A robust, educated, 100-year-old reprimand for people who decry the use of Cumberland dialect!

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Another visit to Keswick Books (antiquarian book sellers) on Station Street, two days ago, turned up a Cumbrian dialect book I’d never heard of before but which I will now refer to frequently: A grammar of the Dialect of Lorton (Cumberland), Historical and Descriptive, With an Appendix on the Scandinavian Element, Dialect Specimens and a Glossary, by Borje Briliothe (PhD)…. How about that for a catchy title!

It is the aforementioned “Scandinavian element” that was of particular interest to me but the book, which is dated 1913 in the Preface, came with an additional bonus:  a newspaper clipping – regrettably not dated but perhaps from around 1950 – of a letter from Professor Briliothe, about the merits of the Cumberland dialect.  Here is an excerpt:

Letter from Sweden

TO THE EDITOR OF THE “NEWS”

Sir – Permit me to say a few words in reply to Tom Horrocks’ surprising attack on the Cumberland dialect printed in your paper.  R. Denwood and “Copeland” have already given excellent replies but as a student of the Cumberland dialect and as a fervent friend of the Cumberland people I would like to add a few words.

Mr. Horrocks’ assault is based on the most complete ignorance of what a dialect is and of the origin of the Cumberland dialect in particular.  He might just as well advocate the demolition of historic monuments or ancient buildings.  The Cumberland dialect is one of the most interesting, and, from a philological point of view, one of the most valuable sources of research of the philologists.  It represents to a great extent the ancient language spoken in the north of England and contains especially a rich element of Scandinavian loan-words introduced by the Vikings more than 1,000 years ago.

It is at the same time terse and expressive and reflects in a remarkable manner the staunch and fine character of the Cumbrian people….

The delightful and memorable months I was privileged to spend in beautiful Cumberland and amongst my Cumbrian friends belong to the most charming memories of my life.  I know that Mr. Horrocks’ regrettable attack on his native dialect, entirely unwarranted as it is, must be a blow in the face of every good Cumbrian.  It has been so to me, and I sincerely hope that those Cumbrian patriots who have undertaken the fine work of upholding and preserving their native tongue and the ancient and fine traditions and culture of Cumberland will keep up their good work.

BORJE BRILIOTH, Ph.D., Stockholm, Sweden.

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A significant section of this website is devoted to Cumbrian dialects and the Lakeland dialect, including a large glossary of word meanings.  View it here.

Great fun, signing and selling books at a Christmas Fair in Aspatria

Just after I arrived at the Community Centre, yesterday, I was delighted to have a long chat with Mary Bragg of Cockermouth, who had just finished reading my new novel – ‘My Cup Runneth Over’ – on Kindle, the evening before, and who was wonderfully complimentary about it. Thank you, Mary

I confess that I also sold more books than I had dared anticipate, so that was very pleasing, too.

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Eddie Wren (alias Steve Shearwater), L, and Peter Reece

Then Peter Reece – one of my former colleagues in crime (fighting!) – appeared, following his own grin into the room, and when I wasn’t busy with people at my little sales’ table, we naturally had great fun swapping old ‘war stories’. (I’m the one on the left, in the photo, and Peter would tell you he’s the better-looking one, on the right!)

Incidentally, the little town is pronounced “Sp’yatri,” in Cumberland dialect but gets its proper name from ‘Ash Patrick’, after the famous saint preached there in the Fifth Century.  Another Cumbrian place name that comes from the saint is Patterdale – Patrick’s dale – at Ullswater.

Interestingly, despite its small size, both Peter and I worked at Aspatria years ago, during our respective police careers.

All told, the Fair provided a wonderful afternoon. My sincere thanks to the organisers.