. Regional variation of pronunciation in the south-west of England

seem improbable, given that there is a plural adjective form /ejz/ and

that the 'this':'that' opposition is maintained elsewhere in the system.

However, all attempts to elicit such a form failed, and there is at least

one spontaneous utterance where, if a form /ejz/ did exist as a pronoun,

it might be expected to appear:

Theres thousands of acres out there would grow it better than they

in here grow it.

Taking all these factors together, we tentatively suggest that the

opposition this:that is neutralized in this position, even though this

seems rather unlikely, given the adjectival system.

But there is another point. It is in fact difficult to identify

occurrences of /ej/ as demonstratives with any certainty, because the form

is identical with that of the personal pronoun /ej/ (Standard English

they or them).

We may observe at this point that in the dialect, the third plural

personal pronoun forms are /ej/ and /?m/. The first form is used in all

stressed positions and as unstressed subject except in inverted Q-forms;

the second is used as the unstressed non-subject, and as the unstressed

subject in inverted Q-forms. Thus we find:


I had to show the pony but they winned the cups.

I could chuck they about.

Thats up to they, they know what theym about of.

Theyd take em back of your door for half-a-crown.


They expect to have a name to the house, dont em?

Where do em get the tools to?

That was as far as ever they paid em.

I stayed there long with em for more than a year.

When considering /ej/, we find a series of utterances such as the

following in which a division between personal and demonstrative pronouns

would be largely arbitrary.

I could throw em. chuck they about.

They in towns, they go to concerts,

Us finished up with they in ...

They do seven acres a day, now, with they.

There is they that take an interest in it.

I could cut in so straight (as) some of they that never do it.

Although, following the system of Standard English, we have so far

differentiated between /ej/ as a stressed personal pronoun and /ej/ as a

demonstrative pronoun, it is clearly more economical, in terms of the

dialectal material, to consider the two functions as coalescing within one

system: STRESSED /ej/; UNSTRESSED /?m/. This system would operate in all

positions where Standard English would show either a third person plural

personal pronoun, or a plural demonstrative pronoun. Similarly, there is a

dialectal system STRESSED /at/ UNSTRESSED /it/ in the third person

singular, where the referent is abstract or non-specific, in that /at/

never occurs unstressed nor /it/ stressed. Thus in contrast to the last

example above, we find:

I seed some of em that never walked a mile in their lives,

where the form /?m/ is unstressed. (Such unstressed examples are much rarer

than stressed examples in positions where Standard English would show a

demonstrative pronoun simply because those is normally stressed in

Standard English.)

We should note finally, however, that this analysis of the material

does not in any way explain the absence of a plural pronoun /ejz/, any

more than the linking of /at/ with /it/ precludes the existence of a

singular demonstrative pronoun /i:z/. The non-existence of /ejz/ as a

pronoun seems best considered as an accidental gap in the corpus. (18,

p.20 )

3.6 Verbs.

- In the south-western dialects in the singular and in the plural in

Present Indefinite the ending -s or -es is used, if the Subject

is expressed as

a noun.

e.g. Boys as wants more mun ask.

The other ehaps works hard.

- In Devonshire -th [] is added to verbs in the plural in Present


- The form am (m) of the verb to be is used after the personal


e.g. We (wem = we are) (Somersetshire)

you, they

- After the words if, when, until, after Future Indefinite

sometimes used.

- The Perfect form in affirmative sentences, in which the Subject is

expressed as a personal pronoun, is usually built without the

auxiliary verb have:

e.g. We done it.

I seen him.

They been and taken it.

- The negation in the south-western dialects is expressed with the

adding of the negative particle not in the form -na to the


e.g. comesna (comes not)

winna (= will not)

sanna (= shall not)

canna (= cannot)

maunna (= must not)

sudna (= should not)

dinna (= do not)

binna (= be not)

haena (= have not)

daurna (= dare not)

- It is typical to the south-western dialects to use too many

nigotiations in the same phrase:

e.g. I yint seen nobody nowheres.

I dont want to have nothing at all to say to you.

I didnt mean no harm.

Yell better jist nae detain me nae langer.

- The negative and interrogative forms of the modal verbs are built

with the help of the auxiliary verb do.

e.g. He did not ought to do it.

You do not ought to hear it.

- Some verbs which are regular in the Standard language become

irregular in the south-western dialects:

e.g. dive - dave, help - holp

- Sometimes the ending -ed is added to some irregular verbs in the

Past Simple:

e.g. bear - borned, begin - begunned, break - broked, climb - clombed,

dig - dugged, dive - doved, drive - droved, fall - felled, find


funded, fly - flewed, give - gaved, grip - grapped, hang -


help - holped, hold - helded, know - knewed, rise - rosed, see -

sawed, shake - shooked, shear - shored, sing - sunged, sink -

sunked, spin - spunned, spring - sprunged, steal - stoled,

strive -

stroved, swear - swored, swim - swammed, take - tooked, tear -

tored, wear - wored, weave - woved, write - wroted.

- But some irregular verbs in the Past Simple Tense are used as


e.g. begin - beginned (Western Som., Dev.)

bite - bited (W. Som.)

blow - blowed (Dev.)

drink - drinked (W. Som.)

drive - drived (Dev.)

fall - falled (W. Som., Dev.)

fight - fighted (W. Som.)

fall - falled (Som., Dev.)

go - gade (Dev.)

grow - growed (W. Som.)

hang - hanged (W. Som.)

lose - losed (W. Som., Dev.)

ring - ringed (W. Som.)

speak - speaked (Som.)

spring - springed (W. Som., Dev.)

- Many verbs form the Past Participle with the help of the ending -n.

e.g. call - callen

catch - catchen

come - comen

- In some cases in the Past Participle a vowel in the root is

changed, and the suffix is not added.

e.g. catch - [k t?]

hit - [a:t]

lead - [la:d]

- In the south-western dialects intransitive verbs have the ending -

y [?].

- In Western Somersetshire before the infinitive in the function of

the adverbial modifier of purpose for is used:

e.g. Hast gotten a bit for mend it with? (= Have you got anything to

mend it with?)

3.7 Adverbs.

- In the south-western dialects an adjective is used instead of the


e.g. You might easy fall.

- To build the comparative degree far is used instead of further;

laster instead of more lately.

- The suparative degree: farest; lastest; likerest; rathest.

a) The adverbs of place:

abeigh [?b?x] - at some distance

abune, aboon - above

ablow - under

ben, benn - inside

outbye [utba?] - outside

aboot - around

hine, hine awa - far

ewest - near

b) The adverbs of the mode of action:

hoo, foo - how

weel - great

richt - right

ither - yet

sae - so

c) The adverbs of degree:


e.g. How are you today? - Not much, thank you.

much is also used in the meaning of wonderfully

e.g. It is much you boys cant let alone they there ducks.

It was much he hadnt a been a killed.


rising is often used in the meaning of nearly

e.g. How old is the boy? - Hes rising five.

- fell, unco, gey, huge, fu, rael are used in the meaning of


- ower, owre [aur] - too

- maist - nearly

- clean - at all

- that - so

- feckly - in many cases

- freely - fully

- naarhan, nighhan - nearly

- han, fair - at all

d) Adverbs of time:

whan, fan - when

belive, belyve - now

yinst - at once

neist - then

fernyear - last year

afore (= before)

e.g. Us can wait avore you be ready, sir.

next - in some time

e.g. next day = the day after tomorrow

while = till, if

e.g. Youll never make any progress while you listen to me.

You have to wait while Saturday.

3.8 Transitivity and intransivity in the dialects of South-West


One of the most important aspects of studying south-western English is

dialect syntax. So, the article by Jean-Marc Gachelin can give us much

information about transitivity and intransitivity in the dialects of South-

West England.

Wakelin has pointed out that syntax is an unwieldy subject which

dialectologists have fought shy of. This brushing aside of dialect syntax

is regrettable because the study of grammatical variation can shed light on

the workings of any language, and thereby enrich general linguistics. The

present chapter deals with an area of dialect syntax - transitivity in

south-west of England dialects - and attempts to characterize and explain,

synchronically and diachronically, its salient features.

We prefer the moderation of Kilby, who simply admits that the notion

of direct object (DO) is not at all transparent in its usage. The

problem, therefore, should be not so much to discard but rather to improve

our notions of transitivity and intransitivity. In this regard, the

dialects of South-west England are important and interesting.

1. A description of transitivity and intransitivity in the dialects of

South-west England.

When compared with the corresponding standard language, any

geographical variety may be characterized by three possibilities:

(a) identity; (b) archaism (due to slower evolution); and (c)

innovation. Interestingly enough, it is not uncommon in syntax for (b) and

(c) to combine if a given dialect draws extensively on a secondary aspect

of an older usage. This is true of two features which are highly

characteristic of the South-west and completely absent in contemporary

Standard English.

1.1 Infinitive + y

One of these characteristics is mentioned by Wakelin, the optional

addition of the -y ending to the infinitive of any real intransitive verb

or any transitive verb not followed by a DO, namely object-deleting verbs

(ODVs) and ergatives. The use of this ending is not highlighted in the

Survey of English Dialects (SED, Orton and Wakelin). It is only indirectly,

when reading about relative pronouns, that we come upon There iddn (=

isnt) many (who) can sheary now, recorded in Devon (Orton and Wakelin).

However, Widen gives the following examples heard in Dorset: farmy,

flickery, hoopy (to call), hidy, milky, panky (to pant), rooty (talking

of a pig), whiny. Three of these verbs are strictly intransitive (ftickery,

panky, whiny), the others being ODVs. Wright also mentions this

characteristic, chiefly in connection with Devon, Somerset and Dorset.

In the last century, Barnes made use of the -y ending in his Dorset

poems, both when the infinitive appears after to:

reky = rake


drashy = thresh


and after a modal (as in the example from the SED):

Mid (= may) happy housen smoky round/The church.

The cat veil zick an woulden mousy.

But infin.+y can also be found after do (auxiliary), which in South-

west dialects is more than a more signal of verbality, serving as a tense-

marker as well as a person-marker (do everywhere except for dost, 2nd pers.

sing.). Instead of being emphatic, this do can express the progressive

aspect or more often the durative-habitual (= imperfective) aspect, exactly

like the imperfect of Romance languages. Here are a few examples culled

from Barness poems:

Our merry shepes did jumpy.

When I do pitchy, tis my pride (meaning of the verb, cf pitch-fork).

How ga the paths be where we do strolly.

Besides ODVs and intransitive verbs, there is also an ergative:

doors did slammy.

In the imperative, infin. -y only appears with a negative:

dont sobby!

The optional use of the -y ending is an advantage in dialect poetry

for metre or rhyme:

Vor thine wull peck, an mine wull grubby (rhyming with snubby)

And this ending probably accounts for a phonetic peculiarity of South-west

dialects, namely the apocope of to arguy (the former dialect pronunciation

of to argue), to carry and to empty, reduced to to arg, to car and to empt.

In the grammatical part of his Glossary of the Dorset Dialect, Barnes

insists on the aspectual connection between do and infin.+y:

Belonging to this use of the free infinitive y-ended verbs, is

another kindred one, the showing of a repetition or habit of doing as How

the dog do jumpy, i-e keep jumping. The child do like to whippy, amuse

himself with whipping. Idle chap, hell do nothen but vishy, (spend his

time in fishing), if you do leve en alwone. He do markety, he usually

attends market.

Barnes also quotes a work by Jennings in which this South-west feature

was also described:

Another peculiarity is that of attaching to many of the common verbs

in the infinitive mode as well as to some other parts of different

conjugations, the letter -y. Thus it is very common to say I cant sewy,

I cant nursy, he cant reapy, he cant sawy, as well as to sewy, to

nursy, to reapy, to sawy, etc; but never, I think, without an auxiliary

verb, or the sign of the infinitive to.

Barnes claimed, too, that the collocation of infin. +y and the DO was

unthinkable: We may say, Can ye zewy? but never Wull ye zewy up these

zam? Wull ye zew up these zam would be good Dorset.

Elworthy also mentions the opposition heard in Somerset between I do

dig the garden and Every day, I do diggy for three hours (quoted by

Jespersen and by Rogers). Concerning the so-called free infinitive,

Wiltshire-born Rogers comments that it is little heard now, but was common

in the last century, which tallies with the lack of examples in the SED.

(This point is also confirmed by Itialainen) Rogers is quite surprised to

read of a science-fiction play (BBC, 15 March 1978) entitled Stargazy in

Zummerland, describing a future world in which the population was divided

between industrial and agricultural workers, the latter probably using some

form of south-western speech, following a time-honoured stage tradition

already perceptible in King Lear (disguised as a rustic, Edgar speaks broad


To sum up, after to, do (auxiliary), or a modal, the formula of the

free infinitive is

intr. V > infin. + -y/0

where intr. implies genuine intransitives, ODVs and even ergatives. As a

dialect-marker, -y is now on the wane, being gradually replaced by 0 due to

contact with Standard English.

1.2 Of + DO

The other typical feature of south-western dialects is not mentioned

by Wakelin, although it stands out much more clearly in the SED data. This

is the optional use of o/ov (occasionally on) between a transitive verb

and its DO. Here are some of the many examples. Stripping the feathers off

a dead chicken (Orton and Wakelin) is called:

pickin/pluckin ov it (Brk-loc. 3);

trippin o en (= it) (D-loc. 6);

pickin o en (Do-loc. 3);

pluckin(g) on en - (W-loc. 9; Sx-loc. 2).

Catching fish, especially trout, with ones hand (Orton and Wakelin)

is called:

ticklin o/ov em (= them) (So-loc. 13; W-loc. 2, 8; D-loc. 2, 7, 8; Do-

loc. 2-5; Ha-loc. 4);

gropin o/ov em (D-loc. 4, 6);

ticklin on em (W-loc. 3, 4; Ha-loc. 6; Sx-loc. 3);

: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8