Drama Shark (varyar) wrote in linguaphiles,

Are there any folk familiar with the Wiltshire dialect of English?

If so, I'd be supremely in your debt if you could give the following passage a run through with a red pen. A bit of background that may help: this takes place in 1889 in the fictional county of Barsetshire. To simplify things, I've decided to represent the rural dialect of said county with that of 19th century Wiltshire.

As for the four characters, William and Frome are upper middle class men from the city of Barchester who've gone into the country to hunt, John is William's servant and assistant, and Sam is a friend of John's. (Frome brought a man along, too, but he has no lines in this scene.)



The quartet stood there in uncertain silence for a moment. Just then, along the lane ahead came an old farmer leading a mule cart. His fashions predated the Crimean War and the man himself seemed to William to have been born early in the Napoleonic era.

John hailed him. “Good ev’nen, naighbor,” he said with a nod to the old farmer. Then he turned to William and Frome. “This be Sam Leadley.”

“A pleasure, Mr. Leadley,” William said.

“These be my employer William Wedgefield an Mr. Vincent Frome of tha town.”

“Good ev’nen ta ye, Measter Wedgefield, Measter Frome. Good ta meet ye, zirs,” Sam said, nodding slowly as he did.

John continued in a rather leisurely fashion. “We was talking juz now about tha old Abbey.”

Sam offered another slow nod.

“An I tell ye, Mr. William, there be no better ta tell ye about tha Abbey than Sam, not even if ye go ta London.”

“Is that so?” William asked Sam.

Sam rubbed his tiny, wrinkled jaw. “I knows a story ar two, zirs.”

“Do any happen to involve, say, ghosts?” William inquired.

“Zurely one da, zir. I hearded it from old Measter Bowey. ‘E wur in tha pay of tha High Zeriff of Barzetshere in old King Willum’s day. ‘E wur a smart one an that right ta tha end. I wur a boy when I hearded it. ‘E told me tha story hisself...” Sam trailed off, ruminating in silence.

After a moment or two, William said “What story did he tell you?”

Sam fixed him with a slightly reproving look. “About tha Abbey an what he zaw. It wur Walpurghsnight, when tha witches be about. Bowey, ‘e be about, too, ‘tween tha pub an his house, an that wur on tha lane – this lane.” The old farmer pointed one gnarled, stubby finger at the road ahead, then swept his arm over to the woods to their left, and the old Abbey ruins within them. As the sun began to set, the tall trees and stones – yes, William could just barely see the skeleton of the old Abbey, too – took on a slightly unsettling appearance, which embarrassed and irritated the explorer.

“He wur no fool, and zo he hurried on, but, an this zurely wur nigh weer we be standing now, ahh, the lights...” Sam stopped again to gather the memories, ar put them together – fortunately not for as long this time. “Blue lights, they wur, blue an red, an dancing, he zays ta me.”

“Dancing?” Frome interjected.

“Ay, dancing. Zo he zays ta me. That wur only tha start! He zays ta me, ‘I looked at them an they looked at me, Zam.’ An then, oh, then tha chase!”

“Chase?” William asked.

“Ay, chase! Tha lights, they da come out of tha woods an if he hadn’t run, who knowed what might happen? Tha lights may have taken him away –”

“Take him away? To where?” Frome asked.

Sam positively glared. “But he got away from tha lights,” he continued, ignoring the interruption. “And he ran all tha way back ta tha pub! As it wur closer, zurely, ar he wur just in a terryable steat a mind. Zo if ye want ta go by tha wood on Walpurghsnight, don’t! Measter Chriztopher Braidwood, he could have told ye, too, if...” The farmer trailed off with transparent expectation.

“If?”

“If he weren’t taken away!” Sam concluded with a snap of his fingers. And with that, he headed on his way before.

William, who had lived in Barsetshire his entire life, was amazed he’d never heard the story before. Granted, Abbeyvale was in a rural eastern district of the county, far from the town, but still... Well, I suppose it’s not such a small world after all, William thought. He looked into the woods again with an open mind – but there were no lights.
Tags: english, english dialects
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  • 6 comments

oh_meow

April 22 2014, 20:10:33 UTC 7 months ago

Did you write it and want people to proof-read it, or is it actually from Trollope and you want people to help you understand it?

varyar

April 22 2014, 20:13:29 UTC 7 months ago

The former - I wrote it and I want it checked for accuracy. (Also, my source wasn't Trollope, but Edward Slow: http://edwardslow.wordpress.com/03-his-works/)

dougalbug

April 22 2014, 20:30:38 UTC 7 months ago

Wiltshire lady here! Funnily enough, despite living in Wales now, I was in Frome yesterday.

There's a couple of different dialects in Wiltshire.
When you say red pen, what is it exactly you're looking for?

varyar

April 22 2014, 21:40:49 UTC 7 months ago

Hi! Thanks for the reply.

What are the different Wiltshire dialects?

As for red pen - editorial remarks and corrections of mistakes.

taversham

April 24 2014, 12:38:26 UTC 7 months ago

I'm in Devon which is similar regarding dialect, but not completely the same and obviously I'm over a century out of date, so apologies if anything in this comment is wrong, and feel free to ignore any/all of it, and also I feel like I've been massively picky because what you have already is essentially fine really, but anyway...

The link you posted above isn't working for me, but I've had a quick reread of The Moonrakers and The Transvaal War, and I realise Mr Slow was inconsistent about...everything, so in general I've assumed things like using both "and" and "an", and "just" and "juz" are in homage to him and haven't commented on that sort of thing (though in the latter case might I suggest "jist" instead of either?).

Some other things that jumped out at me:

"this", "these" - I'd go with "this/these yer" (or "this/these here") instead of "this" or "these" on their own. Or "thic"/"thic em"/"thic thar", if you're feeling more adventurous.

"this be", "'e be" - I'd use "is" in the singular (in the third person), and "be" just in the plural

"we was talking" - "we wur/were talking"

"An I tell ye, Mr. William" - is John meant to be less dialect-y than Sam? If not, I'd expect "thee"/"ee" rather than "ye" when he's addressing one person.

"Measter" - is it intentional that Sam is using "Master" (i.e., "Measter") when all the other characters seem to be using "Mr" (presumably "Mister"?)? Seems a bit odd if he isn't in their paid service.

"if ye go ta London", "if ye want" - "you", because it's the nominative case (...if you're thinking that "ye" should be nominative and "you" should be oblique case, then you're right, it should, but it isn't).

"zurely", "zeriff", "Barzetshere" - I know English orthography doesn't really make this easy, but having "z" representing both a voiced-"s" sound and a voiced-"sh" sound is a bit confusing. Might it be easier to use "zh" for the latter as in Zhivago?

"hearded" - "heared"

"weer we be standing" - "where". "weer" would rhyme with "jeer", "hear", etc, not "there"

"hadn't" - "han(')t"

"weren't" - "wurden"? since you're using "wur"

varyar

April 24 2014, 12:57:34 UTC 7 months ago

Many, many, many thanks!

John is indeed speaking more "proper" English.

As for the rest, looks good to me. How does this revised version look?

***

John hailed him. “Hiyerr, naighbor,” he said with a nod to the old farmer. Then he turned to William and Frome. “This be Sam Leadley.”
“A pleasure, Mr. Leadley,” William said.
“These be my employer William Wedgefield an Mr. Vincent Frome of tha town.”
“Good ev’nen ta ye, Mister Wedgefield, Mister Frome. Good ta meet ye, zirs,” Sam said, nodding slowly as he did.
John continued in a rather leisurely fashion. “We was talking jist now about tha old Abbey.”
Sam offered another slow nod.
“An I tell ye, Mr. William, there be no better ta tell ye about tha Abbey than Sam, not even if ye go ta London.”
“Is that so?” William asked Sam.
Sam rubbed his tiny, wrinkled jaw. “I knows a story ar two, zirs.”
“Do any happen to involve, say, ghosts?” William inquired.
“Zhurely one da, zir. I hearded it from old Mister Bowey. ‘E wur in tha pay of tha High Zheriff of Barzhetshere in old King Willum’s day. ‘E wur a smart one an thit right ta tha end. I wur a boy when I heared it. ‘E told me tha story hisself...” Sam trailed off, ruminating in silence.
After a moment or two, William said “What story did he tell you?”
Sam fixed him with a slightly reproving look. “About tha Abbey an what he zaw. It wur Walpurghsnight, when tha witches be about. Bowey, ‘e be about, too, ‘tween tha pub an his house, an thit wur on tha lane – thic thar lane.” The old farmer pointed one gnarled, stubby finger at the road ahead, then swept his arm over to the woods to their left, and the old Abbey ruins within them. As the sun began to set, the tall trees and stones – yes, William could just barely see the skeleton of the old Abbey, too – took on a slightly unsettling appearance, which embarrassed and irritated the explorer.
“He wur no fool, and zo he hurried on, but, an thic zhurely wur nigh where we be standing now, ahh, the lights...” Sam stopped again to gather the memories, or put them together – fortunately not for as long this time. “Blue lights, they wur, blue an red, an dancing, he zays ta me.”
“Dancing?” Frome interjected.
“Ay, dancing. Zo he zays ta me. Thit wur only tha start! He zays ta me, ‘I looked at them an they looked at me, Zam, an amang them wur tha White Ooman.’”
“White Woman?”
“Ay, tha one thit be zeen in tha ruins. Thit be another story. Az for Bowey – an then, oh, then tha chase!”
‘Chase?’ I zaid. Zays he, ‘Ay, chase! Tha lights, they da come out of tha woods, on her word I think, an if I han’t run, who knowed what might happen? Tha lights may have taken me away –‘”
“Take him away? To where?” Frome asked.
Sam positively glared. “But he got away from tha Ooman an tha lights,” he continued, ignoring the interruption. “And he ran all tha way back ta tha pub! As it wur closer, zhurely, ar he wur just in a terryable steat a mind. Zo if you want ta go by tha wood on Walpurghsnight, don’t! Measter Chriztopher Braidwood, he could have told ye, too, if...” The farmer trailed off with transparent expectation.
“If?”
“If he wurden taken away!” Sam concluded with a snap of his fingers. And with that, he headed on his way before.