ; his sons were Guider and Arvirag (Guiderius and Arviragus).
Another king of Britain was King Cole, who gave name (says Geoffrey
falsely) to Colchester. We come into touch with authentic history with
the reign of Vortigern, when Hengist and Horsa sailed over to Britain.
An extract from Robert of Gloucester is given in _Specimens of Early
English_, Part II.

The other great work of the same date is the vast collection edited
for the Early English Text Society by Dr Horstmann in 1887, entitled,
_The Early South-English Legendary_, or Lives of Saints. It is extant
in several MSS., of which the oldest (MS. Laud 108) originally
contained 67 Lives; with an Appendix, in a later hand, containing
two more. The eleventh Life is that of St Dunstan, which is printed
in _Specimens of Early English_, Part II, from another MS.

Soon after the year 1300 the use of the Southern dialect becomes
much less frequent, with the exception of such pieces as belong
particularly to the county of Kent and will be considered by
themselves. There are two immense manuscript collections of various
poems, originally in various dialects, which are worth notice.
One of these is the Harleian MS. No. 2253, in the British Museum, the
scribe of which has reduced everything into the South-Western dialect,
though it is plain that, in many cases, it is not the dialect in which
the pieces were originally composed; this famous manuscript belongs to
the beginning of the fourteenth century. Many poems were printed from
it, with the title of _Altenglische Dichtungen_, by Dr K. Böddeker,
in 1878. Another similar collection is contained in the Vernon MS. at
Oxford, and belongs to the very end of the same century; the poems in
it are all in a Southern dialect, which is that of the scribe. It
contains, e.g., a copy of the earliest version of _Piers the Plowman_,
which would have been far more valuable if the scribe had retained the
spelling of his copy. This may help us to realise one of the great
difficulties which beset the study of dialects, namely, that we
usually find copies of old poems reduced to the scribe's _own_
dialect; and it may easily happen that such a copy varies
considerably from the correct form.

It has already been shown that the rapid rise and spread of the
Midland dialect during the fourteenth century practically put an
end to the literary use of Northern not long after 1400, except in
Scotland. It affected Southern in the same way, but at a somewhat
earlier date; so that (even in Kent) it is very difficult to find a
Southern work after 1350. There is, however, one remarkable exception
in the case of a work which may be dated in 1387, written by John
Trevisa. Trevisa (as the prefix Tre- suggests) was a native of
Cornwall, but he resided chiefly in Gloucestershire, where he was
vicar of Berkeley, and chaplain to Thomas Lord Berkeley. The work
to which I here refer is known as his translation of Higden. Ralph
Higden, a Benedictine monk in the Abbey of St Werburg at Chester,
wrote in Latin a long history of the world in general, and of Britain
in particular, with the title of the _Polychronicon_, which achieved
considerable popularity. The first book of this history contains 60
chapters, the first of which begins with P, the second with R, and
so on. If all these initials are copied out in their actual order,
we obtain a complete sentence, as follows:--"Presentem cronicam
compilavit Frater Ranulphus Cestrensis monachus"; i.e. Brother Ralph,
monk of Chester, compiled the present chronicle. I mention this
curious device on the part of Higden because another similar acrostic
occurs elsewhere. It so happens that Higden's _Polychronicon_ was
continued, after his death, by John Malverne, who brought down the
history to a later date, and included in it an account of a certain
Thomas Usk, with whom he seems to have been acquainted. Now, in a
lengthy prose work of about 1387, called _The Testament of Love_,
I one day discovered that its author had adopted a similar device--no
doubt imitating Higden--and had so arranged that the initial letters
of his chapters should form a sentence, as follows:--"Margarete of
virtw, have merci on Thsknvi." There is no difficulty about the
expression "Margarete of virtw," because the treatise itself explains
that it means Holy Church, but I could make nothing of _Thsknvi_, as
the letters evidently require rearrangement. But Mr Henry Bradley, one
of the editors of the _New English Dictionary_, discovered that the
chapters near the end of the treatise are out of order; and when he
had restored sense by putting them as they should be, the new reading
of the last seven letters came out as "thin vsk," i.e. "thine Usk";
and the attribution of this treatise to Thomas Usk clears up every
difficulty and fits in with all that John Malverne says. This, in
fact, is the happy solution of the authorship of _The Testament of
Love_, which was once attributed to Chaucer, though it is obviously
not his at all.

But it is time to return to John Trevisa, Higden's translator. This
long translation is all in the Southern dialect, originally that of
Gloucestershire, though there are several MSS. that do not always
agree. A fair copy of it, from a MS. in the library of St John's
College, Cambridge, is given side by side with the original Latin in
the edition already noticed. It is worth adding that Caxton printed
Trevisa's version, altering the spelling to suit that of his own time,
and giving several variations of reading.

Trevisa was also the author of some other works, of which the most
important is his translation into English, from the original Latin,
of _Bartholomæus de Proprietatibus Rerum_.

I am not aware of any important work in the Southern dialect later
than these translations by Trevisa. But in quite modern times, an
excellent example of it has appeared, viz. in the _Poems of Rural
Life, in the Dorset Dialect_, by William Barnes.



Though the Kentish dialect properly belongs to Southern English,
from its position to the south of the Thames, yet it shows certain
peculiarities which make it desirable to consider it apart from the

In Beda's _Ecclesiastical History_, Bk I, ch. 15, he says of the
Teutonic invaders: "Those who came over were of the three most
powerful nations of Germany--Saxons, Angles, and Jutes. From the Jutes
are descended the people of Kent, and of the Isle of Wight, and those
also in the province of the West-Saxons who are to this day called
Jutes, seated opposite to the Isle of Wight"; a remark which obviously
implies the southern part of Hampshire. This suggests that the speech
of Kent, from the very first, had peculiarities of its own. Dr Sweet,
in his _Second Anglo-Saxon Reader, Archaic and Dialectal_, gives five
very brief Kentish charters of the seventh and eighth centuries, but
the texts are in Latin, and only the names of persons and places
appear in Kentish forms. In the ninth century, however, there are
seven Kentish charters, of a fuller description, from the year 805 to
837. In one of these, dated 835, a few lines occur that may be quoted:

  Ic bidde and bebeode swælc monn se thæt min lond hebbe thæt he ælce
  gere agefe them higum æt Folcanstane l. ambra maltes, and vi. ambra
  gruta, and iii. wega spices and ceses, and cccc. hlafa, and an
  hrithr, and vi. scep.... Thæm higum et Cristes cirican of thæm londe
  et Cealflocan: thæt is thonne thritig ombra alath, and threo hund
  hlafa, theara bith fiftig hwitehlafa, an weg spices and ceses, an
  ald hrithr, feower wedras, an suin oththe sex wedras, sex gosfuglas,
  ten hennfuglas, thritig teapera, gif hit wintres deg sie, sester
  fulne huniges, sester fulne butran, sester fulne saltes.

That is to say:

  I ask and command, whosoever may have my land, that he every year
  give to the domestics at Folkestone fifty measures of malt, and six
  measures of meal, and three weys [_heavy weights_] of bacon and
  cheese, and four hundred loaves, and one rother [_ox_], and six
  sheep.... To the domestics at Christ's church, from the land at
  Challock: that is, then, thirty vessels of ale, and three hundred
  loaves, of which fifty shall be white loaves, one wey of bacon and
  cheese, one old rother, four wethers, one swine or six wethers, six
  goose-fowls, ten hen-fowls, thirty tapers, if it be a day in winter,
  a jar full of honey, a jar full of butter, and a jar full of salt.

At pp. 152-175 of the same volume, Dr Sweet gives 1204 Kentish glosses
of a very early date. No. 268 is: "_Cardines_, hearran"; and in
several modern dialects, including Hampshire, the upright part of a
gate to which the hinges are fastened is called a _harr_.

Several years ago, M. Paul Mayer found five short sermons in a Kentish
dialect in MS. Laud 471, in the Bodleian Library, along with their
French originals. They are printed in Morris's _Old English
Miscellany_, and two of them will be found in _Specimens of Early
English_, Part I, p. 141. The former of these is for the Epiphany,
the text being taken from Matt. ii 1. The date is just before 1250.
I give an extract.

  The kinges hem wenten and hi seghen the sterre thet yede bifore hem,
  alwat hi kam over tho huse war ure loverd was; and alswo hi hedden
  i-fonden ure loverd, swo hin an-urede, and him offrede hire
  offrendes, gold, and stor, and mirre. Tho nicht efter thet aperede
  an ongel of hevene in here slepe ine metinge, and hem seide and het,
  thet hi ne solde ayen wende be herodes, ac be an other weye wende
  into hire londes.

That is:

  The kings went (them), and they saw the star that went before them
  until it came over the house where our Lord was; and as-soon-as they
  had found our Lord, so (they) honoured him, and offered him their
  offerings, gold, and frankincense, and myrrh. The night after that
  (there) appeared an angel from heaven in their sleep, in a dream,
  and said to-them and commanded, that they should not wend again
  near Herod, but by another way wend to their lands.

In the days of Edward II (1307-27) flourished William of Shoreham,
named from Shoreham (Kent), near Otford and Sevenoaks, who was
appointed vicar of Chart-Sutton in 1320. He translated the Psalter
into English prose, and wrote some religious poems, chiefly relating
to church-services, which were edited by T. Wright for the Percy
Society in 1849. His poem "On Baptism" is printed in _Specimens of
Early English_, Part II. I give an extract:

  In water ich wel the cristny her{1}
    As Gode him-self hyt dightë{2};
  For mide to wesschë{3} nis{4} nothynge
    That man cometh to so lightë{5}
        In londë{6};
  Nis non that habben hit ne may{7}
    That habbe hit wilë foundë{8}.

  This bethe{9} the wordës of cristning
    By thyse Englísschë costës{10}--
  "Ich{11} cristni the{12} ine the Vader{13} name
    And Sone and Holy Gostes"--
        And more,
  "Amen!" wane hit{14} is ised{15} thertoe,
    Confermeth thet ther-to-fore{16}.

    1: _I desire thee to christen here_
    2: _ordaine it_
    3: _to wash with_
    4: _is not_
    5: _easily_
    6: _in (the) land_
    7: _there is noe that may not have it_
    8: _that will try to have it_
    9: _these are_
   10: _coasts, regions_
   11: _I_
   12: _thee_
   13: _Father's_
   14: _when it_
   15: _said_
   16: _that which precedes_ }

In the year 1340, Dan Michel of Northgate (Kent) translated into
English a French treatise on Vices and Virtues, under the title _The
Ayenbite of Inwyt_, literally, "The Again-biting of In-wit," i.e.
Remorse of Conscience. This is the best specimen of the Kentish
dialect of the fourteenth century, and is remarkable for being much
more difficult to make out than other pieces of the same period. The
whole work was edited by Dr Morris for the Early English Text Society
in 1866. A sermon of the same date and in the same dialect, and
probably by the same author, is given in _Specimens of Early English_,
Part II. The sermon is followed by the Lord's Prayer, the Ave Maria,
and the "Credo" or Apostles' Creed, all in the same dialect; and I
here give the last of these, as being not difficult to follow:

  Ich leve ine God, Vader almighti, makere of hevene and of erthe.
  And ine Iesu Crist, His zone onlepi [_only son_], oure lhord, thet
  y-kend [_conceived_] is of the Holy Gost, y-bore of Marie mayde,
  y-pyned [_was crucified_, lit. _made to suffer_] onder Pouns Pilate,
  y-nayled a rode [_on a cross_], dyad, and be-bered; yede [_went_]
  doun to helle; thane thridde day aros vram the dyade; steay [_rose,
  ascended_] to hevenes; zit [_sitteth_] athe [_on the_] right half
  of God the Vader almighti; thannes to comene He is, to deme the
  quike and the dyade. Ich y-leve ine the Holy Gost; holy cherche
  generalliche; Mennesse of halyen [_communion of holy-ones_];
  Lesnesse of zennes [_remission of sins_]; of vlesse [_flesh, body_]
  arizinge; and lyf evrelestinde. Zuo by hyt [_so be it_].

A few remarks may well be made here on some of the peculiarities of
Southern English that appear here. The use of _v_ for _f_ (as in
_vader_, _vram_, _vlesshe_), and of _z_ for _s_ (as in _zone_, _zit_,
_zennes_) are common to this day, especially in Somersetshire. The
spelling _lhord_ reminds us that many Anglo-Saxon words began with
_hl_, one of them being _hl{-a}fweard_, later _hl{-a}ford_, a lord;
and this _hl_ is a symbol denoting the so-called "whispered _l_,"
sounded much as if an aspirate were prefixed to the _l_, and still
common in Welsh, where it is denoted by _ll_, as in _llyn_, a lake.
In every case, modern English substitutes for it the ordinary _l_,
though _lh_ (= _hl_) was in use in 1340 in Southern. The prefix _y-_,
representing the extremely common A.S. (Anglo-Saxon) prefix _ge-_, was
kept up in Southern much longer than in the other dialects, but has
now disappeared; the form _y-clept_ being archaic. The plural suffix
_-en_, as in _haly-en_, holy ones, saints, is due to the fact that
Southern admitted the use of that suffix very freely, as in
_cherch-en_, churches, _sterr-en_, stars, etc.; whilst Northern
only admitted five such plurals, viz. _egh-en_, _ey-en_, eyes
(Shakespeare's _eyne_), _hos-en_, stockings, _ox-en_, _shoo-n_, shoes,
and _f{-a}-n_, foes; _ox-en_ being the sole survivor, since _shoon_
(as in _Hamlet_, IV iv 26) is archaic. The modern _child-r-en_,
_breth-r-en_, are really double plurals; Northern employed the more
original forms _childer_ and _brether_, both of which, and especially
the former, are still in dialectal use. _Evrelest-inde_ exhibits the
Southern _-inde_ for present participles.

But the word _zennes_, sins, exhibits a peculiarity that is almost
solely Kentish, and seldom found elsewhere, viz. the use of _e_ for
_i_. The explanation of this rests on an elementary lesson in Old
English phonology, which it will do the reader no harm to acquire.
The modern symbol _i_ (when denoting the _short_ sound, as in _pit_)
really does double duty. It sometimes represents the A.S. short _i_,
as in _it_ (A.S. _hit_), _sit_ (A.S. _sittan_), _bitten_ (A.S.
_b{)i}ten_), etc.; and sometimes the A.S. short _y_, as in _pyt_,
a pit. The sound of the A.S. short _i_ was much the same as in modern
English; but that of the short _y_ was different, as it denoted the
"mutated" form of short _u_ for which German has a special symbol,
viz. _ü_, the sound intended being that of the German _ü_ in
_schützen_, to protect. In the latter case, Kentish usually has the
vowel _e_, as in the modern Kentish _pet_, a pit, and in the surname
_Petman_ (at Margate), which means _pitman_; and as the A.S. for "sin"
was _synn_ (dat. _synne_), the Kentish form was _zenne_, since Middle
English substantives often represent the A.S. dative case. The Kentish
plural had the double form, _zennes_ and _zennen_, both of which occur
in the _Ayenbite_, as might have been expected.

The poet Gower, who completed what may be called the first edition of
his poem named the _Confessio Amantis_ (or Confession of a Lover) in
1390, was a Kentish man, and well acquainted with the Kentish dialect.
He took advantage of this to introduce, occasionally, Kentish forms
into his verse; apparently for the sake of securing a rime more
easily. See this discussed at p. ci of vol. II of Macaulay's edition
of Gower. I may illustrate this by noting that in _Conf. Amant._ i
1908, we find _pitt_ riming with _witt_, whereas in the same, v 4945,
_pet_ rimes with _let_.

We know that, in 1386, the poet Chaucer was elected a knight of
the shire for Kent, and in 1392-3 he was residing at Greenwich. He
evidently knew something of the Kentish dialect; and he took advantage
of the circumstance, precisely as Gower did, for varying his rimes.
The earliest example of this is in his _Book of the Duchess_, l. 438,
where he uses the Kentish _ken_ instead of _kin_ (A.S. _cynn_) in
order to secure a rime for _ten_. In the _Canterbury Tales_, E 1057,
he has _kesse_, to kiss (A.S. _cyssan_), to rime with _stedfastnesse_.
In the same, A 1318, he has _fulfille_, to fulfil (cf. A.S. _fyllan_,
to fill), to rime with _wille_; but in Troilus, iii 510, he changes it
to _fulfelle_, to rime with _telle_; with several other instances of a
like kind.

It is further remarkable that some Kentish forms seem to have
established themselves in standard English, as when we use _dent_ with
the sense of _dint_ (A.S. _dynt_). When we speak of _the left hand_,
the form _left_ is really Kentish, and occurs in the _Ayenbite of
Inwyt_; the Midland form is properly _lift_, which is common enough in
Middle English; see the _New English Dictionary_, s.v. _Left_, adj.
_Hemlock_ is certainly a Kentish form; cf. A.S. _hymlice_, and see the
_New English Dictionary_. So also is _kernel_ (A.S. _cyrnel_); _knell_
(A.S. _cnyllan_, verb); _merry_ (A.S. _myrge_, _myrige_); and perhaps
_stern_, adj. (A.S. _styrne_).

There are some excellent remarks upon the vocalism of the Kentish
dialect in Middle English by W. Heuser, in the German periodical
entitled _Anglia_, vol XVII pp. 73-90.




The Mercian district lies between the Northern and Southern, occupying
an irregular area which it is very difficult to define. On the east
coast it reached from the mouth of the Humber to that of the Thames.
On the western side it seems to have included a part of Lancashire,
and extended from the mouth of the Lune to the Bristol Channel,
exclusive of a great part of Wales.

There were two chief varieties of it which differed in many
particulars, viz. the East Midland and the West Midland. The East
Midland included, roughly speaking, the counties of Lincoln, Rutland,
Northampton, and Buckingham, and all the counties (between the Thames
and Humber) to the east of these, viz. Cambridge, Huntingdon, Bedford,
Hertford, Middlesex, Norfolk, Suffolk, and Essex. We must also
certainly include, if not Oxfordshire, at any rate the city of Oxford.
This is by far the most important group of counties, as it was
the East Midland that finally prevailed over the rest, and was at last
accepted as a standard, thus rising from the position of a dialect to
be the language of the Empire. The Midland prevailed over the Northern
and Southern dialects because it was intermediate between them, and so
helped to interpret between North and South; and the East Midland
prevailed over the Western because it contained within its area all
three of the chief literary centres, namely, Oxford, Cambridge, and
London. It follows from this that the Old Mercian dialect is of
greater interest than either the Northumbrian or Anglo-Saxon.

Unfortunately, the amount of extant Old Mercian, before the Conquest,
is not very large, and it is only of late years that the MSS.
containing it have been rightly understood. Practically, the study of
it dates only from 1885, when Dr Sweet published his _Oldest English

But there is more Mercian to be found than was at first suspected; and
it is desirable to consider this question.

An important discovery was that the language of the oldest Glossaries
seems to be Mercian. We have extant no less than four Glossaries in
MSS. of as early a date as the eighth century, named respectively, the
Epinal, Erfurt, Corpus, and Leyden Glossaries. The first is now at
Epinal, in France (in the department Vosges); the second, at Erfurt,
near Weimar, in Germany; the third, in Corpus Christi College,
Cambridge; and the fourth, at Leyden, in Holland. The Corpus MS. may
be taken as typical of the rest. It contains an enumeration of a
large number of difficult words, arranged, but imperfectly, in
alphabetical order; and after each of these is written its gloss
or interpretation. Thus the fifth folio begins as follows:

  Abminiculum . adiutorium.
  Abelena . haeselhnutu.
  Abiecit . proiecit.
  Absida . sacrarium.
  Abies . etspe.
  Ab ineunte ætate . infantia.

The chief interest of these Glossaries lies in the fact that a small
proportion of the hard words is explained, not in Latin, but in
Mercian English, of which there are two examples in the six glosses
here quoted. Thus Abelena, which is another spelling of Abellana or
Avellana, "a filbert," is explained as "haeselhnutu"; which is a
perfectly familiar word when reduced to its modern form of "hazel-nut."
And again, Abies, which usually means "a fir-tree," is here glossed by
"etspe." But this is certainly a false spelling, as we see by
comparing it with the following glosses in Epinal and Erfurt (Nos. 37,
1006):--"Abies. saeppae--sæpae"; and "Tremulus. aespae--espæ." This
shows that the scribe ought to have explained Abies by "saeppae,"
meaning the tree full of sap, called in French _sapin_; but he
confused it with another tree, the "trembling" tree, of which the
Old Mercian name was "espe" or "espæ," or "aespae," and he miswrote
_espe_ as _etspe_, inserting a needless _t_. This last tree is the
one which Chaucer called the _asp_ in l. 180 of his _Parliament of
Fowls_, but in modern times the adjectival suffix _-en_ (as in
_gold-en_, _wood-en_) has been tacked on to it, and it is now the

The interpretation of these ancient glosses requires very great care,
but they afford a considerable number of interesting results, and are
therefore valuable, especially as they give us spellings of the eighth
century, which are very scarce.

One of the oldest specimens of Old Mercian that affords intelligible
sentences is known as the "Lorica Prayer," because it occurs in the
same MS. (Ll. 1. 10 in the Cambridge University Library) as the
"Lorica Glosses," or the glosses which accompany a long Latin prayer,
really a charm, called "lorica" or "breast-plate," because it was
recited thrice a day to protect the person who used it from all
possible injury and accident. I give this Prayer as illustrating the
state of our language about A.D. 850.

  And the georne gebide gece and miltse fore alra his haligra
  gewyrhtum and ge-earningum and boenum be [hiwe]num, tha the _domino
  deo_ gelicedon from fruman middan-geardes; thonne gehereth he thec
  thorh hiora thingunge. Do thonne fiorthan sithe thin hleor thriga
  to iorthan, fore alle Godes cirican, and sing thas fers: _domini
  est salus, saluum fac populum tuum, domine, praetende misericordiam
  tuam_. Sing thonne _pater noster_. Gebide thonne fore alle
  geleaffulle menn _in mundo_. Thonne bistu thone deg dael-niomende
  thorh Dryhtnes gefe alra theara goda the ænig monn for his noman
  gedoeth, and thec alle soth-festæ fore thingiath _in caelo et in
  terra_. _Amen_.{1}

    {Footnote 1: I write _hiwenum_ in l. 2 in place of an illegible

That is:--

  And earnestly pray for-thyself for help and mercy by-reason-of the
  deeds and merits and prayers of all his saints on-behalf-of the
  [households] that have pleased the Lord God from the beginning of
  the world; then will He hear thee because-of their intercession.
  Bow-down then, at the fourth time, thy face thrice to the earth
  before all God's church, and sing these verses: The Lord is my
  salvation, save Thy people, O Lord: show forth Thy mercy. Sing then
  a pater-noster. Pray then for all believing men in the world. Then
  shalt thou be, on that day, a partaker, by God's grace, of all the
  good things that any man doth for His name, and all true-men will
  intercede for thee in heaven and in earth. Amen.

Another discovery was the assignment of a correct description to the
glosses found in a document known as the _Vespasian Psalter_; so
called because it is an early Latin Psalter, or book of Psalms,
contained in a Cotton MS. in the British Museum, marked with the
class-mark "Vespasian, A. 1." This Psalter is accompanied throughout
with glosses which were at first mistakenly thought to be in a
Northumbrian dialect, and were published as such by the Surtees
Society in 1843. They were next, in 1875, wrongly supposed to be
Kentish; but since they were printed by Sweet in 1885 it has been
shown that they are really Mercian. This set of glosses is very
important for the study of Old Mercian, because they are rather
extensive; they occupy 213 pages of the _Oldest English Texts_, and
are followed by 20 more pages of similar glosses to certain Latin
canticles and hymns that occur in the same MS.

There are also a few Charters extant in the Mercian dialect, but the
earliest contain little else than old forms of the names of persons
and places. There are, however, some later Charters, from 836 to 1058
in the Mercian dialect, which contain some boundaries of lands and
afford other information. Most of these relate to Worcestershire.

But the most interesting Mercian glosses are those to be found in
the Rushworth MS., which has already been mentioned as containing
Northumbrian glosses of the Latin Gospels of St Mark, St Luke, and St
John. For the Gospel of St Matthew was glossed by the scribe Farman,
who was a priest of Harewood, situate on the river Wharfe, in the West
Riding of Yorkshire; whose language, accordingly, was Mercian. In my
_Principles of English Etymology, First Series_ (second edition,
1892), p. 44, I gave a list of words selected from these glosses, in
order to show how much nearer they stand, as a rule, to modern English
than do the corresponding Anglo-Saxon forms. I here repeat this list,
as it is very instructive. The references, such as "5. 15," are to the
chapters and verses of St Matthew's Gospel, as printed in my edition
of _The Holy Gospels, in Anglo-Saxon, Northumbrian, and Old Mercian
Versions, synoptically arranged_ (Cambridge, 1871-87). The first
column below gives the Modern English form, the second the Old Mercian
form (with references), and the third the Anglo-Saxon or Wessex form:

    MODERN             OLD MERCIAN         WESSEX (A.S.)
     all                all, 5. 15          eall
     are                arun, 19. 28        (_not used_)
     betwixt            betwix, 27. 56      betweox
     cheek              c{-e}ke, 5. 39      c{-e}ace
 5   cold               cald, 10. 42        ceald
     eke                {-e}k, 5. 39        {-e}ac
     eleven             enlefan, 28. 16     endlufon
     eye                {-e}ge, 5. 29       {-e}age
     falleth            falleth, 10. 29     fealleth
10   fell, _pt.t.pl._   fellun, 7. 25       f{-e}ollon
     -fold              -fald, 19. 29       -feald
       (_in_ ten-fold)
     gall, _sb._        galla, 27. 34       gealla
     half, _sb._        half, 20. 23        healf
     halt, _adj._       halt, 11. 5         healt
15   heard, _pt.t.s._   (ge)h{-e}rde, 2. 3  (ge)h{-i}erde
     lie                l{-i}gan, 5. 11     l{-e}ogan
       (_tell lies_)
     light, _sb._       l{-i}ht, 5. 16      l{-e}oht
     light, _adj._      liht, 11. 30        leoht
     narrow             naru, 7. 14         nearu
20   old                áld, 9. 16          eald
     sheep              sc{-e}p, 25. 32     sc{-e}ap
     shoes              sc{-o}as, 10. 10    sc{-e}os, sc{-y}
     silver             sylfur, 10. 9       seolfor
     slept, _pt.t.pl._  sleptun, 13. 25     sl{-e}pon
25   sold, _pp._        sald, 10. 19        seald
     spit, _vb._        spittan, 27. 30     sp{-æ}tan
     wall               wall, 21. 33        weall
     yard (_rod_)       ierd, 10. 10        gyrd
     yare (_ready_)     iara, 22. 4         gearo
30   yoke               ioc, 11. 29         geoc
     youth              iuguth, 19. 20      geoguth

In l.5, the scribe Farman miswrote _caldas_ as _galdas_, in Matt.
x 42; but it is a mere mistake. In l. 20, the accent over the _a_ in
_áld_ is marked in the MS., though the vowel was not originally long.

Even a glance at this comparative table reveals a peculiarity of the
Wessex dialect which properly belongs neither to Mercian nor to Modern
English, viz. the use of the diphthong _ea_ (in which each vowel was
pronounced separately) instead of simple _a_, before the sounds
denoted by _l_, _r_, _h_, especially when another consonant follows.
We find accordingly such Wessex forms as _eall_, _ceald_, _fealleth_,
_-feald_, _gealla_, _healf_, _healt_, _nearu_, _eald_, _seald_,
_weall_, _gearo_, where the Old Mercian has simply _all_, _cald_,
_falleth_, _-fald_, _galla_, _half_, _halt_, _naru_, _ald_, _sald_,
_wall_, _iara_. Similarly, Wessex has the diphthongs _{-e}a_, _{-e}o_,
in which the former element is long, where the Old Mercian has simply
_{-e}_ or _{-i}_. We find accordingly the Wessex _c{-e}ace_, _{-e}ac_,
_{-e}age_, _sc{-e}ap_, as against the Mercian _c{-e}ke_, _{-e}k_,
_{-e}ge_, _sc{-e}p_; and the Wessex _l{-e}ogan_, _l{-e}oht_, as
against the Mercian _l{-i}gan_, _l{-i}ht_.

I have now mentioned nearly all the examples of Old Mercian to be
found before the Conquest. After that event it was still the Southern
dialect that prevailed, and there is scarcely any Mercian (or Midland)
to be found except in the Laud MS. of the _Anglo-Saxon Chronicle_,
which was written at Peterborough. See the extract, describing the
miserable state of England during the reign of Stephen, in _Specimens
of Early English_, Part I.

It was about the year 1200 that the remarkable work appeared that is
known by the name of _The Ormulum_, written in the North-East Midland
of Lincolnshire, which is the first clear example of the form which
our literary language was destined to assume. It is an extremely
long and dreary poem of about 10,000 long lines, written in a sadly
monotonous unrimed metre; and it contains an introduction, paraphrases
relating to the gospels read in the church during the year, and
homilies upon the same. It was named _Ormulum_ by the author after his
own name, which was Orm; and the sole existing MS. is probably in the
handwriting of Orm himself, who employed a phonetic spelling of his
own invention which he strongly recommends. Owing to this circumstance
and to the fact that his very regular metre leaves no doubt as to
his grammatical forms, this otherwise uninviting poem has a high
philological value. In my book entitled _The Chaucer Canon_, published
at Oxford in 1900, I quote 78 long lines from the _Ormulum_, reduced
to a simpler system of spelling, at pp. 9-14; and, at pp. 15-18,
I give an analysis of the suffixes employed by Orm to mark grammatical
inflexions. At pp. 30-41, I give an analysis of similar inflexions as
employed by Chaucer, who likewise employed the East Midland dialect,
but with such slight modifications of Orm's language as were due to
his living in London instead of Lincolnshire, and to the fact that
he wrote more than 150 years later. The agreement, as to grammatical
usages, of these two authors is extremely close, allowing for lapse
of time; and the comparison between them gives most indubitable and
valuable results. There is no better way of learning Chaucer's

As East Midland was spread over a wide area, there are, as might be
expected, some varieties of it. The dialects of Lincolnshire and of
Norfolk were not quite the same, and both differed somewhat from that
of Essex and Middlesex; but the general characteristics of all three
sub-dialects are very much alike. As time went on, the speech of the
students of Oxford and Cambridge was closely assimilated to that of
the court as held in London; and this "educated" type was naturally
that to which Caxton and the great writers of the sixteenth century
endeavoured to conform.

We have one ancient specimen of the London dialect which is
eminently authentic and valuable, and has the additional advantage of
being exactly dated. This is the document known as "The only English
Proclamation of Henry III," issued on Oct. 18, 1258. Its intention was
to confirm to the people the "Provisions of Oxford," a charter of
rights that had been wrested from the king, from which we may conclude
that the Proclamation was issued by Henry rather by compulsion than by
his own free will. There is a note at the end which tells us that a
copy was sent to every shire in England and to Ireland. If every copy
had been preserved, we should have a plentiful supply. As it is, only
two copies have survived. One is the copy which found its way to
Oxford; and the other is the original from which the copies were made,
which has been carefully preserved for six centuries and a half in the
Public Record Office in London. I here give the contents of the
original, substituting _y_ (at the beginning of a word) or _gh_
(elsewhere) for the symbol _{g}_, and _th_ for the symbol _þ_, and
_v_ for _u_ when between two vowels.

  ¶ Henri, thurgh Godes fultume king on Engleneloande, Lhoaverd on
  Yrloande, Duk on Norm(andi), on Aquitaine, and Eorl on Aniow, send
  igretinge to alle hise holde ilærde and ileawede on Huntendoneschire:
  thæt witen ye wel alle, thæt we willen and unnen thæt, thæt ure
  rædesmen alle, other the moare dæl of heom thæt beoth ichosen thurgh
  us and thurgh thæt loandes folk on ure kuneriche, habbeth idon and
  schullen don in the worthnesse of Gode and on ure treowthe, for the
  freme of the loande, thurgh the besighte of than to-foren iseide
  redesmen, beo stedefaest and ilestinde in alle thinge, abuten ænde.

  And we hoaten alle ure treowe, in the treowthe thæt heo us ogen,
  thæt heo stedefæstliche healden, and swerien to healden and to
  werien, tho isetnesses thæt beon imakede and beon to makien, thurgh
  than to-foren iseide rædesmen, other thurgh the moare dæl of hem,
  alswo also hit is biforen iseid; And thæt æhc other helpe thæt for
  to done bi than ilche othe, ayenes alle men, right for to done and
  to foangen. And noan ne nime of loande ne of eghte, wherthurgh this
  besighte mughe beon ilet other iwersed on onie wise.

  And yif oni other onie cumen her onyenes, we willen and hoaten thæt
  alle ure treowe heom healden deadliche ifoan. And for thæt we willen
  thæt this beo stedefæst and lestinde, we senden yew this writ open,
  iseined with ure seel, to halden a-manges yew me hord.

  Witnesse us selven æt Lundene, thane eghtetenthe day on the monthe
  of Octobre, in the two and fowertighthe yeare of ure cruninge.

  And this wes idon ætforen ure isworene redesmen, Boneface
  archebischop on Kanterburi, Walter of Cantelow, bischop on
  Wirechestre, Simon of Muntfort, eorl on Leirchestre, Richard of
  Clare, eorl on Glowchestre and on Hurtforde, Roger Bigod, eorl on
  Northfolke and marescal on Engleneloande, Perres of Sauveye, Willelm
  of Fort, eorl on Aubemarle, Iohan of Pleisseiz, eorl on Warewike,
  Iohan Geffreës sune, Perres of Muntfort, Richard of Grey, Roger of
  Mortemer, James of Aldithel; and ætforen othre inoghe.

  ¶ And al on tho ilche worden is isend in-to ævrihce othre shcire
  over al thære kuneriche on Engleneloande, and ek in-tel Irelonde.

This document presents at first sight many unfamiliar forms, but
really differs from Modern English mainly in the spelling, which of
course represents the pronunciation of that period. The grammar is
perfectly intelligible, and this is the surest mark of similarity of
language; we may, however, note the use of _send_ as a contraction of
_sendeth_, and of _oni_ for "any man" in the singular, while _onie_,
being plural, represents "any men."

The other chief variations are in the vocabulary or word-list, due to
the fact that this Proclamation is older than the reigns of the first
three Edwards, which was the period when so many words of Anglo-Norman
origin entered our language, displacing many words of native origin
that thus became obsolete; though some were exchanged for other
_native_ words. We may notice, for example, _fultume_, "assistance";
_holde_, "faithful"; _ilærde and ileawede_, "learned and unlearned";
_unnen_, "grant"; _rædesmen_, "councillors"; _kuneriche_, "kingdom";
and so on. I subjoin a closely literal translation, retaining awkward

  ¶ Henry, through God's assistance, king in England, Lord in Ireland,
  Duke in Normandy, in Aquitaine, and Earl in Anjou, sendeth greeting
  to all his faithful, learned and unlearned, in Huntingdonshire; that
  wit ye well all, that we will and grant that which our councillors
  all, or the more deal (_part_) of them, that be chosen through us
  and through the land's folk in our kingdom, have done and shall do
  in the worship of God and in our truth, for the benefit of the land,
  through the provision of the beforesaid councillors, be steadfast
  and lasting in all things without end. And we command all our
  true-men, in the truth that they us owe, that they steadfastly hold,
  and swear to hold and to defend, the statutes that be made and be to
  make, through the aforesaid councillors, or through the more deal of
  them, even as it is before said; and that each help other that for
  to do, by the same oath, against all men, right for to do and to
  receive. And (let) none take of land nor of property, wherethrough
  this provision may be let or worsened in any wise. And if any-man or
  any-men come here-against, we will and command that all our true-men
  hold them (as) deadly foes. And for that we will that thi bes
  steadfast and lasting, we send you this writ open, signed with our
  seal, to hold amongst you in hoard. Witness us-selves at London, the
  eighteenth day in the month of October, in the two and fortieth year
  of our crowning. And this was done before our sworen councillors,
  Boneface, archbishop of Canterbury, Walter of Cantelow, bishop of
  Worcester, Simon of Muntfort, earl of Leicester, ... and before
  others enough.

  ¶ And all in the same words is sent into every other shire over all
  the kingdom in England, and eke into Ireland.

In the year 1303, Robert Manning, of Bourn in Lincolnshire, translated
a French poem entitled _Manuel des Pechiez_ (Manual of Sins) into very
fair East Midland verse, giving to his translation the title of
_Handling Synne_. Many of the verses are easy and smooth, and the poem
clearly shows us that the East Midland dialect was by this time at
least the equal of the others, and that the language was good enough
to be largely permanent. When we read such lines as:

  Than seyd echone that sate and stode,
  Here comth Pers, that never dyd gode--

we have merely to modernise the spelling, and we at once have:

  Then said each one that sat and stood,
  Here cometh Pierce, that never did good,

These are lines that could be written now.

An extract from Manning's _Handlyng Synne_ is given in _Specimens of
Early English_, Part II, most of which can be read with ease. The
obsolete words are not very numerous, and we meet now and then with
half a dozen consecutive lines that would puzzle no one. It is
needless to pursue the history of this dialect further. It had, by
this time, become almost the standard language, differing from Modern
English chiefly in date, and consequently in pronunciation. We pass
on from Manning to Chaucer, from Chaucer to Lydgate and Caxton, and
from Caxton to Lord Surrey and Sackville and Spenser, without any real
change in the actual dialect employed, but only in the form of it.


We have seen that there are two divisions of the Mercian dialect, into
East and West Midland.

The West Midland does not greatly differ from the East Midland, but it
approaches more nearly, in some respects, to the Northumbrian. The
greatest distinction seems to be in the present and past participles
of verbs. In the West Midland, the present participle frequently ends
in _-and_, as in Northumbrian, especially in the Northern part of the
Midland area. The East Midland usually employs _-ende_ or _-inge_
instead. In the West Midland, the prefix _i-_ or _y-_ is seldom used
for the past participle, whilst the East Midland admits it more
freely. In the third person singular of the present tense, the West
Midland favours the Northern suffix _-es_ or _-is_; whilst the East
Midland favours the Southern suffix _-eth_. The suffix _-us_ appears
to be altogether peculiar to West Midland, in which it occurs
occasionally; and the same is true of _-ud_ for _-ed_ in the
preterite of a weak verb.

There is a rather early West Midland _Prose Psalter_, belonging to
the former half of the fourteenth century, which was edited for the
Early English Text Society by Dr Karl Bulbring in 1891.

The curious poem called _William of Palerne_ (Palermo) or _William
and the Werwolf_, written in alliterative verse about 1350-60, and
edited by me for the E.E.T.S. in 1867, seems to be in a form of West
Midland, and has been claimed for Shropshire; nothing is known as to
its author.

The very remarkable poem called _The Pearl_, and three _Alliterative
Poems_ by the same author, were first edited by Dr Morris for the
E.E.T.S. in 1864; with a preface in which the peculiarities of
the dialect were discussed. Dr Morris showed that the grammatical
forms are uniform and consistent throughout, and may be safely
characterised as being West Midland. Moreover, they are frequently
very like Northumbrian, and must belong to the Northern area of the
West Midland dialect. "Much," says Dr Morris, "may be said in favour
of their Lancashire origin."

The MS. which contains the above poems also contains the excellent
alliterative romance-poem named _Sir Gawayne and the Green Knight_,
evidently written by the same author; so that this poem also may be
considered as a specimen of West Midland. For further particulars,
see the "Grammatical Details" given in Dr Morris's preface to _The
Pearl_, etc., pp. xxviii-xl. _Sir Gawayne_ was likewise edited by
Morris in 1864.

It would not be easy to trace the history of this dialect at a later
date, and the task is hardly necessary. It was soon superseded in
literary use by the East Midland, with which it had much in common.



There is a widely prevalent notion that the speakers of English
Dialects employ none but native words; and it is not uncommon for
writers who have more regard for picturesque effect than for accuracy
to enlarge upon this theme, and to praise the dialects at the expense
of the literary language. Of course there is a certain amount of truth
in this, but it would be better to look into the matter a little more

A very little reflection will show that dialect-speakers have always
been in contact with some at least of those who employ words that
belong rather, or once belonged, to foreign nations. Even shopkeepers
are familiar with such words as _beef_, _mutton_, _broccoli_, _soda_,
_cork_, _sherry_, _brandy_, _tea_, _coffee_, _sugar_, _sago_, and many
more such words that are now quite familiar to every one. Yet _beef_
and _mutton_ are Norman; _broccoli_ and _soda_ are Italian; _cork_
and _sherry_ are Spanish; _brandy_ is Dutch; _tea_ is Chinese;
_coffee_ is Arabic; _sugar_ is of Sanskrit origin; and _sago_ is
Malay. It must be evident that many similar words, having reference
to very various useful things, have long ago drifted into the dialects
from the literary language. Hence the purity of the dialects from
contamination with foreign influences is merely comparative, not

Our modern language abounds with words borrowed from many foreign
tongues; but a large number of them have come to us since 1500. Before
that date the chief languages from which it was possible for us to
borrow words were British or Gaelic, Irish, Latin, Greek (invariably
through the medium of Latin), Hebrew (in a small degree, through
the medium of Latin), Arabic (very slightly, and indirectly),
Scandinavian, and French. A few words as to most of these are

It is not long since a great parade was made of our borrowings from
"Celtic"; it was very easy to give a wild guess that an obscure word
was "Celtic"; and the hardihood of the guesser was often made to take
the place of evidence. The fact is that there is no such language as
"Celtic"; it is the name of a group of languages, including "British"
or Welsh, Cornish, Breton, Manx, Gaelic, and Irish; and it is now
incumbent on the etymologist to cite the exact forms in one or more of
these on which he relies, so as to adduce some semblance of proof. The
result has been an extraordinary shrinkage in the number of alleged
Celtic words. The number, in fact, is extremely small, except in
special cases. Thus we may expect to find a few Welsh words in the
dialects of Cheshire, Shropshire, or Herefordshire, on the Welsh
border; and a certain proportion of Gaelic words in Lowland Scotch;
though we have no reliable lists of these, and it is remarkable that
such words have usually been borrowed at no very early date, and
sometimes quite recently. The legacy of words bequeathed to us by the
ancient Britons is surprisingly small; indeed, it is very difficult
to point to many clear cases. The question is considered in my
_Principles of English Etymology, Series I_, pp. 443-452, to which I
may refer the reader; and a list of words of (probably) Celtic origin
is given in my larger _Etymological Dictionary_, ed. 1910, p. 765. It
is also explained, in my _Primer of English Etymology_ that, in the
fifth century, the time of Hengist's invasion, "the common language
of the more educated classes among the British was Latin, which was
in use as a literary language and as the language of the British
Christian Church. Hence, the Low German tribes [of invaders] found
no great necessity for learning ancient British; and this explains
the fact, which would otherwise be extraordinary, that modern English
contains but a very small Celtic element." Of the Celts that remained
within the English pale, it is certain that, in a very short time,
they accepted the necessity of learning Anglian or Saxon, and lost
their previous language altogether. Hence, in many dialects, as
for example, in the East Midland district, the amount of words of
"British" origin is practically _nil_. For further remarks on this
subject, see Chapter V of _Anglo-Saxon Britain_, by Grant Allen,
London, n.d.

I here give a tentative list of some Celtic words found in dialects.
Their etymologies are discussed in my _Etymological Dictionary_
(1910), as they are also found in literary use; and the words are
fully explained in the _English Dialect Dictionary_, which gives
all their senses, and enumerates the counties in which they are found.
It is doubtless imperfect, as I give only words that are mostly well
known, and can be found, indeed, in the _New English Dictionary_.
I give only one sense of each, and mark it as N., M., or S. (Northern,
Midland, or Southern), as the case may be. The symbol "gen." means
"in general use"; and "Sc." means Lowland Scotch.

_Art_, or _airt_, Sc., a direction of the wind; _banshee_, Irish,
a female spirit who warns families of a death; _beltane_, N., the
first of May; _bin_, M., a receptacle; _boggart_, _bogle_, N., M.,
a hobgoblin; _bragget_, N., M., a drink made of honey and ale; _brat_,
N., M., a cloth, clout; _brock_, gen., a badger; _bug_, N., a bogy;
_bugaboo_, N., M., a hobgoblin; _capercailyie_, Sc., a bird;
_cateran_, Sc., a Highland robber; _char_, N., a fish; _clachan_, Sc.,
a hamlet; _clan_, N., M., a class, set of people; _claymore_, Sc.,
a two-handed sword; _colleen_, Irish, a young girl; _combe_, gen.,
the head of a valley; _coracle_, M., a wicker boat; _coronach_, Sc.,
a dirge; _corrie_, Sc., a circular hollow in a hill-side; _cosher_,
Irish, a feast; _crag_, _craig_, N., a rock; _crowd_, N., S., a
fiddle; _dulse_, N., an edible sea-weed; _dun_, gen., brown, greyish;
_duniwassal_, Sc., a gentleman of secondary rank; _fillibeg_, Sc.,
a short kilt; _flummery_, Sc., M., oatmeal boiled in water;
_gallowglass_, Sc., Irish, an armed foot-soldier; _galore_, gen.,
in abundance; _gillie_, Sc., a man-servant; _gull_, a name of various
birds; _hubbub_, _hubbaboo_, Irish, a confused clamour; _inch_, Sc.,
Irish, a small island; _ingle_, N., M., fire, fire-place; _kelpie_,
Sc., a water-spirit; _kibe_, gen., a chilblain; _linn_, N., a pool;
_loch_, N., _lough_, Irish, a lake; _metheglin_, M., S., beer made
from honey; _omadhaun_, Irish, a simpleton; _pose_, gen. (but
perhaps obsolete), a catarrh; _rapparee_, Sc., Irish, a vagabond;
_shillelagh_, Irish, a cudgel; _skain_, _skean_, Sc., Irish, a knife,
dagger; _sowens_, _sowans_, Sc., a dish made from oatmeal-husks
steeped in water (from Gael, _sùghan_, the juice of sowens);
_spalpeen_, Irish, a rascal; _spleuchan_, Sc., Irish, a pouch,
a purse; _strath_, N., a valley; _strathspey_, Sc., a dance,
named from the valley of the river Spey; _tocher_, N., a dowry;
_usquebaugh_, Sc., Irish, whiskey; _wheal_, Cornish, a mine.

Latin is a language from which English has borrowed words in
every century since the year 600. In my _Principles of English
Etymology, First Series_, Chap. XXI, I give a list of Latin words
imported into English before the Norman Conquest. Several of these
must be familiar in our dialects; we can hardly suppose that country
people do not know the meaning of ark, beet, box, candle, chalk,
cheese, cook, coulter, cup, fennel, fever, font, fork, inch, kettle,
kiln, kitchen, and the like. Indeed, _ark_ is quite a favourite
word in the North for a large wooden chest, used for many purposes;
and Kersey explains it as "a country word for a large chest to put
fruit or corn in." _Candle_ is so common that it is frequently
reduced to _cannel_; and it has given its name to "cannel coal."
Every countryman is expected to be able to distinguish "between chalk
and cheese." _Coulter_ appears in ten dialect forms, and one of
the most familiar agricultural implements is a pitch-_fork_. The
influence of Latin requires no further illustration.

I also give a list of early words of Greek origin; some of which are
likewise in familiar use. I may instance alms, angel, bishop, butter,
capon, chest, church, clerk, copper, devil, dish, hemp, imp, martyr,
paper (ultimately of Egyptian origin), plaster, plum, priest, rose,
sack, school, silk, treacle, trout. Of course the poor old woman who
says she is "a martyr to tooth-ache" is quite unconscious that she
is talking Greek. Probably she is not without some smattering of
Persian, and knows the sense of lilac, myrtle, orange, peach, and
rice; of Sanskrit, whence pepper and sugar-candy; of Arabic, whence
coffee, cotton, jar, mattress, senna, and sofa; and she will know
enough Hebrew, partly from her Bible, to be quite familiar with a
large number of biblical names, such as Adam and Abraham and Isaac,
and very many more, not forgetting the very common John, Joseph,
Matthew, and Thomas, and the still more familiar Jack and Jockey;
and even with a few words of Hebrew origin, such as alleluia, balm,
bedlam, camel, cider, and sabbath. The discovery of the New World
has further familiarised us all with chocolate and tomato, which are
Mexican; and with potato, which is probably old Caribbean. These facts
have to be borne in mind when it is too rashly laid down that words in
English dialects are of English origin.

Foreign words of this kind are, however, not very numerous, and can
easily be allowed for. And, as has been said, our vocabulary admits
also of a certain amount of Celtic. It remains to consider what other
sources have helped to form our dialects. The two most prolific in
this respect are Scandinavian and French, which require careful

It is notorious that the Northern dialect admits Scandinavian words
freely; and the same is true, to a lesser degree, of East Midland.
They are rare in Southern, and in the Southern part of West Midland.
The constant invasions of the Danes, and the subjection of England
under the rule of three Danish kings, Canute and his two successors,
have very materially increased our vocabulary; and it is remarkable
that they have perhaps done more for our dialects than for the
standard language. The ascendancy of Danish rule was in the eleventh
century; but (with a few exceptions) it was long before words which
must really have been introduced at that time began to appear in our
literature. They must certainly have been looked upon, at the first,
as being rustic or dialectal. I have nowhere seen it remarked, and I
therefore call attention to the fact, that a certain note of rustic
origin still clings to many words of this class; and I would instance
such as these: bawl, bloated, blunder, bungle, clog, clown, clumsy, to
cow, to craze, dowdy, dregs, dump, and many more of a like character.
I do not say that such words cannot be employed in serious literature;
but they require skillful handling.

For further information, see the chapter on "The Scandinavian Element
in English," in my _Principles of English Etymology, Series I_.

With regard to dialectal Scandinavian, see the List of English Words,
as compared with Icelandic, in my Appendix to Cleasby and Vigfusson's
_Icelandic Dictionary_. In this long list, filling 80 columns, the
dialectal words are marked with a dagger {+*}. But the list of these
is by no means exhaustive, and it will require a careful search
through the pages of the _English Dialect Dictionary_ to do justice
to the wealth of this Old Norse element. There is an excellent article
on this subject by Arnold Wall, entitled "A Contribution towards the
Study of the Scandinavian element in the English Dialects," printed
in the German periodical entitled _Anglia, Neue Folge_, Band VIII,

I now give a list, a mere selection, of some of the more remarkable
words of Scandinavian origin that are known to our dialects. For their
various uses and localities, see the _English Dialect Dictionary_; and
for their etymologies, see my Index to Cleasby and Vigfusson. Many of
these words are well approved and forcible, and may perhaps be
employed hereafter to reinforce our literary language.

_Addle_, to earn; _and_ (in Barbour, _aynd_) sb., breath; _arder_,
a ploughing; _arr_, a scar; _arval_, a funeral repast; _aund_, fated,
destined; _bain_, ready, convenient; _bairns' lakings_, children's
playthings; _beck_, a stream; _big_, to build; _bigg_, barley; _bing_,
a heap; _birr_, impetus; _blaeberry_, a bilberry; _blather_,
_blether_, empty noisy talk; _bouk_, the trunk of the body; _boun_,
ready; _braid_, to resemble, to take after; _brandreth_, an iron
framework over a fire; _brant_, steep; _bro_, a foot-bridge with a
single rail; _bule_, _bool_, the curved handle of a bucket; _busk_,
to prepare oneself, dress; _caller_, fresh, said of fish, etc.;
_carle_, a rustic, peasant; _carr_, moist ground; _cleck_, to hatch
(as chickens); _cleg_, a horse-fly; _coup_, to exchange, to barter;
_dag_, dew; _daggle_, to trail in the wet; _dowf_, dull, heavy,
stupid; _dump_, a deep pool.

_Elding_, _eliding_, fuel; _ettle_, to intend, aim at; _feal_, to
hide; _fell_, a hill; _fey_, doomed, fated to die; _flake_, a hurdle;
_force_, a water-fall; _gab_, idle talk; _gain_, adj., convenient,
suitable; _gait_, a hog; _gar_, to cause, to make; _garn_, yarn;
_garth_, a field, a yard; _gate_, a way, street; _ged_, a pike;
_gilder_, a snare, a fishing-line; _gilt_, a young sow; _gimmer_,
a young ewe; _gloppen_, to scare, terrify; _glare_, to stare, to glow;
_goam_, _gaum_, to stare idly, to gape, whence _gomeril_, a blockhead;
_gowk_, a cuckoo, a clown; _gowlan_, _gollan_, a marigold; _gowpen_,
a double handful; _gradely_, respectable; _graithe_, to prepare;
_grice_, a young pig; _haaf_, the open sea; _haver_, oats; _how_,
a hillock, mound; _immer-goose_, _ember-goose_, the great Northern
diver; _ing_, a lowlying meadow; _intake_, a newly enclosed or
reclaimed portion of land; _keld_, a spring of water; _kenning_,
knowledge, experience; _kilp_, _kelp_, the iron hook in a chimney on
which pots are hung; _kip_, to catch fish in a particular way;
_kittle_, to tickle; _lain_, _lane_, to conceal; _lair_, a muddy
place, a quick-sand; _lait_, to seek; _lake_, to play; _lathe_,
a barn; _lax_, a salmon; _lea_, a scythe; _leister_, a fish-spear
with prongs and barbs; _lift_, the air, sky; _lig_, to lie down;
_lispund_, a variable weight; _lit_, to dye; _loon_, the Northern
diver; _lowe_, a flame, a blaze.

_Mense_, respect, reverence, decency, sense; _mickle_, great; _mirk_,
dark; _morkin_, a dead sheep; _muck_, dirt; _mug_, fog, mist, whence
_muggy_, misty, close, dull; _neif_, _neive_, the fist; _ouse_,
_ouze_, to empty out liquid, to bale out a boat; _paddock_, a frog,
a toad; _quey_, a young heifer; _rae_, a sailyard; _rag_, hoarfrost,
rime; _raise_, a cairn, a tumulus; _ram_, _rammish_, rank, rancid;
_rip_, a basket; _risp_, to scratch; _rit_, to scratch slightly, to
score; _rawk_, _roke_, a mist; _roo_, to pluck off the wool of sheep
instead of shearing them; _roose_, to praise; _roost_, _roust_,
a strong sea-current, a race.

_Sark_, a shirt; _scarf_, a cormorant; _scopperil_, a teetotum;
_score_, a gangway down to the sea-shore; _screes_, rough stones on a
steep mountain-side, really for _screethes_ (the _th_ being omitted
as in _clothes_), from Old Norse _skriða_, a land-slip on a hill-side;
_scut_, a rabbit's tail; _seave_, a rush; _sike_, a small rill,
gutter; _sile_, a young herring; _skeel_, a wooden pail; _skep_,
a basket, a measure; _skift_, to shift, remove, flit; _skrike_, to
shriek; _slocken_, to slake, quench; _slop_, a loose outer garment;
_snag_, a projecting end, a stump of a tree; _soa_, a large round tub;
_spae_, to foretell, to prophesy; _spean_, a teat, (as a verb) to
wean; _spelk_, a splinter, thin piece of wood; _steg_, a gander;
_storken_, to congeal; _swale_, a shady place; _tang_, the prong of a
fork, a tongue of land; _tarn_, a mountain pool; _tath_, manure,
_tathe_, to manure; _ted_, to spread hay; _theak_, to thatch; _thoft_,
a cross-bench in a boat; _thrave_, twenty-four sheaves, or a certain
measure of corn; _tit_, a wren; _titling_, a sparrow; _toft_, a
homestead, an old enclosure, low hill; _udal_, a particular tenure of
land; _ug_, to loathe; _wadmel_, a species of coarse cloth; _wake_,
a portion of open water in a frozen lake or stream; _wale_, to choose;
_wase_, a wisp or small bundle of hay or straw; _whauve_, to cover
over, especially with a dish turned upside down; _wick_, a creek, bay;
_wick_, a corner, angle.

Another source of foreign supply to the vocabulary of the dialects is
French; a circumstance which seems hitherto to have been almost
entirely ignored. The opinion has, I think, been expressed more than
once, that dialects are almost, if not altogether, free from French
influence. Some, however, have called attention, perhaps too much
attention, to the French words found in Lowland Scotch; and it is
common to adduce always the same set of examples, such as _ashet_,
a dish (F. _assiette_, a trencher, plate: Cotgrave), _gigot_, a leg
of mutton, and _petticoat-tails_, certain cakes baked with butter
(ingeniously altered from _petits gastels_, old form of _petits
gâteaux_), by way of illustration. Indeed, a whole book has been
written on this subject; see _A Critical Enquiry into the Scottish
Language_, by Francisque-Michel, 4to, Edinburgh, 1882. But the
importance of the borrowings, chiefly in Scotland, from Parisian
French, has been much exaggerated, as in the work just mentioned;
and a far more important source has been ignored, viz. Anglo-French,
which I here propose to consider.

By Anglo-French is meant the highly important form of French which is
largely peculiar to England, and is of the highest value to the
philologist. The earliest forms of it were Norman, but it was
afterwards supplemented by words borrowed from other French dialects,
such as those of Anjou and Poitou, as well as from the Central French
of Paris. It was thus developed in a way of its own, and must always
be considered, in preference to Old Continental French, when English
etymologies are in question. It is true that it came to an end about
1400, when it ceased to be spoken; but at an earlier date it was alive
and vigorous, and coined its own peculiar forms. A very simple example
is our word _duty_, which certainly was not borrowed from the Old
French _devoir_, but from the Anglo-French _duetee_, a word familiar
in Old London, but absolutely unknown to every form of continental

The point which I have here to insist upon is that not only does our
literary language abound with Anglo-French words, but that they are
also common enough in our dialects; a point which, as far as I know,
is almost invariably overlooked. Neither have our dialects escaped the
influence of the Central French of Paris, and it would have been
strange if they had; for the number of French words in English is
really very large. It is not always possible to discriminate between
the Old French of France and of England, and I shall here consider
both sources together, though the Old Norman words can often be easily
discerned by any one who is familiar with the Norman peculiarities.
Of such peculiarities I will instance three, by way of example. Thus
Anglo-French often employs _ei_ or _ey_ where Old French (i.e. of
the continent) has _oi_ or _oy_; and English has retained the old
pronunciations of _ch_ and _j_. Hence, whilst _convoy_ is borrowed
from French, _convey_ is Anglo-French. _Machine_ is French, because
the _ch_ is pronounced as _sh_; but _chine_, the backbone, is
Anglo-French. _Rouge_ is French, because of the peculiar pronunciation
of the final _ge_; but _rage_ is Anglo-French; and _jaundice_ is
Anglo-French, as it has the old _j_. See Chapters III-VI of my
_Principles of English Etymology, Second Series_.

A good example of a dialect word is _gantry_ or _gauntree_, a wooden
stand for barrels, known in varying forms in many dialects. It is
rightly derived, in the _E.D.D._, from _gantier_, which must have been
an A.F. (Anglo-French) form, though now only preserved in the Rouchi
dialect, spoken on the borders of France and Belgium, and nearly
allied to Norman; in fact, M. Hécart, the author of the _Dictionnaire_
_Rouchi-Français_, says he had heard the word in Normandy, and he
gives a quotation for it from Olivier Basselin, a poet who lived
in Normandy at the beginning of the fifteenth century. The Parisian
form is _chantier_, which Cotgrave explains as "a Gauntrey... for
hogs-heads to stand on." Here is a clear example of a word which is of
Norman, or A.F., origin; and there must be many more such of which the
A.F. form is lost. There is no greater literary disgrace to England
than the fact that there is no reasonable Dictionary in existence of
Anglo-French, though it contains hundreds of highly important legal
terms. It ought, in fact, to have been compiled before either the
_English Dialect Dictionary_ or the _New English Dictionary_, both
of which have suffered from the lack of it.

It would indeed be tedious to enumerate the vast number of French
words in our dialects. Many are literary words used in a peculiar
sense, often in one that has otherwise been long obsolete; such as
_able_, rich; _access_, an ague-fit; _according_, comparatively;
_to act_, to show off, be ridiculous; _afraid_, conj., for fear
that; _agreeable_, willing; _aim_, to intend; _aisle_, a central
thoroughfare in a shop, etc.; _alley_, the aisle of a church; _allow_,
to suppose; _anatomy_, a skeleton; _ancient_, an ensign, flag;
_anguish_, inflammation; _annoyance_, damage; _anointed_, notoriously
vicious; _apron_, the diaphragm of an animal; _apt_, sure;
_arbitrary_, impatient of restraint; _archangel_, dead nettle;
_argue_, to signify; _arrant_, downright; _auction_, an untidy place,
a crowd; _avise_ (for _advise_), to inform. It is needless to go
through the rest of the alphabet.

Moreover, dialect-speakers are quite capable of devising new forms
for themselves. It is sufficient to instance _abundation_, abundance;
_ablins_, possibly (made from _able_); _argle_, _argie-bargie_,
_argle-bargle_, _argufy_, all varieties of the verb _to argue_; and
so on.

The most interesting words are those that have survived from Middle
English or from Tudor English times. Examples are _aigre_, sour, tart,
which is Shakespeare's _eagre_, _Hamlet_, I, v 69; _ambry_, _aumbry_,
cupboard, spelt _almarie_ in _Piers the Plowman_, B XIV 246; _arain_,
a spider, spelt _yreyn_ in Wyclif's translation of Psalm XC 10, which,
after all, is less correct; _arles_, money paid on striking a bargain,
a highly interesting word, spelt _erles_ in the former half of the
thirteenth century; _arris_, the angular edge of a cut block of stone,
etc., from the O.F. _areste_, L. _arista_, which has been revived by
our Swiss mountain-climbers in the form _aréte_; _a-sew_, dry, said
of cows that give no milk (cf. F. _essuyer_, to dry); _assoilyie_,
to absolve, acquit, and _assith_, to compensate, both used by Sir
W. Scott; _astre_, _aistre_, a hearth, a Norman word found in 1292;
_aunsel_, a steelyard, of which the etymology is given in the
_E.D.D._; _aunter_, an adventure, from the A.F. _aventure_; _aver_,
a beast of burden, horse, used by Burns, from the A.F. _aveir_,
property, cattle; _averous_, A.F. _averous_, avaricious, in Wyclif's
translation of 1 Cor. vi 10.

Here is ample proof of the survival of Anglo-French in our dialects.
Indeed, their chief philological use consists in the great antiquity
of many of the terms, which often preserve Old English and Anglo-French
forms with much fidelity. The charge often brought against dialect
speakers of using "corrupt" forms is only occasionally and
exceptionally true. Much worse "corruptions" have been made by
antiquaries, in order to suit their false etymologies.



With the ascendancy of East Midland, and its acceptance as the chief
literary language, the other dialects practically ceased to be
recorded, with the exception (noted above) of the Scottish
Northumbrian. Of English Northumbrian, the sixteenth century tells us
nothing beyond what we can glean from belated copies of Northern
ballads or such traces of a Northern (apparently a Lancashire) dialect
as appear in Spenser's _Shepherd's Calendar_. Fitzherbert's _Boke
of Husbandry_ (1534) was reprinted for the E.D.S. in 1882. It was
written, not by Sir Anthony Fitzherbert, as I erroneously said in
the Preface, but by his brother, John Fitzherbert, as has been
subsequently shown. It contains a considerable number of dialectal
words. Thomas Tusser (1525-1580), born in Essex, wrote _A Hundreth
Good Pointes of Husbandrie_ (1557), and _Fiue Hundred Pointes of Good
Husbandrie_ (1573); see the edition by Payne and Herrtage, E.D.S.,
1878. He employs many country words, presumably Essex. The dialect
assumed by Edgar in Shakespeare's _King Lear_ is not to be taken as
being very accurate; he talks somewhat like a Somersetshire peasant,
but I suppose his speech to be in a conventional stage dialect, such
as we find also in _The London Prodigall_, Act II, Sc. 4, where
Olyver, "a Devonshire Clothier," uses similar expressions, viz.
_chill_ for _Ich will_, I will; and _chy vor thee_, I warn thee.

Towards the end of the seventeenth century, the value of dialectal
words as helping to explain our English vocabulary began to be
recognised. Particular mention may be made of the _Etymologicon
Linguæ Anglicanæ_, by Stephen Skinner, London, 1671; and it should
be noted that this is the Dictionary upon which Dr Johnson relied for
the etymology of native English words. At the same time, we must not
forget to note two Dictionaries of a much earlier date, which are of
high value. The former of these is the _Promptorium Parvulorum_,
completed in 1440, published by the Camden Society in 1865; which
contains a rather large proportion of East Anglian words. The second
is the _Catholicon Anglicum_, dated 1483, ed. S.J. Herrtage, E.E.T.S.,
1881, which is distinctly Northern (possibly of Yorkshire origin).

We find in Skinner occasional mention of Lincolnshire words, with
which he was evidently familiar. Examples are: _boggle-boe_,
a spectre; _bratt_, an apron; _buffet-stool_, a hassock; _bulkar_,
explained by Peacock as "a wooden hutch in a workshop or a ship."

The study of modern English Dialects began with the year 1674, when
the celebrated John Ray, Fellow of the Royal Society, botanist,
zoologist, and collector of local words and proverbs, issued his
_Collection of English Words not generally used_; of which a second
edition appeared in 1691. See my reprint of these; E.D.S., 1874. This
was the first general collection, and one of the best; and after this
date (1674) many dialect words appeared in English Dictionaries, such
as those of Elisha Coles (1676, and four subsequent editions); John
Kersey (1708, etc.); Nathaniel Bailey (1721, etc.); N. Bailey's
_Dictionary_, Part II, a distinct work (1727, etc.). The celebrated
_Dictionary_ by Dr Johnson, 2 vols., folio, London, 1755, owed much
to Bailey. Later, we may notice the _Dictionary_ by John Ash, London,
1775; and Todd's edition of Johnson, London, 1818. It is needless to
mention later works; see the Complete List of Dictionaries, by H.B.
Wheatley, reprinted in the E.D.S. Bibliographical List (1877), pp.
3-11; and the long List of Works which more particularly relate to
English Dialects in the same, pp. 11-17. Among the latter may be
mentioned _A Provincial Glossary_, by F. Grose, London, 1787, second
edition 1790; _Supplement to the same_, by the late S. Pegge, F.S.A.,
London, 1814; and _Glossary of Archaic and Provincial_ _Words_, by the
late Rev. J. Boucher, ed. Hunter and Stevenson, 1832-3. The last of
these was attempted on a large scale, but never got beyond the word
_Blade_; so that it was practically a failure. The time for producing
a real Dialect Dictionary had not yet come; but the valuable
_Etymological Dictionary of the Scottish Language_, by J. Jamieson,
published at Edinburgh in 4 vols., 4to, in 1808-25, made an excellent

The nineteenth century not only accumulated for our use a rather large
number of general works on Dialects, but also a considerable quantity
of works illustrating them separately. I may instance those on the
dialect of Bedfordshire, by T. Batchelor, 1809; of Berkshire, by Job
Lousley, 1852; Cheshire, by R. Wilbraham, 1820, 1826; East Anglia, by
R. Forby, 1830, and by Nall, 1866; Teesdale, co. Durham, by F.T.
Dinsdale, 1849; Herefordshire, by G.C. Lewis, 1839; Lincolnshire, by
J.E. Brogden, 1866; Northamptonshire, by Miss A.E. Baker, 2 vols.,
1854; the North Country, by J.T. Brockett, 1825, 1846; Somersetshire,
by J. Jennings, 1825, 1869; Suffolk, by E. Moor, 1823; Sussex, by W.D.
Cooper, 1836, 1853; Wiltshire, by J.Y. Akerman, 1842; the Cleveland
dialect (Yorks.), by J.C. Atkinson, 1868; the Craven dialect, by W.
Carr, 1824; and many more of the older type that are still of value.
We have also two fairly good general dictionaries of dialect words;
that by T. Wright, 1857, 1869; and that by J.O. Halliwell, 2 vols.,
1847, 11th ed., 1889. See the exhaustive Bibliographical List of all
works connected with our dialects in the _E.D.D._, pp. 1-59, at the
end of vol. VI.

In 1869 appeared Part I of Dr A.J. Ellis's great work on _Early
English Pronunciation_, with especial reference to Shakespeare and
Chaucer; followed by Part II of the same, on the Pronunciation of the
thirteenth and previous centuries, of Anglo-Saxon, Icelandic, Old
Norse, and Gothic. In 1871 appeared Part III of the same, on the
Pronunciation of the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries. Part IV was
then planned to include the Pronunciation of the seventeenth,
eighteenth, and nineteenth centuries, including the Phonology of the
Dialects; and for this purpose it was necessary to gain particulars
such as could hardly be accomplished without special research. It was
partly with this in view, and partly in order to collect material for
a really comprehensive dictionary, that, in 1873, I founded the
English Dialect Society, undertaking the duties of Secretary and
Director. The Society was brought to an end in 1896, after producing
80 publications and collecting much material. Mr Nodal, of Manchester,
was Secretary from 1876 to 1893; and from 1893 to 1896 the
headquarters of the Society were in Oxford. Besides this, I raised a
fund in 1886 for collecting additional material in manuscript, and
thus obtained a considerable quantity, which the Rev. A. Smythe
Palmer, D.D., in the course of two years and a half, arranged in fair
order. But even in 1889 more was required, and the work was then
taken in hand by Dr Joseph Wright, who gives the whole account of
the means by which, in 1898, he was enabled to issue Vol. I of the
_English Dialect Dictionary_. The sixth and concluding volume of
this most valuable work was issued in 1905.

To this I refer the reader for all further information, which is
there given in a very complete form. At the beginning is a Preface
explaining the history of the book; followed by lists of voluntary
readers, of unprinted MS. collections, and of correspondents
consulted; whilst Vol. VI, besides a Supplement of 179 pages, gives a
Bibliography of Books and MSS. quoted, with a full Index; to which is
added the _English Dialect Grammar_.

This _English Dialect Grammar_ was also published, in 1905, as a
separate work, and contains a full account of the phonology of all the
chief dialects, the very variable pronunciation of a large number of
leading words being accurately indicated by the use of a special set
of symbols; the Table of Vowel-sounds is given at p. 13. The Phonology
is followed by an Accidence, which discusses the peculiarities of
dialect grammar. Next follows a rather large collection of important
words, that are differently pronounced in different counties; for
example, more than thirty variations are recorded of the pronunciation
of the word _house_. The fulness of the Vocabulary in the Dictionary,
and the minuteness of the account of the phonology and accidence in
the Grammar, leave nothing to desire. Certainly no other country can
give so good an account of its Dialects.



It has been shown that, in the earliest period, we can distinguish
three well-marked dialects besides the Kentish, viz. Northumbrian,
Mercian, and Anglo-Saxon; and these, in the Middle English period, are
known as Northern, Midland, and Southern. The modern dialects are very
numerous, but can be arranged under five divisions, two of which may
be called Northern and Southern, as before; whilst the other three
arise from a division of the widely spread Midland into subdivisions.
These may be called, respectively, West Midland, Mid Midland (or
simply Midland), and East Midland; and it has been shown that similar
subdivisions appear even in the Middle English period.

This arrangement of the modern dialects under five divisions is that
adopted by Prof. Wright, who further simplifies the names by using
Western in place of West Midland, and Eastern in place of East
Midland. This gives us, as a final result, five divisions of English
dialects, viz. Northern, Western, Midland, Eastern, and Southern;
to which we must add the dialects of modern Scotland (originally
Northern), and the dialects of Ireland, viz. of Ulster (a kind of
Northern), Dublin, and Wexford (a kind of Southern).

No map of dialects is here given in illustration, because it is
practically impossible to define their boundaries accurately. Such
a map was once given by Dr Ellis, but it is only arbitrary; and Prof.
Wright expressly says that, in his work also, the boundaries suggested
are inexact; they are only given for convenience, as an approximation
to the truth. He agrees with Dr Ellis in most of the particulars.

Many of the counties are divided between two, or even three, dialects;
I somewhat simplify matters by omitting to mention some of them, so as
to give merely a general idea of the chief dialectal localities. For
fuller information, see the _Dialect Grammar_.

I. The dialects of Scotland may be subdivided into nine groups:

1. Shetland and Orkney.  2. Caithness.  3. Nairn, Elgin, Banff,
Aberdeen.  4. E. Forfar, Kincardine.  5. W. Forfar, most of Perth,
parts of Fife and Stirling.  6. S. Ayr, W. Dumfries, Kirkcudbright,
Wigton.  7. S.E. Argyle, N. Ayr, Renfrew, Lanark.  8. Kinross,
Clackmannan, Linlithgow, Edinburgh, Haddington, Berwick, Peebles.
9. E. Dumfries, Selkirk, Roxburgh.

II. Ireland.--Ulster, Dublin, Wexford.

III. England and Wales, in five divisions: (_a_) Northern;
(_b_) Midland; (_c_) Eastern; (_d_) Western; (_e_) Southern.

(_a_) Three groups:  1. Northumberland, N. Durham.  2. S. Durham;
most of Cumberland, Westmoreland, N. Lancashire, hilly parts of
W. Riding of Yorkshire.  3. N. and E. Ridings of Yorkshire.

(_b_) Ten groups:  1. Lincolnshire.  2. S.E. Lancashire, N.E.
Cheshire, N.W. Derby.  3. S.W. Lancashire, S. of the Ribble.
4. Mid Lancashire, Isle of Man.  5. S. Yorkshire; to the S.W. of
the Wharfe.  6. Most of Cheshire, N. Staffordshire.  7. Most of
Derby.  8. Nottingham.  9. Flint, Denbigh.  10. E. Shropshire,
S. Stafford, most of Warwickshire, S. Derby, Leicestershire.

(_c_) Five groups:  1. Cambridge, Rutland, N.E. Northampton.
2. Most of Essex and Hertford, Huntingdon, Bedford, Mid Northampton.
3. Norfolk and Suffolk.  4. Most of Buckingham.  5. Middlesex,
S.E. Buckingham, S. Hertford, S.W. Essex.

N.B. S.W. Northampton is Southern; see (_e_), 4.

(_d_) Two groups:  1. W. and S. Shropshire (W. of Severn).  2. Hereford
(except E.), Radnor, E. Brecknock.

(_e_) Ten groups.  1. Parts of Pembroke and Glamorgan.  2. Wiltshire,
Dorset, N. and E. Somerset, most of Gloucester, S.W. Devon.  3. Most
of Hampshire, Isle of Wight, most of Berkshire, S. Surrey, W. Sussex.
4. N. Gloucester, E. Hereford, Worcester, S. Warwick, N. Oxford,
S.W. Northampton.  5. Most of Oxford.  6. N. Surrey, N.W. Kent.
7. Most of Kent, E. Sussex.  8. W. Somerset, N.E. Devon.  9. Most of
Devon, E. Cornwall.  10. W. Cornwall.



There is a great wealth of modern dialect literature, as indicated
by the lists in the _E.D.D._ Some of these dialect books are poor
and inaccurate, and they are frequently spelt according to no
intelligible phonetic principles. Yet it not unfrequently happens,
as in the works of Sir Walter Scott and Charles Dickens, that the
dialectal scraps indicate the pronunciation with tolerable fidelity,
which is more than can be said of such portions of their works as are
given in the normal spelling. It is curious to notice that writers in
dialect are usually, from a phonetic point of view, more careful and
consistent in their modes of indicating sounds than are the rest of
us. Sometimes their spelling is, accordingly, very good. Those who are
interested in this subject may follow up this hint with advantage.

It is impossible to mention even a tithe of the names of our better
dialect writers. In Scotland alone there is a large number, some of
the more recent bearing such well-known names as those of R.L.
Stevenson, George Macdonald (Aberdeen), J.M. Barrie (Forfarshire), and
S.R. Crockett (Galloway). Dean Ramsay's humorous _Reminiscences of
Scottish Life and Character_ must not be passed over. For Ireland we
have William Carleton's _Traits and Stories of the Irish Peasantry_,
and the novels by Lever and Lover. Cumberland has its delightful
stories of _Joe and the Geologist_, and _Bobby Banks' Bodderment_.
Cornwall has its _Tales_, by J.T. Tregellas. Devon can boast of R.D.
Blackmore, Dorset of Hardy and Barnes, and Lincoln of Tennyson. The
literature of Lancashire is vast; it suffices to mention John Collier
(otherwise Tim Bobbin), author of _Tummus and Meary_, Ben Brierley,
John Byrom, J.P. Morris, author of _T' Lebby Beck Dobby_, and Edwin
Waugh, prose author and poet. _Giles's Trip to London_, and the other
sketches by the same author, are highly characteristic of Norfolk.
Northamptonshire has its poet, John Clare; and Suffolk can boast of
Robert Bloomfield. According to her own statement, printed in the
Preface (p. viii) to the E.D.S. _Bibliographical List_, George Eliot,
when writing _Adam Bede_, had in mind "the talk of N. Staffordshire
and the neighbouring part of Derbyshire"; whilst, in _Silas Marner_,
"the district imagined is in N. Warwickshire." Southey wrote
_T' Terrible Knitters e' Dent_ in the Westmoreland dialect.
Yorkshire, like Lancashire, has a large literature, to which
the _E.D.D._ Booklist can alone do justice.


The following extract is from Chapter XVIII of _Johnny Gibb of
Gushetneuk_, by W. Alexander, LL.D., fifteenth edition, Edinburgh,
1908. One special peculiarity of the dialect is the use of _f_ for
_wh_, as in _fat_, what, _fan_, when. The extract describes how the
speaker and his friends went to hear a bellman make a proclamation
about the appointment of a new minister to a church.

  It's a vera stiff brae, an' ere we wan up to the kirk, it was gyaun
  upon eleyven o'clock. "Hooever," says the mannie, "we'll be in braw
  time; it's twal ere the sattlement begin, an' I'se warran they sanna
  apen the kirk-doors till's till than." So we tak's a luik roun' for
  ony kent fowk. They war stannin' aboot a'gate roun' aboot the kirk,
  in scores an' hunners, fowk fae a' the pairis'es roun' aboot, an'
  some fae hyne awa' as far doon's Marnoch o' the tae han' an' Kintore
  o' the tither, aw believe; some war stampin' their feet an' slappin'
  their airms like the yauws o' a win'mill to keep them a-heat;
  puckles wus sittin' o' the kirk-yard dyke, smokin' an' gyaun on wi'
  a' kin' o' orra jaw aboot the minaisters, an' aye mair gedderin' in
  aboot--it was thocht there wus weel on to twa thoosan' there ere a'
  was deen. An' aye a bit fudder was comin' up fae the manse aboot fat
  the Presbytery was deein--they war chaumer't there, ye see, wi' the
  lawvyers an' so on. "Nyod, they maun be sattlin' 'im i' the manse,"
  says ane, "we'll need a' gae doon an' see gin we can win in." "Na,
  na," says anither, "a bit mair bather aboot thair dissents an'
  appales bein' ta'en; muckle need they care, wi' sic a Presbytery,
  fat they try. But here's Johnny Florence, the bellman, at the lang
  length, I'se be at the boddom o' fat they're at noo." And wi' that
  he pints till a carlie comin' across the green, wi' a bit paper in's
  han', an' a gryte squad o' them 't hed been hingin' aboot the
  manse-door at's tail. "Oo, it's Johnny gyaun to read the edick,"
  cries a gey stoot chap, an' twa three o' them gya a roar o' a
  lauch.... "Speek oot, min!" cries ane. "I think ye mith pronunce
  some better nor that, Johnny," says anither; an' they interrupit
  'im fan he was tryin' to read wi' a' kin' of haivers, takin' the
  words oot o's mou, an' makin' the uncoest styte o't 't cud be.

    Notes.--_brae_, hill; _wan up_, got up; _gyaun upon_,
    going close upon; _braw_, excellent; _twal_, twelve;
    _sattlement_, decision; _I'se_, I will (lit. I shall);
    _sanna_, will not; _till's_, for us; _kent fowk_, known
    people, acquaintances; _a'gate_, in all ways; _hunners_,
    hundreds; _fae_, from; _hyne awa'_, hence away, as far
    off; _the tae_, the one; _the tither_, the other; _yauws_,
    sails; _puckles_, numbers, many; _dyke_, stone fence;
    _orra jaw_, various loud talk; _mair gedderin'_, more
    gathering; _on to_, near; _deen_, done; _bit fudder_,
    bit of a rumour (lit. gust of wind); _fae_, from; _fat_,
    what; _deein_, doing; _chaumer't_, chambered, shut up;
    _nyod_, a disguised oath; _we'll need_, we must; _gin_,
    if; _win in_, get in: _bather_, bother; _at the lang
    length_, at last; _carlie_, churl; _gryte squad_, great
    crowd; _gey stoot_, rather stout; _twa three_, two or
    three; _gya_, gave; _mith_, might; _nor that_, than that;
    _haivers_, foolish talk; _mou_, mouth; _uncoest_, most
    uncouth, strangest; _styte_, nonsense.


The following lines are quoted from a well-known
poem by Robert Burns (1759-1796).

       The Twa Dogs (Cæsar and Luath).

_Cæs_. "I've notic'd, on our Laird's court-day,
       An' mony a time my heart's been wae,
       Poor tenant bodies, scant o' cash,
       How they maun thole a factor's snash
       He'll stamp an' threaten, curse an' swear,
       He'll apprehend them, poind their gear;
       While they maun stan', wi' aspect humble,
       An' hear it a', an' fear and tremble!
         I see how folk live that hae riches;
       But surely poor folk maun be wretches."
_Lu._  "They're no sae wretched's are wad think;
       Tho' constantly on poortith's brink,
       They're sae accustom'd wi' the sight,
       The view o't gies them little fright....
         The dearest comfort o' their lives,
       Their grushie weans an' faithfu' wives:
       The prattling things are just their pride,
       That sweetens a' their fire-side....
         That merry day the year begins,
       They bar the door on frosty win's;
       The nappy reeks wi' mantling ream,
       An' sheds a heart-inspiring steam;
       The luntin' pipe an' sneeshin-mill
       Are handed round wi' right good will;
       The cantie auld folks crackin' crouse,
       The young anes ranting thro' the house--
       My heart has been sae fain to see them
       That I, for joy, hae barkit wi' them!"...
         By this, the sun was out o' sight,
       An' darker gloamin' brought the night:
       The bum-clock humm'd wi' lazy drone,
       The kye stood rowtin' i' the loan;
       When up they gat, an' shook their lugs,
       Rejoic'd they were na _men_ but _dogs_;
       An' each took aff his several way,
       Resolv'd to meet some ither day.

    Notes.--_wae_, sorrowful; _maun thole_, must endure, must
    put up with; _factor's snash_, agent's abuse; _poind_,
    seize upon, sequester; _gear_, property; _hae_, have;
    _no sae_, not so; _wad_, would; _poortith_, poverty;
    _grushie_, of thriving growth, well-grown; _weans_,
    children; _win's_, winds; _nappy_, foaming ale; _reeks_,
    smokes; _ream_, cream; _luntin'_, smoking, emitting smoke;
    _sneeshin-mill_, snuff box; _cantie_, merry; _crackin'_,
    conversing; _crouse_, with good spirits; _ranting_,
    running noisily; _fain_, glad; _gloamin'_, twilight;
    _bum-clock_, beetle (that booms); _kye_, cows; _rowtin'_,
    lowing; _loan_, milking-place; _lugs_, ears.


The following stanzas are from _The Farmer's Ingle_, a poem by
Robert Fergusson (1750-1774), a native of Edinburgh.

  Whan gloming grey out o'er the welkin keeks,
    Whan Batie ca's his owsen to the byre,
  Whan Thrasher John, sair dung, his barn-door steeks,
    And lusty lasses at the dighting tire:
  What bangs fu' leal the e'enings coming cauld,
    And gars snaw-tappit winter freeze in vain,
  Gars dowie mortals look baith blythe and bauld,
    Nor fley'd wi' a' the poortith o' the plain;
    Begin, my Muse, and chant in hamely strain.

  Frae the big stack, weel-winnow't on the hill,
    Wi' divets theekit frae the weet and drift,
  Sods, peats, and heath'ry trufs the chimley fill,
    And gar their thick'ning smeek salute the lift;
  The gudeman, new come hame, is blythe to find,
    Whan he out o'er the halland flings his een,
  That ilka turn is handled to his mind,
    That a' his housie looks sae cosh and clean;
    For cleanly house lo'es he, tho' e'er sae mean.

  Weel kens the gudewife that the pleughs require
    A heartsome meltith, and refreshing synd
  O' nappy liquor, o'er a bleezing fire;
    Sair wark and poortith downa weel be join'd.
  Wi' buttered bannocks now the girdle reeks;
    I' the far nook the bowie briskly reams;
  The readied kail stands by the chimley-cheeks,
    And hauds the riggin het wi' welcome streams;
    Whilk than the daintiest kitchen nicer seems....

  Then a' the house for sleep begin to grien,
    Their joints to slack frae industry a while;
  The leaden god fa's heavy on their een,
    And hafflins steeks them frae their daily toil;
  The cruizy too can only blink and bleer,
    The restit ingle's done the maist it dow;
  Tackman and cottar eke to bed maun steer,
    Upo' the cod to clear their drumly pow,
    Till waukened by the dawning's ruddy glow.

    Notes.--_Ingle_, chimney-corner. _Gloming_, twilight;
    _keeks_, peeps; _ca's_, drives (lit. calls); _owsen_,
    oxen; _byre_, cow-house; _sair dung_, sorely tired;
    _steeks_, shuts; _dighting_, winnowing; _bangs fu'
    leal_, defeats right well; _gars_, makes; _-tappit_,
    crested; _dowie_, melancholy; _fley'd_, frighted;
    _poortith_, poverty.

    _Divets_, turfs; _theekit_, thatched; _weet_, wet;
    _sods, peats, and heath'ry trufs_, various turf fuels;
    _chimley_, fire-place; _gar_, make; _smeek_, smoke;
    _lift_, sky; _halland_, partition forming a screen;
    _een_, eyes; _ilka_, each; _cosh_, cosy; _lo'es_, loves.

    _Kens_, knows; _meltith_, meal-tide, meal; _synd_,
    wash-down, draught; _nappy_, heady, strong; _downa_,
    cannot; _bannocks_, cakes; _girdle_, hot-plate; _reeks_,
    smokes; _bowie_, cask, beer-barrel; _reams_, foams;
    _readied kail_, (dish of) cooked greens; _by_, beside;
    _hauds... het_, keeps... hot; _riggin_, roof over the open
    hearth; _whilk_, which.

    _Grien_, yearn, long; _hafflins steeks_, half shuts;
    _cruizy_, oil-lamp; _bleer_, bedim (the sight); _restit
    ingle_, made up fire; _dow_, can; _tackman_, lease-holder,
    farmer; _cod_, pillow; _drumly pow_, confused head.


The following extract is from a remarkable tract entitled _A Bran
New Wark, by William De Worfat_; Kendal, 1785. The author was the
Rev. William Hutton, Rector of Beetham in Westmoreland, 1762-1811, and
head of a family seated at Overthwaite (here called Worfat) in that
parish. It was edited by me for the E.D.S. in 1879.

  Last Saturday sennet, abaut seun in the evening (twas lownd and
  fraaze hard) the stars twinkled, and the setting moon cast
  gigantic shadows. I was stalking hameward across Blackwater-mosses,
  and whistling as I tramp'd for want of thought, when a noise struck
  my ear, like the crumpling of frosty murgeon; it made me stop short,
  and I thought I saw a strange form before me: it vanished behint a
  windraw; and again thare was nought in view but dreary dykes, and
  dusky ling. An awful silence reigned araund; this was sean brokken
  by a skirling hullet; sure nivver did hullet, herrensue, or miredrum,
  mak sic a noise before. Your minister [_himself_] was freetned, the
  hairs of his head stood an end, his blead storkened, and the haggard
  creature moving slawly nearer, the mirkiness of the neet shew'd her
  as big again as she was... She stoup'd and drop'd a poak, and thus
  began with a whining tone. "Deary me! deary me! forgive me, good Sir,
  but this yance, I'll steal naa maar. This seek is elding to keep us
  fra starving!"... [_The author visits the poor woman's cottage_.]
  She sat on a three-legg'd steal, and a dim coal smook'd within the
  rim of a brandreth, oor which a seety rattencreak hung dangling fra
  a black randletree. The walls were plaister'd with dirt, and a stee,
  with hardly a rung, was rear'd into a loft. Araund the woman her
  lile ans sprawl'd on the hearth, some whiting speals, some
  snottering and crying, and ya ruddy-cheek'd lad threw on a bullen
  to make a loww, for its mother to find her loup. By this sweal I
  beheld this family's poverty.

    Notes.--_Sennet_, seven nights, week; _seun_, seven;
    _lownd_, still, calm; _murgeon_, rubbish earth cut up and
    thrown aside in order to get peat; _windraw_, heap of dug
    earth; _ling_, kind of heather; _skirling hullet_, shrieking
    owlet; _herrensue_, young heron; _miredrum_, bittern; _blead
    storkened_, blood congealed; _neet_, night; _poak_, bag;
    _yance_, once; _seck_, sack, i.e. contents of this sack;
    _elding_, fuel; _steal_, stool; _brandreth_, iron frame
    over the fire; _seaty_, sooty; _rattencreak_, potcrook,
    pothook; _randletree_, a beam from which the pothook hangs;
    _stee_, ladder; _loft_, upper room; _lile ans_, little
    ones; _whiting speals_, whittling small sticks; _snottering_,
    sobbing; _ya_, one; _bullen_, hempstalk; _loww_, flame;
    _loup_, loop, stitch in knitting; _sweal_, blaze.


I here give a few quotations from the Glossary of Words used in the
Wapentakes of Manley and Corringham, Lincolnshire, by E. Peacock,
F.S.A.; 2nd ed., E.D.S., 1889. The illustrative sentences are very

  _Beal_, to bellow.--Th' bairn beäled oot that bad, I was clëan
  scar'd, but it was at noht bud a battle-twig 'at hed crohlëd up'n
  hisairm. (_Battle-twig_, earwig; _airm_, arm.)

  _Cart, to get into_, to get into a bad temper.--Na, noo, thoo
  neädn't get into th' cart, for I weän't draw thee.

  _Cauf_, a calf, silly fellow.--A gentleman was enlarging to a
  Winterton lad on the virtues of Spanish juice [liquorice water].
  "Ah,then, ye'll ha' been to th' mines, wheäre thaay gets it," the
  boy exclaimed; whereupon the mother broke in with--"A greät cauf!
  Duz he think 'at thaay dig it oot o' th' grund, saäme as thaay do

  _Chess_, a tier.--I've been tell'd that e' plaaces wheäre thaay
  graw silk-worms, thaay keäps 'em on traays, chess aboon chess,
  like cheney i' a cupboard. (_E'_ in; _cheney_, china.)

  _Clammer_, to climb.--Oor Uriah's clammered into th' parson's
  cherry-tree, muther, an' he is swalla'in on 'em aboon a bit.
  I shouldn't ha tell'd ye nobbut he weänt chuck me ony doon.
  (_Nobbut_, only.)

  _Cottoner_, something very striking.--Th' bairn hed been e'
  mischief all daay thrif; at last, when I was sidin' awaay th'
  teä-things, what duz he do but tum'le i'to th' well. So, says I,
  Well, this is a cottoner; we shall hev to send for Mr Iveson
  (the coroner) noo, I reckon. (_Thrif_, through; _sidin' awaay_,
  putting away.)

  _Ducks_.--A girl said to the author, of a woman with whom she had
  been living for a short time as servant, "I'd raather be nibbled
  to deäd wi' ducks then live with Miss P. She's alus a natterin'."
  (_Deäd_, death; _alus_, always; _natterin'_, nagging.)

  _Good mind_, strong intention.--She said she'd a good mind to hing
  her-sen, soä I ax'd if I mud send for Mr Holgate (the coroner), to
  be ready like. (_Hing_, hang; _mud_, might.)

  _Jaup_, senseless talk.--Ho'd the jaup wi' th{(e}; dos't ta want
  ivery body to knaw how soft thoo is? (_Ho'd_, hold; _soft_,


The following poem is from _Poems and Songs_ by Edwin Waugh; 3rd ed.,
London, 1870.

    Owd Pinder.

  Owd Pinder were a rackless foo,
    An' spent his days i' spreein';
  At th' end ov every drinkin-do,
    He're sure to crack o' deein';
  "Go, sell my rags, an' sell my shoon,
    Aw's never live to trail 'em;
  My ballis-pipes are eawt o' tune,
    An' th' wynt begins to fail 'em!

  Eawr Matty's very fresh an' yung;--
    'T would any mon bewilder;--
  Hoo'll wed again afore it's lung,
    For th' lass is fond o' childer;
  My bit o' brass'll fly--yo'n see--
    When th' coffin-lid has screen'd me--
  It gwos again my pluck to dee,
    An' lev her wick beheend me.

  Come, Matty, come, an' cool my yed;
    Aw'm finish'd, to my thinkin';"
  Hoo happed him nicely up, an' said,
    "Thae'st brought it on wi' drinkin'."--
  "Nay, nay," said he, "my fuddle's done,
    We're partin' tone fro tother;
  So promise me that, when aw'm gwon,
    Thea'll never wed another!"

  "Th' owd tale," said hoo, an' laft her stoo;
    "It's rayly past believin';
  Thee think o' th' world thea'rt goin' to,
    An' lev this world to th' livin';
  What use to me can deeod folk be?
    Thae's kilt thisel' wi' spreein";
  An' iv that's o' thae wants wi' me,
    Get forrud wi' thi deein'!"

    Notes.--_Owd_, old; _rackless foo_, reckless fool; _spreein'_,
    merry-making, drinking; _-do_, bout; _He're_, he would be;
    _crack o' deein'_ , hint at dying; _Aw's_, I shall; _trail_,
    walk in; _ballis-pipes_, bellows-pipes, lungs; _eawt_, out;
    _wynt_, wind.

    _Eawr_, our, my; _Hoo_, she; _brass_, money; _yo'n_, you will;
    _lev_, leave; _wick_, quick, i.e. alive.

    _Yed_, head; _happed_, covered; _fuddle_, drinking-bout;
    _tone fro tother_, the one from the other.

    _Stoo_, stool; _Thee think_, do thou think; _deeod_, dead;
    _o'_, all; _get forrud_, get on, go on.


The following extract is from A. Bywater's _Sheffield Dialect_,
3rd ed, 1877; as quoted in S.O. Addy's _Sheffield Glossary_,
E.D.S., 1888, p. xv.

  _Jerra Flatback._ Hah, they'n better toimes on't nah, booath e
  heitin and clooas; we'n had menni a mess a nettle porridge an brawls
  on a Sunda mo'nin, for us brekfast... Samma, dusta remember hah
  menni names we had for sahwer wotcake?

  _Oud Samma Squarejoint._ O kno'n't, lad; bur o think we'd foive or
  six. Let's see: Slammak wer won, an' Flat-dick wer anuther; an't
  tuther wor--a dear, mo memra fails ma--Flannel an' Jonta;
  an-an-an-an--bless me, wot a thing it is tubbe oud, mo memra gers
  war for ware, bur o kno heah's anuther; o'st think on enah.--
  A, Jerra, heah's menni a thahsand dogs nah days, at's better dun
  too nor we wor then; an them were t'golden days a Hallamshoir, they
  sen. An they happen wor, for't mesters. Hofe at prentis lads e them
  days wor lether'd whoile ther skin wor skoi-blue, and clam'd whoile
  ther booans wer bare, an work'd whoile they wor as knock-kneed as
  oud Nobbletistocks. Thah nivver sees nooa knock-kneed cutlers nah:
  nou, not sooa; they'n better mesters nah, an they'n better sooat a
  wark anole. They dooant mezher em we a stick, as oud Natta Hall did.
  But for all that, we'd none a yer wirligig polishin; nor Tom Dockin
  scales, wit bousters comin off; nor yer sham stag, nor sham revvits,
  an sich loik. T' noives wor better made then, Jerra.

  _Jerra_: Hah, they wor better made; they made t' noives for yuse
  then, but they mayn em to sell nah.

    Notes.--Observe _'n_ for _han_ (plural), have; _on't nah_,
    of it now; _e heitin_, in eating; _mess a_, dish of, meal of;
    _brawis_, brose, porridge; _hah_, how; _sahwer wotcake_,
    leavened oatcake; _bur o_, but I; _mo_, my; _ma_, me;
    _tubbe oud_, to be old; _gers_, gets; _war for ware_,
    worse for wear; _o'st_, I shall; _think on_, remember;
    _enah_, presently; _nah days_, nowadays; _at's_, that are;
    _dun too_, treated; _nor we_, than we; _Hallamshoir_,
    Hallamshire, the district including Sheffield and the
    neighbourhood; _sen_, say; _happen_, perhaps; _for't_,
    for the; _hofe at_, half of the; _e them_, in those;
    _lether'd_, beaten; _whoile_, till; _clam'd_ (for _clamm'd_),
    starved; _sooat a_, sort of; _anole_, and all; _we_, with;
    _wirligig_, machine; _Tom Dockin scales_, scales cut out of
    thin rolled iron instead of being forged; _bousters_, bolsters
    (a _bolster_ is a lump of metal between the tang and the blade
    of a knife); _stag_, stag-horn handle (?); _mayn_, pl. make.


The following extract is from "Betty Bresskittle's Pattens, or Sanshum
Fair," by J.C. Clough; printed with Holland's _Cheshire Glossary_,
E.D.S. (1886), p. 466. Sanshum or Sanjem Fair is a fair held at
Altrincham on St James's Day.

  Jud sprung upo' th' stage leet as a buck an' bowd as a dandycock,
  an' th' mon what were playingk th' drum (only it wer'nt a gradely
  drum) gen him a pair o' gloves. Jud began a-sparringk, an' th'
  foaks shaouted, "Hooray! Go it, owd Jud! Tha'rt a gradely Cheshire

  Th' black felly next gen Jud a wee bit o' a bang i' th' reet ee, an
  Jud git as weild as weild, an hit reet aht, but some hah he couldna
  git a gradely bang at th' black mon. At-aftur two or three minutes
  th' black felly knocked Jud dahn, an t'other chap coom and picked
  him up, an' touch'd Jud's faace wi' th' spunge everywheer wheer he'd
  getten a bang, but th' spunge had getten a gurt lot o' red ruddle on
  it, so that it made gurt red blotches upo' Jud's faace wheer it
  touched it; an th' foaks shaouted and shaouted, "Hooray, Jud! Owd
  mon! at em agen!" An Jud let floy a good un, an th' mon wi' th'
  spunge had to pick th' blackeymoor up this toime an put th' ruddle
  upo' his faace just at-under th'ee.

  "Hooray, Jud! hooray, owd mon!" shaouted Jock Carter o' Runjer;
  "tha'rt game, if tha'rt owd!"

  Just at that vary minit Jud's weife, bad as hoo were wi' th'
  rheumatic, pushed her rooäd through th' foaks, and stood i' th'
  frunt o' th' show.

  "Go it agen, Jud! here's th' weife coom t'see hah gam tha art!"
  shaouted Jonas.

  Jud turn'd rahnd an gurned at th' frunt o' th' show wi' his faace
  aw ruddle.

  "Tha girt soo! I'll baste thi when aw get thi hwom, that aw will!"
  shaouted Betty Bresskittle; "aw wunder tha artna ashamed o' thisen,
  to stond theer a-feightingk th' deevil hissel!"

    Notes.--_Jud_, for George; _leet_, light; _bowd_, bold;
    _dandycock_, Bantam cock; _gradely_, proper; _gen_, gave; _owd_,
    old; _reet ee_, right eye; _git_, got; _as weild as weild_, as
    wild as could be; _aht_, out; _at-aftur_, after; _gurt_, great;
    _em_, him; _floy_, fly; _Runjer_, Ringway; _game_ (also _gam_),
    full of pluck; _hoo_, she; _rooad_, road, way; _gurned_,
    grinned; _soo_, sow (term of abuse); _hwom_, home; _thisen_,

EASTERN (Group 2): N. ESSEX.

The following extract is from _John Noakes and Mary Styles_, by
Charles Clark, of Great Totham; London, 1839. Reprinted for the
E.D.S., 1895. As Great Totham is to the North of Maldon, I take this
specimen to belong to Prof. Wright's "Division 2" rather than to the
S.W. Essex of "Division 5." The use of _w_ for initial _v_ occurs
frequently, as in _werry_, very, etc.

  At Tottum's Cock-a-Bevis Hill,
    A sput surpass'd by few,
  Where toddlers ollis haut to eye
    The proper pritty wiew,

  Where people crake so ov the place,
    Leas-ways, so I've hard say;
  An' frum its top yow, sarteny,
    Can see a monsus way.

  But no sense ov a place, some think,
    Is this here hill so high,--
  'Cos there, full oft, 'tis nation coad,
    But that don't argufy.

  As sum'dy, 'haps, when nigh the sput,
    May ha' a wish to see 't,--
  From Mauldon toun to Keldon 'tis,
    An' 'gin a four-releet.

  At Cock-a Bevis Hill, too, the
    Wiseacres show a tree
  Which if you clamber up, besure,
    A precious way yow see.

  I dorn't think I cud clime it now,
    Aldoe I uster cud;
  I shudn't warsley loike to troy,
    For gulch cum down I shud.

  My head 'ood swim,--I 'oodn't do't
    Nut even fur a guinea;
  A naarbour ax'd me, t'other day;
    "Naa, naa," says I, "nut quinny."

    Notes.--_Sput_, spot; _toddlers_, walkers; _ollis_, always;
    _haut_, halt; _wiew_, view. _Crake_, boast; _leas(t)ways_, at
    least; _sarteny_, certainly; _monsus_, monstrous, very long.

    _No sense ov a_, poor, bad; _coad_, cold; _argufy_, prove

    _Sum'dy_, somebody; _from M._, between Maldon and Kelvedon;
    _'gin_, against, near; _four-releet_ (originally _four-e leet_,
    lit. "ways of four," _four-e_ being the genitive plural, hence)
    meeting of four roads.

    _Dorn't_, don't; _aldoe_, although; _uster cud_ (for _us'd to
    could_), used to be able; _warsley_, vastly, much; _loike_,
    like; _gulch_, heavily, with a bang.

    _'Ood_, would; _nut_, not; _ax'd_, asked; _naa_, no; _nut
    quinny_, not quite, not at all.


The following extract from "A Norfolk Dialogue" is from a work
entitled _Erratics by a Sailor_, printed anonymously at London in
1800, and written by the Rev. Joshua Larwood, rector of Swanton
Morley, near East Dereham. Most of the words are quite familiar to me,
as I was curate of East Dereham in 1861-2, and heard the dialect
daily. The whole dialogue was reprinted in _Nine Specimens of
English Dialects_; E.D.S., 1895.

The Dialogue was accompanied by "a translation," as here reprinted. It
renders a glossary needless.

  Original Vulgar Norfolk.
  _Narbor Rabbin and Narbor Tibby._

      _Neighbour Robin and Neighbour Stephen._

  _R._ Tibby, d'ye know how the knacker's mawther Nutty du?

      _R._ Stephen, do you know how the collar-maker's daughter
      Ursula is?

  _T._ Why, i' facks, Rabbin, she's nation cothy; by Goms, she is so
  snasty that I think she is will-led.

      _S._ Why, in fact, Robin, she is extremely sick; by (_obsolete_),
      she is so snarlish, that I think she's out of her mind.

  _R._ She's a fate mawther, but ollas in dibles wi' the knacker and
  thackster; she is ollas a-ating o' thapes and dodmans. The fogger sa,
  she ha the black sap; but the grosher sa, she have an ill dent.

      _R._ She's a clever girl, but always in troubles with the
      collar-maker and thatcher; she is always eating gooseberries
      and snails. The man at the chandler's shop says she has a
      consumption: but the grocer says she's out of her senses.

  _T._ Why, ah! tother da she fared stounded: she pluck'd the pur
  from the back-stock, and copped it agin the balk of the douw-pollar,
  and barnt it; and then she hulled [it] at the thackster, and hart
  his weeson, and huckle-bone. There was northing but cadders in the
  douw-pollar, and no douws: and so, arter she had barnt the balk, and
  the door-stall, and the plancher, she run into the par-yard, thru
  the pytle, and then swounded behinn'd a sight o' gotches o' beergood.

      _S._ Why, aye! the other day she appeared struck mad: she
      snatched the poker from the back of the stove, and flung it
      against the beam of the pigeon-house, and burnt it; and then she
      throwed it at the thatcher, and hurt his throat and hip-bone.
      There were no pigeons in the pigeon-house, and nothing but
      jack-daws; and so, after she had burned the beam, and the
      door-frame and the floor, she ran into the cowyard, through the
      small field, and fainted behind several pitchers of yeast.

  _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 'eärd 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

  _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

  _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,
  surelý! 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 doänt 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 doänt 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'


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 Ecclesiæ Dunelmensis. Surtees Society. London,

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

---- 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,

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

Cædmon, 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
    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 Vitæ_, 20
  Ritual, 21

Eagre, 97
Earle, Prof., 14
Edinburgh dialect, 115, 116
  _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 Vitæ_, 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
Müller, 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

  _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 }

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