Released: April 2015
Publisher: Bradwell Books
Size: 180 x 110mm
Author: Linda Fernely
This book will help you understand the unique and ancient Wiltshire 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.
Wiltshire is a county in the south-west of England, bordered by Hampshire, Dorset, Berkshire, Somerset,
Gloucestershire and Oxfordshire. It is landlocked, boasts almost 1,400 square miles (3,500 sq km), and is characterised by its high downland and beautiful wide valleys. Salisbury Plain is famous as the location of the ancient landmarks of Stonehenge – where druids still gather each year at summer and winter solstice – and the stone circles at Avebury, among others, and is also renowned as the training ground for the British Army.
The view of Salisbury Cathedral across the water meadows of the River Avon has been voted the loveliest view in England, and was famously painted by renowned artist, John Constable, from the gardens of the Bishop’s Palace. Much of this rural county is given over to agriculture, although industry has become increasingly important; Swindon – the major manufacturing town – is one of the fastest-growing urban areas of England. There are a large amount of ‘timeless’ rural villages with thatched, limestone-built cottages, and a vast selection of cosy country pubs offering open fires in winter and traditional English food and drink.
Wiltshire was once a part of ‘Wessex’, the West Saxon kingdom. West Saxon became one of the most influential dialects that make up Old English; however, there are, or certainly were, several distinctions in the Wiltshire form, and the dialect is characterised by its very noticeable ‘r’ sounds.
As the population has become more mobile over the past 75 years, sadly, along with many other local dialects around the UK, the use of a Wiltshire dialect has steadily decreased. However, there are still many words that were common in Old or even Middle English that can still be found in use today. For instance, ‘thee’ is often used instead of ‘you’ and is sometimes abbreviated to ‘ee’, as in ‘I is off fer a drink – is ’ee comin?’ You will often hear ‘I’ instead of ‘me’, and will find that ‘I am’ is sometimes replaced with ‘I be’, and often an erroneous ‘s’ is placed at the end of a word: ‘ I sees that’. And ‘s’ is often pronounced as ‘z’, as in ‘zommet is wrong with this’, while ‘v’ can be heard instead of ‘f’, as in ‘What be a-lollupin’ about like that vor?’ A letter ‘t’ is often pronounced as a ‘d’, as in ‘I be tellin ee, dat dractor needs new tyres’ (‘I’m telling you, that tractor needs new tyres’)!
The following glossary is a selection of words taken from what older local Wiltshire people either remember or still use, and from words first recorded in Glossary of Words Used in the County of Wiltshire, complied by George Edward Dartnell and The Rev. Edward Hungerford Goddard in 1893. After the glossary, you’ll find snippets about Wiltshire life that I hope give a flavour of the rich diversity of the county, both past and present.