Books Should Be Free is now
Loyal Books
Free Public Domain Audiobooks & eBook Downloads
Search by: Title, Author or Keyword

English Dialects From the Eighth Century to the Present Day   By: (1835-1912)

Book cover

First Page:

{Transcriber's Note:

All square brackets [] are from the original text. Braces {} ("curly brackets") are supplied by the transcriber.

Characters that could not be fully expressed are "unpacked" and shown within braces, top to bottom: {oe} oe ligature {)o} o with breve (short vowel sign) }

CAMBRIDGE UNIVERSITY PRESS London: Fetter Lane, E.C. C. F. CLAY, Manager

{Illustration: Coat of Arms}

Edinburgh: 100, Princes Street Berlin: A. Asher and Co. Leipzig: F.A. Brockhaus New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons Bombay and Calcutta: Macmillan and Co., Ltd

All rights reserved

{Illustration: Decorative Title Page encompassing all text from "English Dialects" through "1912"}


From the Eighth Century to the Present Day

by the

REV. WALTER W. SKEAT, Litt.D., D.C.L., LL.D., Ph.D., F.B.A. Elrington and Bosworth Professor of Anglo Saxon and Fel low of Christ's College. Founder and formerly Director of the English Dialect Society

"English in the native garb;" K. Henry V. V. 1. 80

Cambridge at the University Press 1912

With the exception of the coat of arms at the foot, the design on the title page is a reproduction of one used by the earliest known Cambridge printer, John Siberch, 1521

First Edition 1911. Reprinted 1912.


The following brief sketch is an attempt to present, in a popular form, the history of our English dialects, from the eighth century to the present day. The evidence, which is necessarily somewhat imperfect, goes to show that the older dialects appear to have been few in number, each being tolerably uniform over a wide area; and that the rather numerous dialects of the present day were gradually developed by the breaking up of the older groups into subdialects. This is especially true of the old Northumbrian dialect, in which the speech of Aberdeen was hardly distinguishable from that of Yorkshire, down to the end of the fourteenth century; soon after which date, the use of it for literary purposes survived in Scotland only. The chief literary dialect, in the earliest period, was Northumbrian or "Anglian," down to the middle of the ninth century. After that time our literature was mostly in the Southern or Wessex dialect, commonly called "Anglo Saxon," the dominion of which lasted down to the early years of the thirteenth century, when the East Midland dialect surely but gradually rose to pre eminence, and has now become the speech of the empire. Towards this result the two great universities contributed not a little. I proceed to discuss the foreign elements found in our dialects, the chief being Scandinavian and French. The influence of the former has long been acknowledged; a due recognition of the importance of the latter has yet to come. In conclusion, I give some selected specimens of the use of the modern dialects.

I beg leave to thank my friend Mr P. Giles, M.A., Hon. LL.D. of Aberdeen, and University Reader in Comparative Philology, for a few hints and for kindly advice.

W. W. S.


3 March 1911



I. DIALECTS AND THEIR VALUE. The meaning of dialect . Phonetic decay and dialectic regeneration. The words twenty , madam , alms . Keats; use of awfully . Tennyson and Ben Jonson; use of flittermouse . Shakespeare; use of bolter and child . Sir W. Scott; use of eme ... Continue reading book >>

eBook Downloads
ePUB eBook
• iBooks for iPhone and iPad
• Nook
• Sony Reader
Kindle eBook
• Mobi file format for Kindle
Read eBook
• Load eBook in browser
Text File eBook
• Computers
• Windows
• Mac

Review this book

Popular Genres
More Genres
Paid Books