Dialect in DRACULA (Bram Stoker)

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josama

Senior Member
Colombia, Spanish
Hi, I just want to ask how difficult is it to understand -for a native speaker- this piece of conversation that I came across when reading Dracula by Bram Stoker. For my being a Spanish speaker it was (and is) quite difficult and can't understand it fully. I guess that it's just a phonetical-transcription attempt by Stoker.

This dialogue (or better monologue) supossedly takes place in Whitby Abbey (UK), near Crescent. The man is an old sailor, and it's in the late nineteenth century.


"It be all fool-talk, lock, stock, and barrel; that's what it be, an' nowt else. These bans an' wafts an' boh-ghosts an' barguests and bogles an' all anent them is only fit to set bairns an' dizzy women a-belderin'. They be nowt but airblebs! They, an' all grims an' signs an' warnin's, be all invented by parsons an' illsome beukbodies an' railway touters to skeer an' scunner hafflin's, an' to get folks to do somethin' that they don't other incline to. It makes me ireful to think o' them..."


And it continues for one or two pages...


Some words I get:

-nowt: nothing?
-skeer: scare?

But others are so obscure to me...

Do you English native speakers find it easy?
 
  • foxfirebrand

    Senior Member
    Southern AE greatly modified by a 1st-generation Scottish-American mother, and growing up abroad.
    This will help you with some of it:

    http://www.ullans.com/ScotsDictionary.html#k

    Googling "lock, stock and barrel" will probably skeer up a few good idiomatic-phrase dictionaries. They make excellent browsing.

    You do have to beware of educated upper-class writers trying to render into dialogue a rant in dialect that might well have been almost as alien to them as it is to you. I'll suspect that if this old sailor could see himself in print he'd cringe the way I do when I hear some movie character spout Dukes-of-Hazzardese.
     

    josama

    Senior Member
    Colombia, Spanish
    foxfirebrand said:
    This will help you with some of it:

    http://www.ullans.com/ScotsDictionary.html#k

    Googling "lock, stock and barrel" will probably skeer up a few good idiomatic-phrase dictionaries. They make excellent browsing.

    You do have to beware of educated upper-class writers trying to render into dialogue a rant in dialect that might well have been almost as alien to them as it is to you. I'll suspect that if this old sailor could see himself in print he'd cringe the way I do when I hear some movie character spout Dukes-of-Hazzardese.
    LOL. I was scared that all my time invested in learning English was in vain... As always, I couldn't be more grateful to you. You're a light of wisdom. BTW, I've also read things like that in Spanish... I hadn't realized this could be the same case.
     

    GenJen54

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    Originally posted by Josama
    Do you English native speakers find it easy?
    This native English speaker does not. I get the gist of it, and can make out much of what is being said, but certain words are completely new.

    airblebs? beukbodies?

    What's worse is that I read Dracula, although that was many, many years ago.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    This native speaker has a particular advantage over others here:)
    Ullans is also known as Ulster Scots.
    In Northern Ireland, many words in common conversation come from this source. I think I have mentioned this here before?
    For fun, I have picked out of the passage some of the words that I think come into this category - without the aid of a safety-net, or a dictionary:

    These bans an' wafts an' boh-ghosts an' barguests and bogles
    These are all different kinds of spooky thing - ending with bogeys (in the spooky-thing sense:eek: )
    anent them
    Beside them
    bairns
    children
    airblebs!
    that should be an air-filled blister
    grims
    another kind of spooky thing
    illsome
    not well-meaning
    beukbodies
    academics, learned people
    skeer
    scare
    scunner
    confuse, frustrate, astonish
    usually in a statement like "I was fair scunnered!!!"
    ireful
    cross

    The point I am making is that many of these words would not be remarked on in normal conversation here, in Scotland and in the North of England.

    You are going to say that of course they would never be used in formal conversation....
    Well, you would be surprised.
    (Rushing off to find the information I need.)

    Edit, found something about it.
    I'm not on my own PC so I can't give you the full text, but not long ago there was an advertisement in our local press for the position of:
    EEKSIE PEEKSIE SKAME HEID YIN

    Now that I have had my fun, I should add that there is much in the passage quoted that I don't understand and it is likely that I have got some of the above wrong:D

    The Ulster- Scots Agency

    The BBC Ulster-Scots pages
     

    Aupick

    Senior Member
    UK, English
    Just for the sake of stirring things up, isn't the dialect in question a Yorkshire dialect? The sailor comes from Whitby, after all, where the novel's set. Some words have become caricatures of the Yorkshire dialect ('You don't get owt for nowt' = You don't get anything for nothing). And didn't Geoffrey Boycott pronounce 'book' and 'look' to rhyme with 'fluke'? (Didn't? Doesn't? Is he still alive? I've been living abroad too long. They don't show cricket on TV in France.) Hence the spelling of 'beukbodies', presumably.

    It's not that I'm trying to contradict Ffb's and Panj's posts: Yorkshire is close to Scotland and the dialects clearly have a lot in common. (Do they belong to the same family?) 'Bairn' for example is a quite well known Scots word, but it also figures in this site about the Yorkshire dialect. This same site mentions Celtic as a key influence on the Yorkshire dialect and I think the 'translations' already given by ffb and Panj are spot on.

    Any Yorkshire residents out there able to shed some light?
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    Aupick said:
    And didn't doesn't Geoffrey Boycott pronounce 'book' and 'look' to rhyme with 'fluke'?
    Oh, doesn't everyone?:) Yes, we do that too.
    (Didn't? Doesn't? Is he still alive? I've been living abroad too long. They don't show cricket on TV in France.)
    Still going strong.
    Hence the spelling of 'beukbodies', presumably.
    Of course.


    Ah, yes, not feeling stirred up at all. I am sure that wherever this stuff came from originally it must have been widespread across northern Britain. The very close contacts with the north of Ireland explain how we came to be included. There are parts of Northern Ireland, especially those closest to Scotland where there used to be thriving fishing communities, where a combination of accent and dialect still makes local speech almost unintelligible:)
     

    josama

    Senior Member
    Colombia, Spanish
    panjandrum said:
    Oh, doesn't everyone?:) Yes, we do that too.[/size]Still going strong.Of course.

    Ah, yes, not feeling stirred up at all. I am sure that wherever this stuff came from originally it must have been widespread across northern Britain. The very close contacts with the north of Ireland explain how we came to be included. There are parts of Northern Ireland, especially those closest to Scotland where there used to be thriving fishing communities, where a combination of accent and dialect still makes local speech almost unintelligible:)
    Thank you all for the discussion. I'm enjoying it much.

    Right now I'm listening to 'Fergus an tha Stane o Destinie' in Ulstèr-Scotch. It sounds beautiful, although I can't understand anything.
     

    panjandrum

    Lapsed Moderator
    English-Ireland (top end)
    modgirl said:
    Oh là là, this sounds a bit risqué! ;)



    Perhaps - but it is really quite boring.
    The Eeksie-Peeksie Skame Heid-yin job was also advertised in Irish (I don't have that version) and in English (in 1999).
    The English version was seeking an Equality Schemes Manager.
     

    Vanda

    Moderesa de Beagá
    Português/ Brasil
    "I pronounce you guys guilty!" (by the way is this expression correct?)

    I had to open a dozen new files to store in places I can easily find all these info, usage, slangs, dialects, etc, you profusely provide us in here!
    :p
     

    DanPL

    New Member
    English - Australian
    I realise this thread is over a decade old, but you can find a bunch of words from the Whitby dialect of the time in the English Dialect Dictionary, digitised here: EDDOnline English Dialect Dictionary - Using Conditions

    You'll have better luck searching full text than headwords. But look up "barghest" for instance.

    It's especially cool because Joseph Wright who compiled the dictionary was roughly contemporary with Stoker and grew up in Yorkshire.
     
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