I’m now nearing the end of volume nine of the Poldark series – no, not the TV series, but the novels by Winston Graham from which TV has now taken two large bites. The books are (‘of course!’, did I hear someone exclaim?) immeasurably better than the television series, though the first of these was excellent. The novels are examples of great story-telling at its most engrossing. Almost everyone I’ve spoken to about the books has said, ‘You just can’t put them down, can you?” Absolutely true.
I don’t know what readers outside the English Westcountry make of some of the dialogue, however – even maybe some young Westcountry readers. One of my great pleasures has been in being reminded of dialect speech which I’d almost completely forgotten from my childhood: ‘little tacker’ for very small child, ‘teazy’ for irritable and out of sorts, ‘my lover’ for any member of the family – and Graham had a marvelous ear for that, and for local pronunciation and comments: ‘Ais’ for ‘yes’, ‘dunnee’ for ‘don’t you’, ‘See ee drekly’ for ‘see you soon’ – ‘directly’ - and so on. The disappearance of local terms – not just Cornish – is very sad, because so many of them are wonderful. I remember from my grandfather ‘dubbit’ for a short, tubby person; ‘gaddle’, to drink down a beer too quickly; ‘mazed’ for wild, slightly mad; ‘pindy’ describing meat that was ‘off’ – and the wonderful ‘airy-mouse’ for a bat.
Thas all fur now, my lovers.