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than the well-known periphrastic one, so fully illustrated in W. S. Gram. pp. 50-79.
The pronoun it is sometimes emphasized and is then pronounced [ee't], but its use is uncommon, and only heard in such sentences as-I tell ee it is [ee't aiz], where both words are stressed by way of asseveration.
All collective nouns, even if plural in form, take a singular construction and take it after them. Zo you bought all th' apples, did ee? well I don't know hot you be gwain to do way it, I 'ant a-got
They zess how he bought a lot o' beast off o' Mr. Bucknell, and 't idn a paid vor. I baint gwain to turn things in to market, nif
can't zell it.
As a neuter pron. it is unknown to us in W. Som., while in Devon it is common. They say, You've a-braukt it then, to last. Hath her a-lost it? We say, You've a-tord'n, Hath her a-loss'n? The possessive form its is quite unknown; his or her in the forms [eez, úz, -s; uur, ur,] are invariable. Indeed, one would like to know with certainty, when its was first used in literature; but for this we must wait for the new English Dictionary.
The Chapter of Wells, a presumably educated body, wrote to the Bishop of Winchester in 1505 about the drainage of their contiguous land
cause the floodgate of o said myell to be pulled up, so that the water shall haue his full course. Reynolds, Wells Cathedral, App. iii. p. 217.
The contraction of as to a mere sibilant, sometimes hard, sometimes soft, in whatever its connection, is not only usual, but without exception, even when it begins a sentence.
'z I was gwain to St. Ives, &c., would be the way it would be pronounced, but of course this would not be the vernacular idiom. As in the sense of when, at the time that, or just in the manner that, would all be expressed by eens.
I zeed'n eens (as when) I was gwain home to dinner. Her was a-catchd nezactly eens (as = at the moment) her come in the door.
Twad'n nit one bit o' good to sarch no more, eens I told'n tho' just as I told him at the time).
The conjunction as, however, enters very largely indeed into west country speech. For just as scarcely a remark can be made without a simile, so in the construction of those similes as is to be found in a full half-i. e. in the phrase same as [sae'um-z]
alternating with its synonym like. I can't zee a pin to choose in Same's the crow zaid by the heap o'
em, one's so bad's tother.
toads, they be all of a sort.
Again as is used almost as often in connection with though, which we pronounce off or theff, as shown in the example to illustrate contraction of these (ante p. xviii).
Tid'n s'off I'd a-do'd ort agin he, nor neet s'off anybody was a-beholdin to un, then anybody must put up way 'is sarce.
As is never used in the south-west, like it is in many districts, for a relative.
"Twas him as done it," could not be said by a native of the Western counties. (See EVANS, Leicester Gloss. p. 26.) Neither would it be used in the sense of like, or in the same manner as. We could not say, "He shall reap as he has sown," our idiom would be a complete paraphrase-" Eens he've a-zowéd, zo sh'll er rape." As, I may venture to say, is never used before if; as if is never heard, but always, in the way before illustrated, our idiom is s-off, or 's thoff-i. e. as though. Neither is it found in such refined company as for or to.
In phrases like "As for that matter," or "As to what you say," our idiom would be "zo var's that goth," or "consarnin' o' what you do zay." The expression "as well," in the sense of also, likewise, and "as yet"-i. e. up to this time, have not yet filtered down to us. We could not bring our tongues to utter such refinements as, "Bring me some tea and a little milk as well," "I have never come upon such an instance as yet," but we should say, "a drap o' milk 'long way it," "sich a instance never avore."
The double use of as-i. e. before and after the adjective or adverb, which is now the polite form, is never heard in the dialect; as well as, as big as, &c. are invariably so well's, so big's, &c.
The preposition of is a peculiar instance of change and contraction under certain fixed conditions, which appear hitherto not to have attracted attention.
1. It invariably drops its consonantal ending when followed by a consonant, and becomes a mere breathing-u.
[Lee'd beets u dhingz. Dhai bwuuy'z du maek aup u suyt u murs chee.] A bag o' taties. I be that there maze-headed I can't think o' nothin'.
2. It drops its consonantal ending, and usually becomes changed to long sound, when followed by a short vowel, provided that vowel is the initial of a syllable.
He said he'd break th' 'ead d'un. He could'n never do it out o' is own head. There was vower or vive o' us. Trode 'pon the voot o' 'er. I 'ant a-got none o' um (or contracted to o'm).
3. It drops its consonant and becomes of medial length when standing at the end of a clause.
"Tidn nort vor to be 'shamed o'. Cockney-Taint nothink to be ashamed on. They chil'ern o' yours be somethin' vor to be proud o'. What be actin' o'? is the ordinary method of saying, What are you doing? What be a tellin' o'? What are you saying? What d'ye tell o' ! is very common; indeed it is the usual form of You don't say so! indeed! oh, brave, &c.
4 Of retains its consonantal ending when followed by a short vowel standing alone, like the indefinite a, even though in rapid speech it sounds like the initial of a syllable.
[Lee dl beet uv u dhing.] Gurt mumphead of a fuller. Bit of a scad, I count.
5. It retains its consonantal ending when followed by a long vowel.
Nif on'y I'd a-got a little bit of ort vrash like. Her's about of eighty, I count. This would more commonly be About of a eighty, and so accord with Paragraph 4. Comp. 'BOUT O' TWENTY.
Her didn want nort of he.
6. Emphatic of is common, and loses its consonant.
[Kaa'n tuul eentaa'y hautúv ́ur faar sheen dhai bee oa] is the usual form of, I really cannot give you a description of them. See INTY. I vound these thing-'tis a 'an'l oaf o' something, but I can't tell what 'tis o'.
Certain verbs in the dialect take of after them, which in lit. Eng. have at, or else require no preposition to follow them. To laugh, always is followed by of.
Hotiver be larfin'o'? is vernacular for What are you laughing at? Troake! What are you laughing at? Plase, sir, I wad'n larfin' o you. Well, I did'n zee nort to larf o'. You no 'casion to larf o' they, gin you can do it better yourzul.
To touch always takes of after it.
I zaid I'd hat down the very fust man that aim to tich o' un. Tommy, don't you tich o' thick there hot ire, else you'll scald yourzul.
Her thort herzul ter'ble fine, sure 'nough, but nobody wad'n a-tcokt in-didn lie in her burches vor to tich of a rale lady.
In this last, touch has the force of approach, in the sense of imitating or counterfeiting.
Watch takes o' after the participle.
Who be you watchin' o'? I baint watchin' o' you.
On is never used for of (as in example No. 3); indeed, as a preposition it is nearly unknown. Its use is almost confined to adverb, as in put on, go on, straight on, &c.—but of this later.
Before cardinal numerals the dialect retains the indefinite adjective a, while the literary speech retains it only before nouns of number, such as dozen, score, and certain of the numerals which have become such-e. g. hundred, thousand, million, &c. In the dialect, however, the use is apparently subsiding, as it is now generally confined to those cases where the number is rendered indefinite by the expression about or more than.
How many were there? Au! I count there was about of a dree or vower and twenty. Were there really so many? Well, I'll war'nt was more'n a twenty o'm. So we should always hear "about of a ten, of a fifteen," or any number, and the same with respect to more than.
The same form is found in Luke ix. 28, "And it came to pass about an eight days after these things," except that in the modern dialect we drop the euphonious n in the article and insert of after about.
About in this sense is always followed by of, and very frequently the indefinite a is prefixed to nouns of time, as
I sh'll be back about of a dinner-time.
He said he'd get'n ready about of a Vriday.
Whether these latter instances may not be contractions of at or on, I am unable to say, but extended to about of on Friday, about of at dinner time, they seem awkward.
Again, the same form is used after about, when "the time of day" is spoken of.
I sh'll be home 'bout of a zix o'clock.
About is a curious word in the dialect. It is very commonly used in the sense of "for the purpose of." I heard a farmer say, "This is poor trade, sure 'nough, 'bout growin' o' corn," which being interpreted means, "This is poor stuff of soil for the purpose of growing corn upon." ." Here was by no means an unintelligent man; he had not a very marked intonation or brogue, and he used words to be found in every dictionary, but out of his own district I think his words would have been totally misunderstood,
even though his hearer had the benefit of the Society's great Dictionary with Dr. Murray himself at hand to help him.
The late Rev. "Jack" Russell (see Life, Bentley, 1878, p. 242) said, "The hounds are as good as ever they were; but fed on that wishy-washy trade, I'll defy them, or any hounds on earth, to kill a good fox."
It is usual to say, "Shocking bad weather 'bout zowin' o' whate," "Purty tool this here, 'bout cuttin' o' timber way."
A boy who is to be thrashed, is to have a stick "about his back." An old man, who alas! was frozen to death, said to me of some spar-gads which he was making into spars, "Gurt ugly toads, the fuller that cut 'em ort to a-had 'em a-beat about the gurt head o'un."
In both these last instances about neither means upon, or around, or against, but a compound of all three, with an implication of violence to boot. Of course we use about in the ordinary literary meanings.
Another curious preposition is used only in the dialect in the contracted form 'pon, for the on of lit. English. In many cases upon, which is first expanded to upon the top of, has become contracted out of sight, or rather improved off the face of the earth.
We should not tell a person to "put it down upon the table," but to "put'n down tap the table." "I saw him swinging upon the gate" would be, "I zeed'n ridin' tap the gate." This idiom. is used throughout the West. Nathan Hogg in his letter on Gooda
An I'll tul thur tha vust thing I'll du ta be zshore
Again in Bout tha Balune
Poor vellers! they always wis vond uv ort vresh,
This word tap is all that remains of the pleonastic form " upon the top of." When upon is used, it often has up or down before it, just as under takes down or in to complement it.
You must git a fresh sheep-skin and put-n up 'pon the back o' un. This was said by a farrier as part of the treatment for a sick cow, which was lying down unable to stand. (Nov. 1883.)
I don't want no trust, I always pays down 'pon the nail. Plaisters, poultices and such-like applications have to be "put up" to the part.
I was a-forced to put a blister up to his chest.
I put the lotion up to his knee, eens you ordered me.
The preposition to is frequently omitted before the infinitive