Lancashire Dialect Prose
Click on the underlined words to link to the articles
Even if it is sometimes obscure, published material from even before the eighteenth century is nearly all written in 'good' English. For example, the work of James Butterworth on the history of Oldham, published in 1817, is almost as easy to read today as when it was written. Charles Dickens is perfectly intelligible today, even if we sometimes sigh at his sentence construction. The truth is, there is very little written in the way that English used to be spoken. Geoffrey Chaucer wrote in the vernacular in the fourteenth century, and a century later Shakespeare used a vernacular style for some of his 'alehouse' characters. During the eighteenth century various Scottish poets wrote in the vernacular, the most famous of whom was the infinitely gifted Robert Burns who influenced Lancashire dialect writers. As a result of the tendency to publish in standard English, most of the indigenous English accents and local vocabulary are lost. This is tragic, because the soul of the people, their hopes and fears, likes and dislikes, their humour and their pathos, is in their pronunciation, vocabulary and the expressions they used.
Here you will find some fine examples of Lancashire dialect prose, starting with Ben Brierley's account of two village chaps facing up to the intimidations of authority in getting the banns read at Manchester cathedral ('Deficient Records').
If you have difficutly with any of the words or expressions, check the Glossary which I have compiled from various sources.
1. Deficient Records - an extract from a story by Ben Brierley - marvellous humour - the locals face up to bureaucracy. 2. An Orderment - a short story by Ammon Wrigley - a touching tale well told. 4. Under Th' Owd Tree - extract from another story by Edwin Waugh - the virtue of Lancashire dialect in a (very small) nutshell. 5. The Convert - a short and very entertaining tale by Tommy Thompson. An insight into the demise of Lancashire dialect. 7. Freetnin' - a few prize lines by Edwin Waugh. 8. Sebastian - an excellent tale by Tommy Thompson about a pig. You'll just love how it all ends! 10. Billy Bump - another tale by Ben Brierley, this time about how a ne'er do well tries to rob a handloom weaver who is returning from his bearin' whoam in Manchester to Oldham. 11. Family History by Word of Mouth - from Tim Bobbin's Tummus and Meary. Tim lets us know what he thinks of the old Lancashire way of naming - such as 'Ned o'Jim' 12. Eawr Sarah's Chap - a charming tale of awkward love, by Charles Allen Clarke aka 'Teddy Ashton'.