Saturday, 2 August 2014

Devon Vernacular

I bought a few copies - old ones from the 1940s and 1950s - of The Countryman recently.  I love them for some of the obscure stories and reports they carry.  Here is a wonderful piece of "Devon-speak" which appeared in the Spring 1948 copy of the magazine:

"I'll baste thy hide vur thee ef thee dissent come into th'ouse dreckly minit!" exclaimed the old lady to her five-year-old grandson.  "What with yurr mumbudgetting an' trapsying roun' th' drange-way, yu'll be rinnedaver."  When she caught sight of me, she crooned, "Aw, me dear sawl, how 'ee be grawn zince I zeed 'ee last!  Come in an' zit yezelf down, midear!"  Little Archie followed us into the cottage where a fire burned cheerfully in the "bodley".  Giving the boy a playful clip over the head, his grandmother said, "It vair makes me bivver to zee littul Arch, the way 'e du love a drap o' dirt.  'E's wors'n 'is farthur were at 'is age.  An' 'ave 'e zeed 'Aryot Webb's littul maid zince 'er comed back vrom schule?" she rambled on.  "'Er's a praper maid right enuv.  'T'ath adued 'er gude gwaine away."

I love to think of my Devon ancestors talking like this.  Dad never did - he always had a nice speaking voice without any Devon accent, but he used to tell me about t'owd bwoys up on't moor, who said thee and thou like they had done for centuries . . .


  1. Brilliant! I know one guy here who was our neighbour for some years, who is completely incomprehensible, but reading sounds very familiar. He's 93 now. I just nod and smile politely but wish I understood him!

  2. Lovely header photo today and wonderful post !

    cheers, parsnip

  3. Fascinating, I wonder if the written word, and then realised as I write, that you just put down the sound you heard so accuracy in transcription is out of the window!

  4. Thanks for sharing this is brilliant, in this world wide age it's a terrible shame dialects are being lost.

  5. It was lovely seeing your pictures of Manorbier and remembering the day we went there together :D

    The Devon venacular is very similar to the 'ampshire accent. My farrier speaks like this and it makes me giggle sometimes.

  6. Reading some TH novels they use a little of this accent and I love it. Accents and use of local dialects are great, having moved around a lot, from Yorkshire to Devon I've heard a lot of different things.