Lancashire accent - according to DH Lawrence

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mariana79

Senior Member
Turkish
Hi
I am reading The Lost girl by D.H Lawrence, there is a tipsy woman from Lancashire, she owns a rooming-house where Alvina, the heroine, is staying. The woman is asking her for more money on account of the man she has an affair with. But the whole thing is so in dialect I have difficulty understanding it.
She says:

"Nay, lass," said the woman, "if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, you mun split it. Five shillin's is oceans, ma wench. I'm not down on you—not me. On'y we've got to keep up appearances a bit, you know. Dash my rags, it's a caution!"

how do you put the whole thing in standard English?
 
  • manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    how do you put the whole thing in standard English?
    Well, that's easy, innit? You ask a lad o' wench from Lancashire... :D

    I can get you started with the easy part:
    "Nay, lass," said the woman, "if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, you mun split it. Five shillin's is oceans, ma wench.

    "No, girl," said the woman, "if you never share a drop of the 'plenty', your man split it. Five shillings is oceans {i.e. is a lot}, my woman".

    My friend told me that 'lashins' means 'plenty' and it makes sense here, but I don't know the origins of that.
    My assumption that "you mun split it" means "your man split it" is just a guess and it might be wrong. Better wait for native lads or wenches! ;)
     

    aceofpace

    Senior Member
    English (American)
    I'll take a shot as well but this is only speculative: If you have wealth you must share it. Even five shillings is a lot. I'm not being critical on you, not me. We must keep a clean appearance, you know. I need to get rid of my rags. It's a warning.

    I bet manfy is more accurate on the first sentence.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, you mun split it.
    The woman is saying that one must be generous. We need to share what comes our way - ie. Alvina has offered too much.

    You mun split it
    - you must split it - Alvina gave her half a sovereign (50% of £1 = 10 shillings). The woman is saying that is too much, the sum must be split. Even five shillings is a lot, but Alvina hasn't got a five-shilling piece, so the woman suggests half a crown (two and a half shillings) immediately and that Alvina pays the other half crown the next day.

    I'm not down on you—not me. On'y we've got to keep up appearances a bit, you know. Dash my rags, it's a caution!"

    I've got nothing against you (I'm not charging you much), but we have to charge a little to prevent rough types coming here. Look at how cheaply I'm dressed; one has to be careful not to charge too little.


    Bits of this are speculative, but the overall sense is clear: the woman is well disposed towards Alvina, but concerned about the reputation of her house.
     
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    se16teddy

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think “dash my rags” is just a minced oath (for something like “dammit”) and does not suggest that the woman is wearing, or owns, rags. If you Google “dash my rags” you’ll find lots of examples. Minced oath - Wikipedia

    I suppose that “lashings” refers to the issue (discussed a little earlier in the story) that the “wench” doesn’t drink and so never shares any booze with the landlady.
     
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    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    I think “dash my rags” is just a minced oath (for something like “dammit”) and does not suggest that the woman is wearing, or owns, rags. If you Google “dash my rags” you’ll find lots of examples.
    Yes, of course, Teddy, but expressions like 'Dang me buttons' take on special significance when one is wearing bright buttons. The woman is described in a subsequent paragraph as wearing a 'dirty apron'.

    'Rags' is also a slang generic term for clothes, as you know.

    Where is Mr E when we need him?
     

    Hermione Golightly

    Senior Member
    British English
    The landlady is making Alvina pay her more rent for having her lover in her room. Alvina offers half-a-crown but the woman wants a crown, five shillings.
    I get the impression the landlady thinks Alvina might be getting paid, that is, prostituting herself. Maybe that's what she means by the 'lashings', which is colloquial for 'lots of', unless it has some very special meaning.
    It's a form of blackmail. If the place was at all decent, Alvira would have been thrown out and her reputation ruined.
    We know what sort of woman the landlady is by her offering Alvina drink.

    Please give us some context and tell us the chapter.
     

    mariana79

    Senior Member
    Turkish
    All I can offer is that 'mun' means 'must'. ' . . . you must split it'.


    Crossed with aceofpace, whose suggestion looks pretty good to me.
    So did I. the only thing I was sure was Mun :)

    if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, you mun split it.
    The woman is saying that one must be generous. We need to share what comes our way - ie. Alvina has offered too much.

    You mun split it
    - you must split it - Alvina gave her half a sovereign (50% of £1 = 10 shillings). The woman is saying that is too much, the sum must be split. Even five shillings is a lot, but Alvina hasn't got a five-shilling piece, so the woman suggests half a crown (two and a half shillings) immediately and that Alvina pays the other half crown the next day.

    I'm not down on you—not me. On'y we've got to keep up appearances a bit, you know. Dash my rags, it's a caution!"

    I've got nothing against you (I'm not charging you much), but we have to charge a little to prevent rough types coming here. Look at how cheaply I'm dressed; one has to be careful not to charge too little.


    Bits of this are speculative, but the overall sense is clear: the woman is well disposed towards Alvina, but concerned about the reputation of her house.
    Thank you so much. I had thought exactly opposite. I thought the woman is asking too much. Thanks.:)

    I think “dash my rags” is just a minced oath (for something like “dammit”) and does not suggest that the woman is wearing, or owns, rags. If you Google “dash my rags” you’ll find lots of examples. Minced oath - Wikipedia

    I suppose that “lashings” refers to the issue (dicussed a little earlier in the story) that the “wench” doesn’t drink and so never shares any booze with the landlady.
    I had the same idea about dash my rags. I think it is an oath too. :)

    The landlady is making Alvina pay her more rent for having her lover in her room. Alvina offers half-a-crown but the woman wants a crown, five shillings.
    I get the impression the landlady thinks Alvina might be getting paid, that is, prostituting herself. Maybe that's what she means by the 'lashings', which is colloquial for 'lots of', unless it has some very special meaning.
    It's a form of blackmail. If the place was at all decent, Alvira would have been thrown out and her reputation ruined.
    We know what sort of woman the landlady is by her offering Alvina drink.

    Please give us some context and tell us the chapter.
    It is chapter 9, where Alvina leaves home after her father's death, to stay with the Nachas and starts an affair with an Italian actor whom she has fallen in love. So Hermione, you think the woman asks for more money? I thought Alvina pays her more than she asked.
     
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    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    Now that I've had time to read through the passage, I agree with se16teddy that 'lashings' appears to be drink, which Alvina doesn't accept.

    Alvina offers ten shillings.
    The landlady says no, since you never accept any of my drink, I'll only take half of it. Five shillings is plenty.

    Perhaps if Alvina did drink, the landlady might have taken the half-sovereign as payment for the drink as well.

    Has anyone translated 'it's a caution'? After being offered a half-sovereign, the landlady is friendly towards Alvina, so I cannot see how it could mean 'warning'.
     

    Thomas Tompion

    Senior Member
    English - England
    Now that I've had time to read through the passage, I agree with se16teddy that 'lashings' appears to be drink, which Alvina doesn't accept.

    Alvina offers ten shillings.
    The landlady says no, since you never accept any of my drink, I'll only take half of it. Five shillings is plenty.

    Perhaps if Alvina did drink, the landlady might have taken the half-sovereign as payment for the drink as well.

    Has anyone translated 'it's a caution'? After being offered a half-sovereign, the landlady is friendly towards Alvina, so I cannot see how it could mean 'warning'.
    No, it's generalised, surely. I translated it earlier as 'One has to be careful'. I see the point as being that the landlady looks at her modest clothes and the bedraggled state of the house and says that they are a warning to her not to be too generous to her guests. I don't see that the remark is in any way aggressive towards Alvina.

    I agree with you about lashings referring to drink.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, -> if you don't take any of my drink
    you mun split it. -> you should halve it.
    Five shillin's is oceans, ma wench.
    -> five shillings is ample/would be generous, my girl
    I'm not down on you—not me. -> I'm not angry or disapproving of you - No, I'm not.
    On'y we've got to keep up appearances a bit, you know. -> Except, we have to at least appear to be respectable - I think you can understand why that would be.
    Dash my rags, it's a caution!" Well! Damn me! This is an amazing thing.
     

    Linkway

    Senior Member
    British English
    Has anyone translated 'it's a caution'? After being offered a half-sovereign, the landlady is friendly towards Alvina, so I cannot see how it could mean 'warning'.
    In the context of rented accommodation, "a caution" is an old-fashioned term for a sum of money that was paid by the tenant to the accommodation provider as a sort of "security deposit" in case of minor damage such as glass breakages, mattress staining, furniture scratching, excessive laundry, etc. THe money would be returned if there was no "damage".

    Whether the "caution" could also be withheld for other infractions (such as excessive noise, failing to be in doors by a certain time at night, damage to reputation, etc), I don't know.

    Whether this meaning is applicable in the quoted context, I don't know, but clearly if the woman often had a man in her room, the landlady was right to be concerned! :)
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Hi
    I am reading The Lost girl by D.H Lawrence, there is a tipsy woman from Lancashire
    In fact, a page earlier, the book says:
    "As she was busy washing a garment in the bowl, her landlady knocked and entered. She was a rough and rather beery-looking Yorkshire woman, not attractive." ;) (Not that it makes a lot of difference, but the accents are distinct.)
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    I finally managed to find an online copy that I can access from my location and I think Hermione is on the right track.
    The landlady is making Alvina pay her more rent for having her lover in her room. Alvina offers half-a-crown but the woman wants a crown, five shillings.
    I get the impression the landlady thinks Alvina might be getting paid, that is, prostituting herself. Maybe that's what she means by the 'lashings', which is colloquial for 'lots of', unless it has some very special meaning.
    It's a form of blackmail. If the place was at all decent, Alvira would have been thrown out and her reputation ruined.
    We know what sort of woman the landlady is by her offering Alvina drink.
    The landlady asks for extra payment (ontop of the usual rent, I suppose) with "Come now, it's worth a hextra quart to me, else I shan't have it, I shan't." I.e. she will not allow male visitors unless Alvina pays a "hextra quart". I have no clue what a quart is, a quarter-souvereign maybe??

    Regarding the drink, I don't think "You don't take a drop of nothink, do yer?" can be taken literally as a drop of booze. It sounds more like a figure of speech with the meaning "You don't take advantage of anyone/You don't accept any free favours -- and in extension to that: You don't cause me any inconvenience as a tenant".
    Reason being, I see no booze involved. The landlady offered Alvina to dry her clothes in the backyard or even in the landlady's kitchen because they wouldn't dry easily in Alvina's room, but Alvina declined the offer. She said she didn't like it. Only then the landlady started with her "You don't take a drop of nothink, do yer?" remarks.
    Similarly, "Summat a bit stronger 'n 't bottle" seems like a figure of speech in that context.

    If so, the statement "if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, you mun split it." can be interpreted as "since you never take advantage of me, you must split it." (With 'it' being the extra payment offered by Alvina, the half-a-sovereign coin)

    --------------------
    Oops, I missed one mistake in Hermione's post: Alvina did not offer half-a-crown, but half-a-sovereign (=10 shillings), i.e. Alvina gave more than the landlady asked.
    It would be interesting to know how much that requested "hextra quart" actually is in shillings!?!
     
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    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    Regarding the drink, I don't think "You don't take a drop of nothink, do yer?" can be taken literally as a drop of booze. It sounds more like a figure of speech with the meaning "You don't take advantage of anyone/You don't accept any free favours -- and in extension to that: You don't cause me any inconvenience as a tenant".
    That seems unlikely - the woman is described as beery, and she is somewhat drunk:
    "You don't take a drop o' nothink, do yer?" -> you don't drink, do you? (This will later mean, "You don' spend money on drink, do you?)

    "No," said Alvina. "I don't like it."

    "Summat a bit stronger 'n 't bottle, my sakes alive! Well, yo mun ha'e yer fling, like t' rest. -> you like something a bit stronger than drink, don't you? Well, nevertheless, you must have your good time, like the rest of the world." (i.e. drink makes some people happy...)

    The old woman then speculates about who Alvina's lover is and, having (apparently) found out, the old woman says that the behaviour is an inconvenience and
    "Come now, it's worth a hextra quart to me," -> It is worth the price of two pints of beer to me
    else I shan't have it, I shan't. -> otherwise I won't permit it - I won't
    You can't make as free as all that with the house, you know, be it what it may -> you can't behave like that in this house - whatever you are doing.

    Then (and not as I thought above.)
    if you share niver a drop o' th' lashins, -> if you don't drink (with the hint that Alvina is thus not spending money on beer and therefore can afford to pay)
     

    manfy

    Senior Member
    German - Austria
    :thumbsup: Yep, it seems you're right!

    After the landlady left, Alvina looked out the window and, I quote, "...saw her landlady hastening along the black asphalt pavement, her dirty apron thrown discreetly over what was most obviously a quart jug."
    This suggests that the preceding remarks were really about alcoholic beverages, and the landlady apparently wasted no time to pick up a quart of brew with this welcome half-a-crown coin from Alvina.
     

    Uncle Jack

    Senior Member
    British English
    This suggests that the preceding remarks were really about alcoholic beverages, and the landlady apparently wasted no time to pick up a quart of brew with this welcome half-a-crown coin from Alvina
    A pint of beer in 1920 was about a shilling, so this works very well (a half-crown was two shillings and sixpence).

    However, this does make the previous 'hextra quart' a little odd. If taken literally, the landlady would have been asking for two bob, so Alvina offering half a sovereign is five times what was being asked (though perhaps Alvina, not being a drinker herself, didn't know the price). The landlady refuses the half-sovereign but eagerly accepts five shillings, still way more than what she originally asked for.

    I think Paul in post #19 is mistaken in his last paragraph, Alvina has already offered half a sovereign so there is no question of her being able to afford to pay. Now that I understand the money was to buy drink, it makes more sense that with half a sovereign, the landlady would buy drink for the both of them, but since it is just for the herself, five shillings will do.
     

    PaulQ

    Senior Member
    UK
    English - England
    "Come now, it's worth a hextra quart to me," -> It is worth the price of two pints of beer to me
    However, this does make the previous 'hextra quart' a little odd. If taken literally, the landlady would have been asking for two bob,
    The landlady was merely hinting at the amount of increase that she was thinking of.
    So Alvina offering half a sovereign is five times what was being asked (though perhaps Alvina, not being a drinker herself, didn't know the price).
    As I understand it, Alvina is from the upper(-middle) classes: there is someone asking for "some money" to keep quiet about what she (the old woman) thinks is immorality - it is balckmail. Alvina is not really listening to the exact words of the old woman, but she has understood the message; so she simply offers the person "some money"
    The landlady refuses the half-sovereign but eagerly accepts five shillings, still way more than what she originally asked for.
    The landlady has a conscience of some sort. She does not want to "kill the Golden Goose" by taking the half-sovereign.
     
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