I SHOULD not have
deemed it necessary to apologise for, or explain why I have written
this book in the Lancashire dialect, but I read a summary of a
speech delivered to the scholars at a Bury school, at a prize-giving
on Nov. 3rd, 1910, by Mr. George Harwood, M.A., the distinguished
member of Parliament for Bolton. He is reported to have counselled
his hearers to discard the use of the dialect because it was "ugly,
ungrammatical, un-English, absolutely incorrect . . . . Pronouns all
wrong, verbs all wrong, and the whole thing upside down. There was
an English language that had been developed by hundreds of years of
culture and education, and why should it be so mutilated and so
disgracefully used as it was by Lancashire people?"
That is a strong indictment against a dialect that was protoplast of
the English language — a dialect used by our forbears in their
wooings and in transacting business; a tongue which probably most of
the mothers of the boys whom Mr. Harwood was addressing used when
soothing their offspring to sleep. Ugly! I deny it. Ungrammatical I
admit; but inasmuch as it was a language long before a grammar was
compiled, Lancashire folk never required the aid of such rules to
enable one to understand another. Will Mr. Harwood give us examples
of where the pronouns and verbs are all wrong; and also tell us how
anything in use can be "upside down."
The builders of the "beautiful" English language appear to me to
have been indifferent craftsmen, considering they have compiled over
three million words, and there are very few of our best scholars who
are familiar with a thousandth part of them. The Lancashire dialect
comprises less than five hundred words, and those who converse in it
know its whole dictionary, and furthermore, have made colossal
fortunes for those who would contemn it. Is it not ungenerous, to
say the least, to criticise the roughness of the timbers of the
bridge over which one has crossed to the land of wealth? I am
tempted to write much more had I the space.
I gratefully acknowledge the encouragement I have received in the
production of this book from the Lancashire Authors' Association (to
which I have the honour to belong), and must specially thank Mr.
Jos. Crenshaw and Mr. Sam Fitton (both authors of repute) for their
assistance as critics and "readers" of the contents herein. I must
thank Mr. Sam Fitton, also, for the illustrations; he has
interpreted my ideas very intelligently, and my readers will judge
Blackpool, February, 1911.