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Work with the texts: A dialect approach

The grammatical and pronunciation features presented in 'Talking Lawrence', together with the footnotes provided in Episodes 3 and 4 and supporting references, form a framework for investigating how Lawrence uses the Erewash Valley dialect in 'Odour of Chrysanthemums'.

The following represent questions which can be explored using this framework:

  1. How do the various characters in the story relate to the specifically working-class environment in which they live?
    How far does the allocation of dialect features to specific characters help to support your judgements?

  2. What are Elizabeth Bates's feelings about the mining community and her place in it?
    How far are these indicated in her attitude to the language of the community, particularly as expressed to her children in Episode 3?
    How consistent is Elizabeth Bates's linguistic register (her choice of language in particular circumstances)? What does this tell us about her character?

  3. Analyse/Examine in detail a particular interaction in the story, for example involving Elizabeth Bates and:
    (a) her father in Episode 2;
    (b) Mr and/or Mrs Rigley in Episode 4;
    (c) her mother-in-law in Episode 5;
    (d) the pitmen who bring home the body in Episode 6.
    How does Lawrence indicate the degree of sympathy and/or familiarity between the various characters portrayed? How might specific dialect choices reinforce this impression?

  4. Select one or more dialect features and examine in detail how a particular feature appears to be used by a specific character in a given context. Features which might be investigated include:
    (a) choice of second person pronoun you or thou;
    (b) reduction of definite article the to th';
    (c) (representation of) suffix '-ing' as -in;
    (d) (representation of) non-pronunciation of /h/, with or without an apostrophe.
    Who is speaking, who is being addressed and in what circumstances? Does this appear to be the speaker's usual mode of speaking? What might a particular choice suggest?

  5. Select a particular interaction and/or dialect feature and trace specific changes made across versions, comparing the effects of the different versions.
    An interesting change occurs, for example, when Rigley attempts to comfort Elizabeth Bates in Episode 4. In Version A (A32:19-20) this appears as: Dunna thee be frettin' now, 'e'll be a' right, which in Version C (C424:40-41) becomes: Dunna thee be frettin' now, 'e'll be all right, and in Version D (D296:10-11): Dunna you be frettin' now, 'e'll be all right. The effects of the change from thee to you can be considered alongside Rigley's choices for second person address to Elizabeth Bates elsewhere, as well as to other characters, and in all three versions.

© Hilary Hillier
May 2008

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