Alright my lover? ‘Ow be yon, ‘en?
Somerset ‘speak’ has long been analysed and picked apart by anyone interested in accents and language. From linguists and academics, to kids in a playground, to revellers in a pub, everyone has an opinion, or theory of why we talk the way we do, and why we might sometimes pick up certain sounds from other accents.
But language and in particular, dialects are a dynamic and ever changing thing. Just listen to your child (if you have one or indeed are related to one) and their friends when they speak, they’ll have slang that makes no sense to many people who are perhaps only 5 or 10 years older than them, yet they use such words between them without batting an eye-lid. Often slang phrases are particular to just one school or town, and are spread through peer-groups and a desire to mimic the ‘cool’ kids who come up with them.
But ‘idiolectal‘ uses are not the be all and end all of language change and dialect formation. Words used regionally can be traced back to an older variety in use in that region that was a relic of an older and more wide-spread dialect, or reveal the roots of the language itself (that’s language with a little ‘l’).
Having been born in Bristol (or ‘Brizzle’) and brought up in various villages within 3 miles of Bridgwater (‘Bridgey’), I consider myself reasonably well positioned to discuss our wonderful dialect. However, I can only comment on the variation of ‘Somerset’ that I grew up with. For older variations, I need to do a bit of research. In the first instance, I’ll be looking at a rather splendid book I found in my local library – Lost Words in The Somersetshire Dialect, a book first published in 1873 by two Welsh scholars, W.P. Williams, and W.A. Jones. I’ll picking words from this book and discussing them, or just sharing the wonderful use of the words with you.
I’ll also be bringing you lots of other fun Somerset language-related items that makes I laff.
So kick off yer daps, grab a glass o’ zider and let’s get crackin’…!