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Further materials: 'Talking Lawrence'

Some patterns of grammar and pronunciation in the dialect speech of Eastwood and the Erewash Valley.

Odour of Chrysanthemums is one of a number of works in which Lawrence makes extensive use of the authentic dialect of Eastwood and the Erewash Valley (see, for example, Hillier 2004-5 and forthcoming). The dialect, in fact, serves to define the working class mining community in which he grew up and in which the story is set, and there can be no doubt that he was writing here from inside the working class experience. A basic grasp of the different elements of the dialect can deepen our appreciation of the ways in which Lawrence chooses to use the language he knew so well.

Lawrence's use of dialect is usually approached via vocabulary (see the extensive glossaries of dialect words found in, for example, Baron and Baron, eds, 1994, and Schwarze and Worthen, eds, 1999). However, any dialect of British English, whether standard or non-standard, should also be regarded as a particular collection of linguistic features of structure (grammar) and pronunciation (accent). The extent to which any particular features are used in any given context will vary in identifiable and systematic ways according to (a) the regional origins and (b) the social origins of any group of speakers. There is a correlation between the social class of speakers (roughly defined by level of education, income, type of occupation, etc) and the degree to which regional features of pronunciation and (especially) grammar occur in their speech. In broad terms, non-standard grammatical features will tend to correlate with a 'strong' regional accent (i.e. one having many regional pronunciation features) and also with 'working class'. Spoken Standard English grammar, usually with a number of regional pronunciation features, will tend to correlate with 'middle class'. (The non-regional 'Received Pronunciation' (RP) is the accent with the highest prestige, but it is spoken by only a tiny proportion of the population of the British Isles.) (See Part I of Milroy and Milroy, eds, 1993, and Hughes, Trudgill and Watt 2005: 1-17 for more extended introductions to the factors influencing variation in English.)

It is consistent with this broad linguistic view that Lawrence should show the characters who represent the working class mining community in Odour of Chrysanthemums using many features of non-standard grammar and that their quoted dialogue should be 'heard' as having many local pronunciation features. The following pages, therefore, list some of the patterns of grammar and pronunciation in the dialect speech of Eastwood and the Erewash Valley, many of which can still be heard today. (Research continues, and this framework should therefore be regarded as 'work in progress'.)

Individual features are grouped and presented in alphabetical order for reference purposes. (No order of priority or importance is implied.)

Illustrative examples are cited under each heading from Odour of Chrysanthemums, mainly from Version A, and/or, in a few instances, from Sons and Lovers (Baron and Baron, eds, 1994) and The Merry-go-Round (Schwarze and Worthen, eds, 1999). Page and line numbers refer to the relevant edition. Specific features within examples are shown in bold italics, and omissions via [ ].

Grammatical patterns (compared with standard British English grammar)

I Adverbs

(a) without -ly
He went peaceful, Lizzie - as peaceful as sleep. (A43:25, Grandmother)
Not four foot of space, there wasn't - yet it scarce bruised him. (D303:9-10, pit manager)

(b) fair as intensifier (mainly with verb)
...you can fair smell it [the fire] (A20:17, Annie)

(c) that as intensifier (with adjective/premodifier)
...he knew how to laugh, he did, when I had him. That hearty! (A43:26-27, Grandmother)

II Conjunction as (for standard that)
I hear as Walter's no better than he was (A16:3-4, Father)
It is a scandalous thing as a man can't even come in to his dinner. (A21:7-8, Elizabeth Bates)
...if you'll just step inside an' see as th' childer doesn't come downstairs...(A29:17-18, Mrs Rigley)
Ah've said many a time as Ah'd fill up them ruts in this entry... (A32:9-10, Rigley)

III Definite Article the

(a) reduction of definite article, usually to th':
They on'y go on th' steerfoot mat (A17:33, John)
Did you call at th' 'Prince of Wales'? (A29:3, Mrs Rigley)
...so we com'n ter th' bottom, me an' Bower... (A31:1, Rigley)
'E saw 'im i' th' lamp cabin. (A37:3-4, man in pit-clothes)
...don't waken th' children, don't waken the children (A37:29, Elizabeth Bates)

(b) omission of definite article
A tram...meaning a little truck such as is used down [ ] pit (A17: 30-31, narrator)
At last they wore the game out, and John demanded "[ ] pit" (A24:9, John via narrator)

IV Negatives

(a) negative particle na attached to auxiliary verb
I canna see (A21:15, John)
I shanna be a minute. Dunna look at th' 'ouse... (A29:21-22, Mrs Rigley)
'Asna 'e come whom yit? ... I dunna think there's owt amiss...(A30:13, 15, Rigley)
...it's no good now, Missis, it isna (A40:23-24, pit manager)

(b) non as negative marker (for standard not)
I dunna think there's owt amiss - 'e's non ower theer, though! (A30:15-16, Rigley)

(c) never as single occasion past tense negative
No, mother, I've never seen him....I never saw him. (A19:7, 8-9, Annie)
...it niver touched 'im (A37:20, man in pit-clothes)
...it never bruised him (A40:14, pit manager)

(d) more than one negative marker (multiple negation)
I can't make the fire do it no faster, can I? (A20:24, Annie)
Jack never said nothink about - about your Mester (A29:7-8, Mrs Rigley)
It wouldna be no bother to me (A31:19, Rigley)

V Plurals

(a) unmarked plural of nouns of measurement after a numeral
Not four foot of space, there wasn't - yet it scarce bruised him. (D303:9-10, pit manager)
I've niver danced for twenty year (Sons and Lovers, 73:26, Morel)
Why, he run that dancing class in the Miners' Arms Club-room for over five year. (Sons and Lovers, 22:1-2, Morels' neighbour)

(b) plural marking of non-count nouns
Let's have our teas, mother, should we? (A19:20, Annie)

VI Preposition on (for standard of), usually before pronouns
...a lot o' stuff come down atop 'n 'im (A37:14-15, man in pit-clothes)
...it fell at th' back on 'im. (A37:19, man in pit-clothes)
Then get out on it [the house] - it's mine. Get out on it.....Then ger out on't - ger out on't! (Sons and Lovers, 33:8, 10, Morel)

VII Pronouns

(a) Personal pronouns
availability of second person singular pronoun thou (for standard you), having forms thou (and reduced form ter), thee, thy, thine, thysen
Are ter comin', Walt? (A30:27, Rigley)
Dunna thee be frettin' now, 'e'll be a' right (A32:19-20, Rigley)
'E wor under th' face, tha sees... (A37:19-20, man in pit-clothes)

(b) Possessive pronoun forms (including when acting as determiners (possessive adjectives))

(i) Why, what children's better looked after than hisn, I sh'd like to know. (Sons and Lovers, 32:17-18, Morel)
Then get out on it [the house] - it's mine...It's my house not thine. (Sons and Lovers, 33: 8, 9, Morel)
We're expectin' us third just now, you see - (Sons and Lovers, 237:17, Barker, quoted by narrator via Mrs Morel's consciousness)

(ii) our as kinship marker
Make haste, our Annie (A20:22-23, John)
Our John, should we play at gipsies? (A23:23, Annie)

(c) Reflexive pronoun forms
...see as th' childer doesn't come downstairs and set theirselves afire (A29:17-18, Mrs Rigley)

(d) Relative pronoun as or what (for standard who, which, that)
Think of that poor little thing as isn't here by six months... (A35:6-7, Grandmother)
'E once had a rabbit what got consumption... (The Merry-go-Round,115:33-34, Mrs Hemstock)

(e) Demonstrative pronoun them (for standard those) (including when acting as determiner (demonstrative adjective))
Ah've said many a time as Ah'd fill up them ruts in this entry... (A32:9-10, Rigley)

VIII Verb forms

(a) present tense han (for standard have), usually when acting as auxiliary verb (contracted form 'n)
Ah'n on'y just got 'em off to bed (A29:22, Mrs Rigley)
"What, han' yer knocked off?" cried Mrs Dakin. "We han, Missis." (Sons and Lovers, 102:27-8, Mrs Dakin and a collier)

(b) forms of present tense with thou/ter etc.
...tha' knows 'is daughter wor married yisterday (A30:21-22, Rigley)
'E wor under th' face, tha sees... (A37:19-20, man in pit-clothes)

(c) forms of past tense of be
...tha' knows 'is daughter wor married yisterday (A30:21-22, Rigley)
Well, it wor this like... 'E wor finishin' a stint... (A37:13, 14, man in pitclothes)
Eh, if I wor but the staunch fourteen stone I used to be. (The Merry-go-Round, 117:32-33, Mrs Hemstock)
He treats you as if you was dirt, an' talks like a chokin' cock - (The Merry-go-Round, 124:11-12, Mr Hemstock)
You was mighty slow, then, once on a day. (The Merry-go-Round, 135:25, Mrs Smalley)

(d) forms of past tense of (standard) irregular verbs
I thought of it [tea] against the crossing, an' I run.... (A18:27, Annie)
...I put my bonnet on an' come straight down to you... (A35:2-3, Grandmother)
...a lot o' stuff come down atop 'n 'im. (A37:14-15, man in pit-clothes)
'E begun drinkin' a bit, an' carryin' on. (The Merry-go-Round, 115:17-18, Mrs Hemstock)

(e) contraction of forms of will, be, have) with full form of negative (not), rather than as won't, isn't, haven't
Eh, he'll not come now till they bring him. (A23:5-6, Elizabeth Bates)
I know he'll not go to work to-morrow after this! (A26:5-6, Elizabeth Bates)
No - he's not [drunk]! He's - he's asleep. (D304:12, Elizabeth Bates)
I've not finished with it - but you can drink with me. (The Merry-go-Round, 136:11-12, The Baker.

(f) omission of are (or possibly were), when acting either as auxiliary or as main verb/copula
Loose-a' 'ad bin gone about ten minutes when we [ ] com'n away... (A30:25-26, Rigley)
...so we [ ] com'n ter th' bottom, me an' Bower... (A31:1, Rigley)
It's a' right - dunna mention it - you [ ] quite welcome! (A32:23, Rigley)

1. Sometimes both standard and non-standard forms may be used in the same extracted example (e.g. Elizabeth Bates's th' children and the children under III(a)). Only non-standard forms are highlighted.
2. More than one kind of non-standard form may be used in an individual example, i.e. in addition to the particular form highlighted. The additional form may, therefore, be shown, and highlighted, under a different heading (e.g. Rigley’s ...many a time as.. under II and …them ruts… under VII(e)).


Pronunciation patterns

Representation of dialect pronunciation in written dialogue is a complex matter, at least partly for reasons of social class difference as mentioned above. Lawrence must balance a desire for authenticity in the 'sound' of his working class characters' speech with the need for reader comprehension and, indeed, tolerance on the part of a predominantly middle class readership. (Hillier 2004:154-5, 165-71 examines the kinds of issues involved and the ways in which one particular writer deals with them). Some indications of local pronunciation are given explicitly in the spelling, but many - indeed some of the most characteristic - pronunciation features are not suggested in the spelling. (This may particularly apply to vowels.)

The following are some of the most significant pronunciation patterns found in the Erewash Valley dialect, compared with those of 'Received Pronunciation' (RP). Examples of relevant words are given, showing some of the ways (if any) in which Lawrence attempts to represent those sounds.

I Consonants

(a) The sound /h/ is not a natural part of the dialect. The basic presumption, therefore, is that it will not be pronounced. There is variation, however, in the way potential (i.e. RP) /h/ words are actually dealt with in the text:

(i) sometimes an apostrophe is used:
'a (A16:1, Father); 'ave, 'er (A17:3, A20:25, John); 'Asn't, 'e, 'ome, 'ad, 'is, 'alf, 'ouse (A29:1, 2, 22, Mrs Rigley); 'Asna, 'e, 'is, 'ad (A30:13, 22, 25, Rigley); 'appen, 'er (A35:5, Grandmother); 'e, 'im, 'ow (A37:3, 26, man in pit-clothes); 'im (A39:28, A40:11, 19, pit manager)

(ii) sometimes no apostrophe is used:
E's just gone for 'alf an 'our afore bed-time... (A29:2, Mrs Rigley)
E's 'appen gone up to th' 'Yew' (A30:18, Mrs Rigley)

(iii) sometimes the letter 'h' is used:
heered, half, he, horsewhipping (A16:7, 8, 15, Father); have, hardly, home (A18:19, A19:1, 2, Annie) hadn't, him, he, here (A35:1, 2, 7, Grandmother); him (A40:11, 12, 13, 14, pit manager)

(iv) sometimes a speaker introduces an 'unnecessary' /h/ sound ('hypercorrects'), often when applied to a stressed item, which is then indicated:
Ah'd a ta'en a hoath as 'e wor just behint...(A31:2-3, Rigley)

(b) suffix '-ing' is pronounced as /In/, where RP would have /Iŋ/.

(i) this is usually represented as -in':
braggin' (A16:7, Father); finishin', comin' (A30:25, 27, Rigley); sittin', tellin' (A34:29, A35:5, Grandmother); bringin' (A36:26, man in pit-clothes)

(ii) though sometimes as '-ing'
running, living, sitting, going (A15:17, 22, 23, 24, Father); crossing (A18:27, Annie); denying, waking, smiling (A36:3, A43:13, Grandmother)

(c) A reduced (or apparently omitted) definite article is usually indicated in speech via use of a glottal stop [ʔ] (not /t/) or perhaps by unvoiced 'th' ([θ]) before a vowel sound. Actual representation is usually via th', but the article may be omitted all together (see III(a) and (b) under 'Grammatical patterns')

II Vowels

(a) /a/ (a short 'a', as in 'bad') is pronounced where RP would have /ɑ:/ (a long 'ah', as in 'bard' or the first syllable of 'father'), in words represented as:
faster (A20:24), past, last (A23:10), glass (A34:29), laugh (A43:26)

(b) /ʊ/ (a short 'oo', as in 'put') is pronounced where RP would have /ʌ/, as in 'putt', in words represented as:
mother (A18:20), nothink (A29:7), doesn't (A29:18), comin' (A30:27), just (A31:3), ruts (A32:10), trouble (A34:8), stuff (A37:15).
(but see sumb'dy (e.g. A32:10) to represent the sound of 'somebody'

(c) [a:] (rather like a lengthened short 'a', as in something like 'baat') is pronounced where RP would have /ɑu/, as in 'bout', in words represented as:
bout (C417:32), down (A19:8), downstairs (A29:18), 'ouse (A29:22)
(but see tha (e.g. A37:20) to represent the sound of 'thou')

(d) [ə] (as in the final syllable of 'father'), for unstressed vowels in words like 'to' and the reduced form of 'thou', is represented as:
...we com'n ter th' bottom... (A31:1), Are ter comin', Walt? (A30:27)

Baron, Helen and Carl Baron, eds, Sons and Lovers. London: Penguin, 1994.
Edwards, V. K., P. Trudgill and B. Weltens, The Grammar of English Dialect: A Survey of Research. London: Economic and Social Science Research Council, 1984. (A detailed listing of non-standard grammatical forms occurring in British dialects of English found in research studies up to 1982, a number of which are identifiable in the Erewash Valley dialect.)
Hillier, Hilary, Fictional narrative in a regional dialect, in Hilary Hillier, Analysing Real Texts: Research Studies in Modern English Language. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004, pp. 145-74 and 243-6. (The text analysed is taken from Our Mam un t'Others, a first-person narrative written and then read aloud by Fred Wetherill, a retired miner, in the persona of a young member of a mining family using the dialect of Kirkby-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, a small town within the Erewash Valley.)
Hillier, Hilary, Matches and mismatches: patterns of THOU and YOU in The Merry-go-Round. Journal of the D H Lawrence Society, 2004-5, pp. 83-102. (Takes different characters' use of the pronouns 'thou' and 'you' as the basis for exploring complex romantic entanglements within a mining community.)
Hillier, Hilary, Community, family, 'Morel': a dialect approach to Sons and Lovers. To appear in the proceedings of the 11th D H Lawrence International Conference, 2007: Return to Eastwood. Nottingham: New Ventures/CCC Press, forthcoming. (Relates dialect use by individual members of the Morel family to the language of the surrounding community, and considers the implications of similarity and difference; includes an Appendix, 'Talking Lawrence': Sons and Lovers.)
Hughes, Arthur, Peter Trudgill and Dominic Watt, English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles, 4th edition. London: Hodder Arnold, 2005. (An invaluable introduction to British dialects: surveys and describes the variety of grammatical and phonological features to be found across the British Isles, a number of which are identifiable in the Erewash Valley dialect.)
Milroy, James and Lesley Milroy, eds, Real English: The Grammar of English Dialects in the British Isles. London: Longman, 1993. (A collection of papers on different aspects of dialect grammar, including historical and social factors in grammatical variation and case studies showing the kinds of grammatical forms found in selected regions of Britain and Ireland; includes an extensive Directory of English Dialect Resources.)
Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech and Jan Svartvik, A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. London: Longman, 1985 (revised edition 1991). (Monumental and indispensable description of the grammar of English, an invaluable aid in the compilation of a taxonomy of the dialect grammar of the Erewash Valley in that it complements and refines, where appropriate, some of the terms used by Edwards et al., op.cit., Hughes et al., op.cit. and Milroy and Milroy, op.cit.)
Schwarze, Hans-Wilhelm and John Worthen, eds, D H Lawrence: The Plays. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.
Trudgill, Peter, The Dialects of England. Oxford: Blackwell, 2nd edition, 1999. (A broad survey of traditional and modern dialects of England identifying major geographical and linguistic regions and sub-regions within them.)


© Hilary Hillier
May 2008

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