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~ Dialect ~
The local dialect differs in many of the towns and regions of the Black Country, Gornal is no exception, the local 'spake' is quite distinct and usually bewildering to 'furreners' -foreigners e.g. those not 'of Gornal' and then again from outside of the Black Country it's probably quite incomprehensible!
Gornal's Saxon origins teeter just below the surface in local 'spake', the vowel 'a' often replaced by 'o', and 'e' by 'a' but no rule seems to apply - just on a whim it seems.
The use of 'en or 'un' on the end of words is widely used and another throwback from Saxon times.
See The Gornal Dictionary for some examples and the humour page.
Various attempts have been made to transcribe the dialect on paper, and reading it can prove more difficult than trying to understand the spoken word.
The only real way is to hear the locals 'spaking' among themselves, and try and follow a conversation if you dare!
'Gornal Joe'Letters were published in the 1920s from 'Gornal Joe', which samples his Gornal dialect at that time.
The letters caused some confusion and amusement, his wise but 'as spoken' commentary in the Cannock Chase Courier caused quite a stir.
I am not sure of Joe's identity, possibly Joseph Timmins (see later), but he definately was a miner from Gornal and worked in the Cannock coalfields.
Here are some extracts from one of Gornal Joe's letters to the 'Heditor', published in the Courier in 1920, his letter originally transcribed by the Courier and the text followed faithfully here.
In the letter he discusses among other things, Gornal beer.
"... Wen i rote befour yo printed my letters foken loffed. They loffs at me spellin, and they loffs at me gramma, un they lofft at wot I sed, and they sed its ony ode Joe agen.
Un yo knowne where he coms from Gornal, the plase weer the sond donkeys commin from. Well, the sond asses un very neer all gon, but Joe's beer un like the ode fokes usen to see wen ritin to any bodi....
... I now tak up my pen to rite a fue lines to yo hopin they wun fine yo quite well, as they leven me at presunt, thank God for it ..."
Joe goes on to lament the strength of ale....
Dun yo kno Mr Hedditer, ears agoo the wimmen usen to tak tubs on there yeds un goo to the publikousen and fatch a tub a beer wen the publikuns ud bin brewin, un the wimmin ud put summut in it un mak a drink on it fit fur ony mon to drink.
Now they gun to a publikhowse an bringin a drap in a dokter's bottle reddy for the mon wen he coms from work, un wen its stud a bit it is to week to run out uth the bottle, un the quantite is soo small that befour the fust lot drops in the bottum the last lot us started down, an they callin that drinkin.
Wy mon, it inner a noff to wet yore honds if yo was to spit on um to begin to shuvel. It maks a mon loff, it inner a noff to wet the feet uv the kitten, much less Pussyfoot Johnson, un they tellin me now as Pussyfoot has gon to a Mericky, but more kats un kittens un popped on the wall un we can expect the yowels to begin sune. But that dunna anser the queshjun. Weers the good aleal gon to? They sen good wayter maks good aleal. Well, there's plenty a good wayter comin out uth the ski, soo we adner ort to be soo boone dri any wee.
Now oows fort is it that ween got wat one payper calls a lickwid flewid at 8 pince a pint, un if a mon was to get as much inside him as the wimmin usen to carry on their yeds, the only difference it ud mak to him, he'd av moore to carry. If he rocks it ud be the wayter, not the halcohal wots in him.
The pollytikans usen to shout 9 pince for four pince. The publikans cun soon shout a pennurth for nine pince. The teatotuls sen we wanten a sober nashun. They'n got it, coss they seen there's moore halcohol in pop un there is in beer, un who ivver heerd uv a teatotaller gettin drunk on pop eh. Ive crossed the pons assin orum with the Gornal donkeys, soo I know ow to ax a queshjun er too. There's queshjuns nashunul, soshul, temprul, spiritiul, un mony a noother. As ine forgot too be thort aboot in theer turn, soo if yo puttin theens in ine bound to send sum moore, cos weem gotten to mak a knew world outen a nodun. So ween gotten a big job to mak shoddy as gud as knew; wee anner got to do any gommerking yo knowin, no fun but a strait goo. An yo kun depen on theer best hus got from Gornal Joe."
['Pussyfoot Johnson' - William E. Johnson, an American Prohibition advocate.]
An earlier 'Gornal Joe', Joseph Timmins, also a miner from Gornal who worked in the Cannock coalfields for most of his adult life, this is a bit of a mystery -was this the same man and letters published later?
Joseph Timmins obituary in 1912 describes him as an interesting local personality, he lived in Hednesford, Staffs with his wife Maria.
Joseph was killed in a mining accident at the Cannock and Rugeley Colliery, age 61 years, this was several years before the published letters.
A popular little ditty among the Gornalites, this - the first verse found in a local newspaper of 1927:-
"Ah yowsed ter be as 'appy as the little lambs at play
And as blithely as the little birds abov
But now th'm broken 'arted cost ah've lost the girl ah luv
Wie some swell from town her's lertley gone away"
Now there is much integration, and the accent has become diluted and infused with other Black Country dialect and that of the modern idiom but some of the 'owd uns' retain the strong accent and dialect.
'ah bin yah ah kid