Jennifer Reid, a performer of 19thC Industrial Revolution broadside ballads and Lancashire dialect work song, tells us about the first two meetings of the Lancashire Dialect Reading Group. If you’d like to be part of this group that is dedicated to preserving, reading and writing the Lancashire dialect, see details of further sessions at the bottom of this blog…
In the future, some of us will be able to say, “we were there when it all began….”
Well, in this case, five of us will be able to. The first official meeting of the Lancashire Dialect Reading Group took place at Booth’s Café in Barrowford last week! I prepared as best I could – in emails I asked everyone to tell me their interests around the dialect and what experience they have had with it – and it went off without a hitch! Valerie, Sue and Ann had attended an introductory talk of mine so I recognised them and another lady named Emma came to join us. We had some engaging discussions about the etymology of words and place names and a chat about Tim Bobbin’s head!
We started with some simple words from the 1895 Lancashire dictionary put together by Nodal. I decided to focus on ‘agate’ and the ‘a’ prefix in general that goes ahead of ‘awhoam’, as this is still part of our spoken language today.
From there I photocopied some of the introduction to Frank Ormerod’s Lancashire Life and Character, which mentions the Anglo Saxon links to Lancashire dialect words and concepts like ‘Bill O Bents’ for names. Lots of contemporary dialect writers like to give themselves a ‘____ O ____’ name to chime in with the tradition.
After all those hand-outs, it was time for dinner and we had a little break to chat and process what we’d read. Emma told us a fantastic story about a garden gnome her mother had that ended up being a clay sculpture of John Collier’s head – she found this out by visiting Touchstones in Rochdale and seeing a similar one behind the glass she proudly proclaimed she had one of those in her garden, to the utter shock of the curator! She has now rescued him from outside and he occupies pride of place on her mantelpiece.
Suitably recharged, we read a poem called Owdham which shows how some of the words from the dictionary are used. We also read Come Whoam to thi’ Childer an’ Me by Edwin Waugh and Settlin Th’ War by Williffe Cunliam, tackling any chewy or more awkward dialect words we encountered.
The second session on Monday 16th March was attended by Geoff, Ann, Dorothy and Emma. We discussed the same poems and words as the first session and this meeting went in a totally different direction! There was more focus on pronunciation and how we tie that to the places we have lived in and our experiences. Again, such an enriching and productive session.
In the current circumstances I will be moving the sessions online, at least for a while, which means that details of the scheduled meetings for 30th March, 6th April and 20th April will be emailed to people already on the group’s mailing list.
If you are interested in joining the group please email MPA and let them know you are happy for them to share your information with me. I can then get in touch with you and tell you how to join in.
PS – If Emma from the group is reading this, I need your email address to keep you in the loop. Please send it to MPA (see link above).