BYGONE BERKSHIRE Continued 1896
Berkshire Words and Dialect
Casualty is risky, hollies being considered casualty things to plant, while it is often casualty weather in hay-making time. To be in a. ferrick is to be in a fidget, and all of a caddle in a muddle. Heft is weight, and hefty, weighty. ·To poise anything in the hand to test its weight would be to heft it. Overrright is opposite, a word unknown to the aborigines; but what a "Leicestershire mon '' would call over yon, is expressed by his Berkshire compeer as athurt thur, evidently a corruption of athwart there. Overright would, of .course, be originally rightover, and this tendency to put the cart before the horse is common. Droo Wet is always used for wet through. The same ·peculiarity appears else- where, as in breakstuff for breakfast, and even in monosyllables, as hapse for hasp, elapse for clasp, and aks for ask. This last, however, is by no means confined to Berkshire.
Some of the verbs are original, wbile others bear signs of being simply mispronunciations. To quilt is to swallow ; to plim to swell, like rice in the boiling; to huck to dig up, or empty. A man hucks out a gutter or ditch, or simply hucks his potatoes. To tuck is probably originally to pluck, and is applied to dressing the sides of a newly made rick with the hand to make it trim and neat. To kite, or kite up, is to look up sharp or peeringly; while bees are indifferently said to bite or tang. " They do tang I," would seem to preclude any derivation from sting, as it undoubtedly is. To argue is used in its proper sense, and is very common ; but it is always turned into the monosyllable arg.
It is not surprising to find peculiarities in the common objects and customs of everyday life. Thus the eleven o'clock snack under the hedge, known elsewhere as elevenses, is nuncheon; and so it comes to pass that a horse deficient in barrel is spoken of disparagingly as having "no nuncheon bag." A bradawl is a nalpasser, no doubt ''nail passer"; but a gimlet retains its name, and is not called a twinnet, as in some places. A duckut is a small bill hook . for cutting faggots ; while a fag-hook, or fagging-hook, is a crooked stick used instead of the left hand in clearing a bank of nettles, etc., with an iron "hook.'' The new · mown hay is termed eddish, while tedding out hay is spreading it out in the sun after it has been mown. The hay-loft over the stable, often the sleeping place of the Jogger- (forager ), the man who tends the cattle, is called the tallut; the smallest pig in the litter, elsewhere either the''cad" or "darling,'' is invariably the runt; a dog's fangs are tushes, and a bird's claws nippens. In the poultry-yard and pigeon-cote the cock-bird is the tom ; and some of the wild birds have their peculiar names assigned them. Thus the wry neck, or cuckoo's mate, is the pe-pe bird, from its note; a wish wagtail is a dasher; a woodpecker a yaffin,qal ; and the golden plover a whistling dovyer. The little white moth that flits about in the twilight at sundown in the summer months is a rnar·g1'owlet, and the steady, plodding mole, is either a want or a mouldiwarp.
Berkshire stands confessedly at the head of all pig-breeding counties, but that is no reason why the usual call of '' choog, choog, choogy," at feeding time, should be changed to "teg, teg, teggy." The cattle call of coop, coop, is of course a corruption of " come, come "; and coobid, coobiddy, the poultry call of ''come hither."
Tempora mntantur, nos et mutamur in illis.
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