[From 3rd Manx Scrapbook ]
DIALECT WORDS AND PHRASES
A SMALL number of dialect words and phrases have presented themselves since the publication of Manx Dialect in 1934. Some I have heard or overheard, others I have taken from printed sources. For those gleaned from T. E. Brown, (B.) followed by a number indicates the page of his Collected Poems (Macmillan) where the quotation can be found.
I have used this opportunity to add a line or so to a few items in Manx Dialect, and to make some slight corrections. Two misprints which were overlooked may be mentioned here. On page 10z, " scrass " should be scraas. On page 150, after " Half-minded," read Lows.
Back, Backing. In a fishing-net, the doubling or reinforcing of the mesh in its weak or torn places. Also as a verb.
Bargan (obs., like the garment), a short-sleeved blouse with a waistband fastening in front. Shorter in front than behind. Usually of white or " Manx blue " material. " The light-coloured bargan and apron that the woman of the house wore " (The Master of Raby, play by Mona Douglas). The affinities of the
word are Northern English ; from O.E. beorgan, to protect, and ham, a covering. In another form,
" bargham," it denoted a horse-collar in the North of England. See also Berreman in Cregeen's Manx Dictionary, and Bargham, 3 and 4, in the English Dialect Dict.
Chop. " Dig the foundation deep as death : Plumb
it, plaster it, every chop of it " (B. 277). Exact sense uncertain.
Brathag (obs.), a large shawl of the native wool, often grey, worn indoors and drawn from the shoulders over the head when out of doors. Ir. bratõg, a covering garment. Cf. Mx brat, an apron or large bib ; In brat, a mantle.
Chaw-leaf, the leaf of the whitebeam ; chewed as a delicacy by boys, who, like goats, will chew almost anything.
Cranks, fads, whims. "Stuck-up Madams, and their airs and their cranks " (B. 593).
Creggan, eraggan, a rocky piece of land, occurs in field-names and farm-names, and is used generically also. Creggans, the coarser and less common gorse ( Ulex Europaeus). This growth may account for the word as a place-name in situations where no rock is visible. See previous item.
Cross-cap, an irritable or unruly person or child ; a " crosspatch."
Dhole. If this is the Ir. ddil, a gathering, as stated in my Manx Dialect, it must have been a comparatively modern borrowing. At any rate, the worthy farmer and Legislative Councillor who was heard to use it said it was a family word which he had learned from his elders when he was a boy.
Doctor, short for " fairy-doctor," a man who cures (chiefly domestic animals) by charms and herbs. Enough. As subs. : " he has had his enough," has had all he can bear, or more. Common in Irish dialect.
As adv. it is stronger than " sufficiently " ; " cowld enough," extremely cold ; " soon enough," far too soon.
Feddhal, a shaking with laughter, also as verb. Mx. the same, meaning, e.g. to pant, throb ; but sound is at the root of the idea, as in Ir. feadghail, the act of whistling, from fead, a whistle.
Flock, a great number of anything. " A flock of nights ago now " ; " a flock of rich people in Kirk Bride parish" (An Old Ballaugh Tragedy, pages 9 and 13).
Funethral (two syll.), a funeral. A Northernism, I think.
Gant. Tom the Gant was a one-armed man, Billy Gant was a Lonan character also afflicted. The word has been explained to me as meaning " lop-sided, having a list lek." If this is correct I can suggest no affinities for the word. Otherwise, " gant " is, of course, " gannet."
Half a foot, one foot, either of leg or stocking ; now rare. A Gaelic-derived idiom: leth-chos.
Half-tail, a cat half-bred between a rumpy and one with the usual allowance of tail.
Lash, abundance. " A lash of " so-and-so, as in the Ir. phrase, " lashings and leavings."
Livered, pale-coloured. Probably for " livid." Mirrieu, dead. (B. 496, 509.) Mx.
Parson (obs.), an itinerant preacher.
Peppering, using threats or abuse ; slanging. I have only met with it in the pres. participle, used intransitively.
Pint-jough, cup or mug holding a pint, Mx jough. Misunderstood in my Manx Dialect, s.v. " Bun-eurran." Placket (obs.), a name for oats. " Half a firlett of plaekett," 1702 (Moore, Notes and Documents, 51). As a " firlett " was a measure, these must have been threshed oats. " Small common white oats " (Quayle,
Manx AgYicultHYe, 1812). " Plaggad : oats, from the time it is in ear till threshed " (Cregeen, Manx Dict.). " Oats as a plant " (Goodwin, First Lessons in Manx, 57). For a Northern Ireland (?) use of the word see Campbell, Political Survey of Gt. Britain, Dublin, 1775, ii, 532 ; quoted by Train, Hist. of I. of Mafia, i., 14. (Partly repeated from my Manx Dialect, 1934.) Rantipike. " A Rantipike schooner caught in the
tide " (B. 127). Qu. " under bare poles " ? Cf. Eng. Dial. Diet. " Rampick," also as " ranapike," " randle piked," etc., with a general meaning of " bare branches " ; Dorset and 1. of Wight. If this is the word, why the capital R ?
Rocking-horse weather. A sailors' expression for calm weather at sea. In Manx Dialect, page 182, I asked for an explanation. None has come to hand, so I suggest that the idea is " riding gently up and down," as on a rocking-horse.
Scatty, lean and hungry-looking, in poor condition. Of human beings or animals.
Sign. Commonly used for " sign of fish," especially
herring ; as, a superficial disturbance of the water, or a flock of gulls hovering excitedly over the shoal, travelling with it, and swooping. " We get to know the marks and the signs " (B. 109). " On sea we would be watching for signs of herrings, such as gannets, perkins, and such-like. But gulls were our best friends :
The crews that would by fishing thrive
Steer to the spot where gulls and gannets dive.
That is why there is a law in that they must not be shot. The signs of the gulls were always minded. The best sign is to see them lying in a flock upon the waters, making a noise and turning their heads about ; then rising, flying, and settling down again. . . . We would be watching the signs of the gulls on land, too, on Monday morning when coming down from the country to our boats. For the gulls would be going higher or lower on the hill as the fish shifted out off . . . Some of the men were putting these signs down-making an almanack of them for the week. We would tell where to look for fish . . . from the sitting of the gulls on the land. But the best of all the signs is to see the
" lil silver fellas " themselves. On a dark night if you came over a body of herrings the water would be all lit up with them, and you will see them shining and glittering underneath the waves quite plainly " (Roeder's informant, Manx Notes and Queries, pages 108-9).
Skin-wool (in the old-time spinning), the wool taken from next the skin of the sheep after the fleece had
been shorn. It was wirier than the fleece-wool because
it remained from the previous year's growth. The Mx name for it was cass-ollan or cass-olley, literally " footwool " ; i.e. the wool at the bottom of the fleece, lying flat and distinct from the new growth.
Skit, a character who suffered a mock execution in the dance of the Mollag Bands ; for these see page 277. In ordinary parlance a " skit " is a queer sort of fellow who lays himself open to be " skitted "i.e. derided.
Smeggle, the chin. Mx smeggyl, Sc. Gael. smegailt, chin. Ir. smeig-ghiall, " junction of jaw and chin " (Dinneen).
Snifrkin, insignificant. " You sniffikin falla " (I3. 226). " Falla," fellow.
Spinnigin, a throat-complaint of fowls ; " the pip." Mx.
Square foot, A, a club-foot. " Bill Quarrie of Creg ny-Mult had a square foot " (Oral). " Jimmy Squarefoot " was a cross between a human being and a tusked boar who haunted the hillward parts of Malew and Arbory, and whose footprints were found where he had shown himself.
Stick. " A bad stick " is a rogue, a bad lot ; " a
poor stick " is a weakling. Sc. Gael. stic or steic, a fellow, in a derogatory sense. The sense is much the same in Sc. dialect. In England " a queer stick," " a dry stick," are less uncomplimentary.
Stupid, dogged, obstinate, rather than with the usual sense of dull-witted. "As stupid as an animal " characterises a self-willed man who will not listen to
reason; because a driven cow or pig is apt to be stubborn and contrary. " They launched the boat by main strength and stupidness " (Cashen, Manx Folklore, page 35).
Tally, an extra piece or article ; overweight. " Warp and tally " in counting herring means three extra fish, and one more, over the " long hundred " or hundredand-twenty, making in all 124. Irish dialect has " Tilly, a small quantity given over " (Joyce, English as we steak it). " A tilly or added weight of meal " (Dinneen, Irish Dict., s.v. Gaimbin, page 1333). Ir. Gael. tuilledh. This " tally " is to be distinguished from " tally," an account kept, from which comes " tallystick," on which amounts were recorded by means of notches.
Toffee-spree, a merry winter-evening gathering of neighbours in some hospitable kitchen with wholesale toffee-making as the excuse.
Tow (rhyming with " now "). To give anyone tow is to worst him badly, either in physical combat or in argument ; to chastise, rate. A tow, literally, is a rope's-end.
Thick is used in the sense of " wide," " broad." A
narrow strip of land is " not very thick at all." A roomy boat is " thick in the beam," or even " a thick lil boat," without reference to the strength of her timbers.
Thump-the-door Night, All Saints' Eve. (See " The Hop-tu-naa Boys," Part Two, chap. 1.)
Tuck, a fold or crease in the ground, a trough-like hollow. A special use of Eng. " tuck."
Turk, an unruly child. Also used in England and Ireland.
Tweet, a foolish or stupid person. " Philly the Tweet " was a " character." The sense is much the same as that of " toot," which is English ; but the word may be a bird's name.
Well-looked, good-looking. " Not ugly, I mean, but well-looked rather" (B. 562).
To hold to it is to stick to one's opinion in an argument, to asseverate obstinately. " He was houl'in' to it he'd paid me." " An' I'd houl' to that before the Dempsthar himself."
To make one's own of anything or anybody is to arrogate ownership, or make unwarranted or unacknowledged use of him, her, or it. Of a lent article, " he made his own of it, and lent it again." Of news told, "she made her own of it when she was telling " so-and-so. " He's making his own of her," making a cat's-paw of her. An obsolete or obsolescent expression, which lingered longest, I think, in the North.
To make the run is to take a certain line of argument, exposition, or exhortation. " All he done Was spoke to her, and made the run Much the same as he did with us" (B. 586). Of a projected prayer: " the first he
got Was the run " ; " to think the run " ; (B. 392). A simile taken from the technicalities of boat-building.
My annim !, my soul ! Mx. " His shirt ? my annim ! Never had the lek upon him " (B.).
Not a patch between two people or things-there is not the least difference between them. " There wasn' a patch betwix' them " (B. 161).
To put a spake on is to indulge in eloquent or highflown speech. " He put a spake on hind " (Jas. Cowin, Reminiscences, 1902, page 43).
To stand fight is to defend one's-self, or turn to bay. " He wasn't willing to let himself be quietly robbed, and he stud fight (An Old Ballaugh Tragedy, page 22. A Ramsey brochure, 1905).
Sugar for any man's tea, good enough for anybody. " Lovin' Nelly. . . . That was sugar for any man's tar " (B. 3o6).
To take (a person) off his head is to rouse him to great enthusiasm or excitement, to cause him to lose his head.
To take reamys is to escape, make off. " And Juan and Jamys, The two tuk reamys " (Vocab. of Anglo Manx Dialect, page 93). Reainys is not a Mx dictionary word, but cf. ream, liberty ; Ir. rëim-, a course, way.
" The history of no people can be s t to zve been z -it'en
so long as its superslitioizs and bet" f: 1- ~, %zot
been studied ; and those zvho a;, „ i-'-- %s
1 , % e recorded are childish and frivolo . ~: d
that they bear on. questions which c >arlã < be
c ('1~ d ,;:they childish or frivolous. So, 1 , . 1 ; lid
)- ;~ be thought, let him who knows such a - ate
it to somebody who will place it on recur i ' he s. sll teen probably find that it has more weaning ;, t , an he had anticipated."
(John Rhys, M.A., D.Litt., "Celtic Folklore, Welsh and Manx," page z.)