This book will help you understand the unique and ancient Hampshire dialect and have you talking like a native in no time. The book includes a dictionary to help you develop an altogether new vocabulary, plus a wonderful collection of tales and anecdotes, all chosen to illustrate different aspects of the delightful local dialect.
Hampshire, the largest county in south-east England and the third largest UK ‘shire’, is the birthplace of all three of the British Forces: the Army still resides in Aldershot; the RAF began life in Farnborough, my home town and one which still plays an important part in UK aviation; and the coastal towns of Portsmouth and Southampton have strong links with the Royal Navy. Hampshire’s county town, Winchester, was historically the capital of England, and is still home to the largest medieval cathedral in Europe.
Despite a large number of populated towns and cities, a huge 45 per cent of Hampshire is taken up with two National Parks – the South Downs and the unique New Forest – and there’s no shortage of very charming villages and hamlets.
Although a Midlander myself, I’ve lived in or around Hampshire for several decades, and am still discovering fascinating aspects about its places, people and dialect. Hampshire is often left out of dialect discussions; there’s a general belief that it’s a ‘posh’ county, whose inhabitants speak in a ‘Queen’s English’ accent. However, in my experience use of ‘Estuary English’ – a halfway-house between cockney and standard English – is more common and, also contrary to popular belief, very few people in Hampshire use a west country ‘oo arr’ accent or dialect!
In the early 19th century, people living in rural south-west Hampshire, particularly the New Forest, spoke a dialect which is now rarely heard. You can still find traces of words peculiar to the area, and the accent itself has changed little but nowadays you’re not likely to hear someone ask, ‘Wair did ur cum vrom?’ (‘Where did she come from?’) or ‘Bist dhee gwein too?’ (‘Are you going, too?’), or ‘Haih, loo see, dhaier’s a scuggee muggings zittin on t’ gaalay-baagur!’ (Look, see, there’s a squirrel sitting on the scarecrow’)!
Sadly, along with many other local dialects around the British Isles, the use of a Hampshire dialect has steadily decreased as the population has became more mobile over the past 75 years. So the following glossary is a selection of words taken from what older local Hampshire people either remember or still use, and from a collection of New Forester’s dialect recorded mainly at the turn of the last century.
After the glossary, you’ll find snippets about Hampshire life that I hope give a flavour of the rich diversity of the county, both past and present.
Released: August 2014
Publisher: Bradwell Books
Size: 180 x 110mm
Author: Linda Fernley