Tag Archives: Stella Gibbons

Do wot mate?

Re-reading Stella Gibbons’s masterly Cold Comfort Farm, I was struck by the richness, not to say¬† ‘foreignness’ – of the English spoken down in darkest Sussex:

Gibbons is enjoying herself! Nevertheless, it seems likely that the English she captures was actually prevalent in parts of rural England as recently as the ’30s (when the story is set). I think it extremely unlikely that much of it survives today, after nearly a century of the levelling powers of radio and, more particularly, television.

Arguably communication will be the gainer – clarity and character are often, sadly, at odds – but it does seem rather a shame. You can’t help but wonder how much regional dialect will survive, say another century, or whether we will all, by 2120, be conversing (if not in Mandarin) in a flavourless if functional mid-Atlantic commodity-English. Or, to put it another way, American.

(Staggering typo-count, in passing – three in just that one para, for example – so much so, that I was moved to make a little YouTube vid about it.)