The Philology of The Lakeland Dialect.
By the late CANON E. D. ELLWOOD.
Although the following article first appeared in our Journal in 1946, and there have been several theories put forward on the subject in the sixty years since then, it still gives us a scholarly background to the History of our Dialect.
It is reproduced here as a tribute to one of our founders and will provide a basic framework around which we can weave and attach some of the products of more recent research - Editor
This is an endeavour to discover and to specify the various linguistic elements that enter into the constitution of our Lakeland Dialect, and so to discover, so far as is possible, the origins of the form of speech commonly used by our dialect speakers.
The word origins is used as there are several diverse languages that have at various times been spoken in our district and traces of them still appear in the dialect.
Dr. Alexander J. Ellis, formerly President of the Philological Society and a voluminous contributor to the publications of the English Dialect Society has pointed out that dialects, far from being a corruption of our received or literary language are, in fact, the origin from which the literary language is derived, and he tells how he himself spent many years in a prolonged investigation of the dialects of forty two divisions of England and Wales and the Southern part of Scotland, in order to recapture the early pronunciation of what is commonly called the English language.
He regrets, however, that he was obliged to omit the recording of the actual intonation of dialect pronunciation because there was no means of recording it.
He lived before the days of gramophone records — his volume of over a thousand pages on this subject was published: about the year 1875.
His regret about the impossibility of capturing and recording the actual dialect way of talking emphasises the importance of this branch of the work of our Dialect Society and endeavour should be made as soon as possible to have permanent records made; for whilst it is true that dialect speaking is not dying out, yet the genuine free and unsophisticated use of dialect is getting rarer every year.