English Language & Literature The History of English Language - Britain Assignment:  Take a short text (poem, extract from a novel etc.) that is written in dialectal English (e.g. Scottish,...

English Language & Literature

The History of English Language - Britain

Assignment:  Take a short text (poem, extract from a novel etc.) that is written in dialectal English (e.g. Scottish, Irish, American, Australian, African ...) and highlight those words and/or phrases which are peculiar to that particular dialect, whether in their structure, spelling or pronunciation.

Offer some kind of comment on the language being used (how and why).

Google 'Literature + Dialect' and you'll find ample sources.

Asked on by ft-bh2007

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Known for writing in his native dialect, the Scottish poet Robert Burns skillfully borrowed from the forms and concepts of the earlier Scottish poets Allan Ramsay and Robert Fergusson, as well as unknown composers of folk songs and ballads. Still, Burns gave them all his own individual treatment. One of his talents was his amiable and sympathetic nature toward his fellow man; this genial insight caused his poems to speak to all, especially his countrymen. Moreover, his use of their language further endeared him to his countrymen. Towards women Burns was even more amiable as he had three women whom he claimed he truly loved and others with whom he dallied. The three loves, Burns claimed, were muses for much of his poetry.

One of his poems "A Bottle and a Man" certainly speaks to the heart of a Scotman, and it is demonstrative of his sympathy:

(1)There's nane that's blest of human kind,   
(2)But the cheerful and the gay, man, 
(3)Fal, la, la, &c. 

(4)Here's a bottle and an honest friend! 
(5)What wad ye wish for mair, man? 
(6)Wha kens, before his life may end, 
(7)What his share may be o' care, man? 

(8)Then catch the moments as they fly, 
(9)And use them as ye ought, man: 
(10)Believe me, happiness is shy, 
(11)And comes not aye when sought, man. 

  • Stanza I

In line 1, "nane" is dialect for "none"; "blest" is a form of blessed, used by the English as well.
In line 3, "Fal" is a from of Fa, the note and the sound that people make in order to indicate singing.

  • Stanza II

Line 4 omits the word to which is used in toasts.
Line 5 has the Scottish dialect for "What more would you wish for, man?" The sentence order may simply be archaic, which the English of Burns's time also follows.
Line 6 uses "Wha kens," meaning "Who knows"; ken is yet in modern usage and means knowledge or understanding. e.g. This is beyond my ken.
Line 7 has "o'" for the word of. (This usage is seen in Shakespeare when he needs to eliminate a syllable in a line of iambic pentameter)
Line 9 "ye" means you.
Line 10 "shy" is used to mean rare.
Line 11 "aye" means still or always. This meaning certainly differs from modern usage.

Sources:

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