I won't go on for much longer about the destruction of my natal village under the vicious concrete of Telford New Town, but before I leave the subject, let me tell you about the dialect of that area. Today you are more likely to hear Bengali or Punjabi than Dawley dialect, so this might be the last time the latter will get an airing.
Traces of the second person singular - thou-thee-thy-thine - survived. The verb to be shows its Germanic origins, eg, German du bist, Dawley thee bist. Regular phoneme shifts occurred, eg, the /ou/ in "cold" becomes /ow/ "cowd".
The dialect had some unique vocabulary, eg, shommocks for legs (possibly cognate with French jambe?), larrup for beer, jonnock for honest.
Best of all, it had a range of colourful expressions, some of which make a sort of sense, eg, cowd enough for collar studs; others of which defy explanation, eg, as happy as an eight-day corner cupboard.
Along with the expressions came folk wisdom. The best advice you could give a friend who had to visit the police or the income tax office or any other daunting official institution was to tek on theesel soft, meaning, behave as if you were soft, ie, simple-minded.
One expression that has gained wider currency is All round the Wrekin, literally taking the long way round to get somewhere, and often used to describe the behaviour of someone who takes forever to get to the point; equivalent of the more widespread idiom "beat about the bush".
This was moreorless the language of my childhood years, until, after 11, I went to the local Grammar School, where my speech became, for want of a better word, normalised. But, never fear, I can still talk Dawley. The trouble is, like the man who spoke Hittite, there's nobody left to talk to.
Anyway, here is a selection. No translations unless requested!
Ow bist, owd jockey?
Thee cust say what thee't a mind
Shift thee shommocks
Tek on theeself soft
I anna sid im
An any on ya got an onion on ya?
Cowd enough fer collar studs
Cowd enough fer bootlaces
Wur'st bin? Round the back o Notties on a nail
Wur'st bin? Thur an back to see ow far it is.
Gizza a pint a larrup.
Thee'st like a bloke I'm uncle to.
A couple of anecdotes to conclude this obituary notice.
It is said that in the bad old days of poverty and hardship, Dawley women going to buy a sheep's head from the butcher's would say: "Leave the eyes in, it's got to see us through the week"
The pride of Dawley was the Dawley Prize Band. It is said that Dawley people used to put their pig on the wall to watch the Band go by. And there is a story that on one occasion, the Band were playing in the street when a woman from a nearby house came out and asked them to play more quietly as her husband was ill in bed. So they took their boots off and played in their stockinged feet.
And finally, for your language homework, translate the following story, told to me by Timmy Deakin (the one whose sister became Mrs Lennie Price qv): I ad a big yalla farret. One day I put me ond in is cage, and the bugger bet me. But I fonged owd o im and gid im a right cloutin. I tell thee, I made the bugger owk.