New England Dialect, Isaac Bassett Choate (continued)
equally quaint. They show plainly enough the drawl and the twang of New England; and, what is more and to the purpose, as well, they show that rustic and poet are alike in their loyalty to early training.
A dialect grows out of the retention of old words, the adoption of new words, unusual application and construction of words, quaint pronunciation of them, and even the tones with which they are spoken; in short, it partakes of the entire nature, and of all the functions of language. We shall, therefore, look to find the correspondences and the discrepancies between the American and the English, sometimes on one point, and sometimes on another.
Instead of quoting Tennyson or any poet who has consciously imitated the speech of the country people, it will prove more satisfactory to draw upon those writers who have been curious to note the unstudied speech of the people as they have heard it spoken. Novelists, tourists, and poets will furnish ample material ready to our hands.
The testimony of Mr. L. J. Jennings is competent, and to the point. In writing of Derbyshire, he reports a conversation which he had with an old man of that shire, and he adds this comment upon the interview: "I noticed that when the old man used the word 'do' he pronounced it dew; 'to,' tew, 'true,' trew; and so on, — all 'Yankeeisms,' as people say, supposed by some to be peculiar to New England, but in reality relics of speech imported from Old England two hundred years and more ago." Farther reading will show us that "relics" such as these are more numerous and more frequently to be met in the Old Country than in the New. It is easy to show that these were venerable relics before they were brought to this country, by reference to the letters of Jakke Trewman in 1381, and the mention of Trew-tonge in the "Vision of Piers Plowman."
These quaint bits of antiquity most commonly result from vowel-change, and a single specimen that will exhibit most of the possible changes will be convenient at the outset. Walter White, in his "Eastern England," gives the following Christmas canticle as he heard it chanted in those parts:
"As Oi sot on a sunny bonk,
A sunny bonk, a sunny bonk,
As Oi sot on a sunny bonk
On Christmas dee in t' mornin';
Oi saw thray ships coom seelin' boy,
Coom seelin' boy, coom seelin' boy,
Oi saw thray ships coom seelin' boy
On Christmas dee in t' mornin'.
"And hew should bay in thase thray ships,
In thase thray ships, in thase thray ships,
And hew should bay in thase thray ships,
But Joseph and his fair leddy;
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