Just kidding

November 14th, 2014

Source: The Guardian, 13/11/14

Joseph Wright

November 13th, 2014

While ferreting around on the web for information about Thomas Hallam, I have come across his involvement with Joseph Wright’s massive 6 volume English Dialect Dictionary. The first volume of this was published in 1898 and on page viii of the preface Wright writes:

I also express my deep sense of indebtedness and obligation for the bequest of the late Thomas Hallam, Esq., Manchester

Wright was using his own money to cover the expense of printing the dictionary and and goes on to say that he had spent considerably over £2000. Without Hallam’s legacy and a grant from the Royal Bounty Fund the project may have been scuppered.

Some of you may be interested to know that the whole of the EDD is available online at this address. Click on the link to a particular volume and this will take you to a page where you can read it. Better still you can choose one of the formats in the left side-bar, left click (or whatever) and download the file. I chose B/W PDF and it seems pretty good. What is more, the files are searchable.


The image of Wright is in the public domain

Thomas Hallam Found!

November 8th, 2014

The picture shows the tower of St Thomas Becket Church, Chapel-en-le-Frith, Derbyshire. The churchyard here is where Thomas Hallam is buried and his tombstone reads:

Here rests the body of / Thomas Hallam / a member of the / Council of the / English Dialect Society / Born 26 December 1810 / at Raglow [Draglow] Chapel en le Frith Died 7th September 1895 / at Ardwick Manchester / He devoted the leisure moments / of a long and busy life / to a patient and diligent enquiry / into all that is noteworthy / in the various dialects / of Northern England / The results of his Studies are / placed in Bodley’s Library / in the University of Oxford.

There seems to be some doubt about the date of his birth, because the Chapel-en-le-Frith parish record of births baptisms has an entry: 30 Jan 1820 Thomas the son of John & Hannah HALLAM of Raglow, farmer and an entry for a burial: 11 Sep 1895 Thomas HALLAM of Ardwick, aged 75. I am trying to resolve this. The above information comes from the website of The Hallam Family of the Peak District. Many thanks to them.

The Bodleian Library does indeed have works by TH. Apart from the two works mentioned in my previous post, the catalogue also lists:

  • 1882 Three Great Dictionaries.
  • 1882 with Chamberlain, Edith L. A glossary of west Worcestershire words.
  • undated [Newspaper cuttings and printed items of the years 1838-94, chiefly of philological and biographical interest, collected by T. Hallam].

I am still trying to find information on TH’s profession, marriage and offspring if any.

Update: See the comment from Steven Hallam.


Photo credit: Tony Bacon. Used under this licence.

Thomas Hallam

November 7th, 2014

Thomas Hallam was apparently an accomplished phonetician, but very little seems to be known about his life. Here is what I have been able to find.

TH was a native of the Peak District in North Derbyshire. I am certain that he died sometime between 1890 and 1896. He collaborated with, and was highly praised by, such phonetics and philological luminaries as Alexander Ellis (1814-1890) and Walter Skeat (1835-1912). I came across TH in the publication part of whose title page you can see to the left. This was published in 1896 by the English Dialect Society.

In his introduction to the first of the two collections Skeat says of Hallam:

TH himself wrote the introduction to the second collection (actually two collections conflated into one) and in this gave a very detailed account of all the symbols and diacritics used, together with a description of the sounds involved. The pronunciations he recorded were printed for the first collection introduced by Skeat, but unfortunately TH died before he could provide Skeat with the pronunciations for the second collection.

There is no doubt that Skeat had taken on a difficult task with these two collections and he freely admits he would have been hard pressed without TH’s work. The collections were made by Samuel Pegge (1704-1796), a clergyman, who for the latter part of his life was the vicar in Old Whittington near Chesterfield. Skeat acquired the manuscript of the collections in 1873. They were difficult to read and were rather chaotically thrown together. The introduction by Pegge, which deals amongst other things with pronunciation, is practically incomprehensible. The frustration Skeat must have felt is well illustrated by this extract from a footnote:

TH wrote at least one other work for the English Dialect Society. You can see part of the title page to the right. This was published in 1885. The four words concerned have the following (approximate) meanings:

  • clem = suffer from hunger or thirst
  • lake = to play
  • nesh = susceptible to cold
  • oss = to try
  • The only one of these I am familiar with is nesh, which was commonly used in Derby when I was young, and probably still is.

    The paper is amazingly detailed and must have involved journeys by TH all over the country. You can read it online. It is part of the file which contains Ellis’s English Dialects – Their Sounds and Homes.

    I would love to know more of the details of TH’s life. If anyone has any further information, please let me know.

    My thanks go to JDL for providing the Pegge article. You can read it online here.

    Kinder Scout

    October 29th, 2014

    My mention of Castleton in the last post reminded me of one of the two occasions I actually stayed in the village. The first of these was back in this old geezer’s school days. I guess I must have been about 16 when I went on a walking tour of the Peak District with two teachers and a bunch of schoolmates. We stayed in Youth Hostels, one of which was in Castleton. The day’s walking from there was the toughest of the week. It was, we reckoned, 24 miles and some of it through the sort of terrain you can see in the picture above.

    What you can see above are hags and groughs (ɡrʌfs) on the Kinder Scout plateau to the north west of Castleton. The former are the high spots in a peak bog and the latter are channels cut through the peat by the action of water. If memory serves me well, some bright spark in the party named the whole landscape “plip”. Fortunately the weather was not as horrible as that in the picture. However, on the way down back to Castleton we came across a bank of snow in the lee of a dry-stone wall. This was in June, I think.

    The first part of the name Kinder Scout is a bit problematic. It may derive ulimately from two putative British words: *cunetio and *briga. The first of these may have meant something like “high” and the second meant “hill”.

    The second part of the name is not so problematic. It derives from Old Norse skúti, which means “high rock or hill”.


    Photo credit: David Appleyard. Used under this licence.