goes back to his home town of Wigton in Cumbria to see how English
is developing - and how dialects are still spoken. He meets
townspeople from all generations and walks of life, from octogenarian
horse dealer Tommy Miller to local poet Mary Haslam.
Wigton, home to 5000
people, is about ten miles south of Carlisle. It's surrounded
by farms and is still essentially part of the farming landscape
that has been its destiny for a thousand years or more. Over
those thousand years, Wigton has soaked up the talk of invaders,
settlers and travellers to produce a rich loam of local language
- as you can hear in the sound clips below.
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83, a horse dealer and a true Wigtonian, discusses the way the
Modern English at the University of Leeds and a specialist in
the dialectal history of England, Katie Wales talks about the
history of northern dialects.
The spoken English
of Wigton is directly related to Old Norse, says Dr William
Rollinson, lecturer at Liverpool Institute of Continuing Education
and author of The Cumbrian Dictionary.
has been selling shoes in King Street for as long as most Wigtonians
can remember (and his father before him)and now his own son
George also serves behind the counter of the busy shop. Here
they consider the generational differences in the way they speak.
dialect remains today
Down at the UCB
plastics factory, the idea of 'belonging' and 'home' embraces
factories across Europe and the world. For these men on the
line, to talk broad is old-fashioned, but notice how they still
quite unselfconsciously say 'till' for 'to' - 'when they're
talking till each other'.
of my accent
Mary Heslam is
a sheep farmer, with her husband William, on the edge of Wigton.
Mary is another language enthusiast from the town and in her
spare time she likes to write a regular column for the local
newspaper and the occasional poem. She was stirred to compose
this one by someone she met who thought the way Wigton people
speak was - well - rather quaint.