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Sunday, 23 February 2014

Darset vor all

Devonian Sir Francis Drake's rich West Country accent never held him back.
In 1950 the Society of Dorset Men, on the occasion of their annual dinner, sent a telegram to the king...the words ran:

To His Majesty King Jarge, Oonce more, the Zociety o' Darset Men, voregather'd round their vestive bwoard at th' Darchester Hotel vor their Yearly Junket, d' zend Yer Most Graishus Majesty their dootiful greetins and expression of unswerven loyalty an' devotion. May Yer Majesty be zpared to us vor many years as our pattern an' guide. I d' bide, vor all time, Yer Vaithful Zarvint and Counsellor...

The message written, albeit self-consciously, in the rich dialect of Dorset, is under threat, while Northern accents go from strength to strength; ask yourself, when when was the last time a macho filmic hero introduce himself, 'Oi be Bond, Jethroe Bond'...?
Unfortunately, the Dorset accent suffers from a major image problem probably too late to rectify. Here is a taste of  vocabulary that has all but almost disappeared...

A-strout-stiff stretched.
-to shake with cold
Blind-buck o’ Davy-blindman’s buff
Chanker-a wide chink
Critch-a big pitcher
Croodle-to crow softly
Dadder-dather, dudder, to maze or bewilder
Dumbledore-the humble bee.
Emmet-an ant
Gally-to frighten
Glutch-to swallow
Hidlock-a hiding place
Jack-o’-lent-a man-like scarecrow
Libbets-loose-hanging rags
Nunch-a nog or knob of food

And finally... during the Gulf War an ageing neighbour once complained to me about her 'scuds'. A secret arsenal bound for Saddam? just the hard skin on her feet..

William Barnes champion of Dorset dialect who wrote dialect poems,
several of which were set to music by Vaughn Williams 

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