Skeat's English Dialects
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A friend that runs a used book store gave me a thin volume, English Dialects from the Eighth Century to the Present Day by W. W. Skeat. It's only about 140 pages, but most of it deals with the major dialects of Old English, which is what I'm interested in. Unfortunately I ended up being more frustrated than anything since Skeat gives only a brief overview of each of the major dialects without much details on actual structure and development. On the positive side, I did like all the references to texts that have been published (before 1911) -- I have a much better idea of what is available and what isn't.
-- This book was published in 1912. Is there a more recent and thorough book on the dialects of Old English?
-- Are there any grammars on the dialects?
-- BTW, what is the standard grammar for Old English now?
I'll be watching your project with interest - I'm not fascinated by Old English, but English dialects in general are an interest of mine.
I'm going to have to dig out my Old English grammars and start through them. From poking around, it seems the only way for me to look at the dialects is to know the West Saxon one very well and really do my own comparison.
But then at some point I would also like to look at the origin of Old English to begin with.
"English is the result of Norman men-at-arms attempting to pick up Saxon barmaids and is no more legitimate than any of the other results." - H. Beam Piper
I grew up with Nicol Williamson's audiobook of The Hobbit, in which each group/race had a different English regional accent. I don't know for certain what any of them are (I _think_ the trolls speak Yorkshire...) but as an exposure to different dialects it was fantastic. It's on YouTube, or on Nicol's site - public domain, by his choice.
Hmmm, I should integrate Nicol's audiobook with that tour of dialects, and figure out who speaks what.
Love Williamson's idea! It's unlikely I'll find the time to actually listen, but a fabulous concept and probably adds a layer of humour when identifying which dialect is selected for which race. Wish he would comment on his thinking behind his various choices, though. That would be as edifying and interesting as hearing the audiobook.
On that video it is hard to judge his accents because in most of them he only says one or two words, maybe a sentence for some.
I can comment on his Cambs / Norfolk accent - which wasn't all that good IMO but he only said one word in each. I also think he was incorrect to say that Cockney is based on East Anglian. Influenced by the general East Anglian group, yes, based on, no.
He also doesn't use any dialect words or grammar. So he tries a Norfolk accent, but doesn't try to do Broad Norfolk (the Norfolk dialect).
For Norfolk one could do worse than listen to The Nimmo Twins (a comedy duo) - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jcNHSQttUq4
As for Cambridgeshire - it doesn't really have one accent that can stand in. The accent of the fens (in the North) is totally different to that of the south of the county. There is also a big urban vs rural difference (especially with Cambridge itself).
My suggestion is that if you don't already have a grounding in German, you'll find OE very, very difficult.
One site I find interesting is Oxford's Woruldhord. Putting 'audio' into the search field produces sound clips.