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					          SHEFFIELD

Life on the edge in the ‘largest village
             in the world’.
        On the edge

Sheffield is on the edge and between things.
  The largest city in Yorkshire, it lies at the
  foot of the county, little more than a stone’s
  throw from Derbyshire or Nottinghamshire.
  Similarly, it straddles the border between
  the midlands and the north. To a southerner,
  it is in the north, to a northerner it is a long
  way south…. As a locus, Sheffield is an
  island geographically central to the country.
  (Fine 1992: 9)
         Highland-lowland division

Sheffield is the only city
  to lie astride this
  division. To the west
  of the rivers Don and
  Sheaf are hills, to their
  east are plains.
(Fine 1992: 3)
Mercia and Northumbria
          Sheffield lies on the border
            of Anglo-Saxon
            Northumbria and Mercia.
            The border changed
            several times. ‘Clumps of
            Mercians, Northumbrians
            and Britons lived together
            in what had become a
            bordrland, where political
            boundaries were altered
            by acts of sword rather
            than acts of parliament.
Danelaw

          Danish settlements,
            characterised by –
            thorpe elements,
            cluster to the east of
            Sheffield.
       Sheffield as a border city

 Highland/ Lowland
 Northumbria/ Mercia
 Archbishopric of York/ Canterbury
 Place- and river-names: ‘Dore’ = ‘door,
  narrow passage’; ‘Sheaf’ = ‘boundary’.
 Present-day North/ Midlands
       The ‘largest village’

Sheffield has been famous for cutlery since at
  least the 14th century. Chaucer Reeve’s Tale:
  ‘A Sheffield thwittel bare he in his hose.’
  (thwittel = a type of knife). ‘Made in
  Sheffield’ already a brand of quality.
The industry developed through a system of
  small workshops run by ‘little mesters’.
  Workers came from the immediately
  surrounding areas.
        17th –century Immigration
Hey (1998: 33-4)
‘For a brief period between 24th November 1653 and
  5th December 1660 the marriage registers of
  Sheffield parish record the place of residence for
  both partners…. No bridegroom came from
  further north than Leeds or further south than
  Nottingham and all but ten of them lived within
  ten miles of the centre of Sheffield.’
‘Between 1625 and 1649 the fathers of 23% of
  apprentices lived in Sheffield township, 20% in
  rural parts of Sheffield township, 41.3% within 21
  miles, and only 16.2% 21 miles or more away.’
        Village networks
 ‘Most families had been settled in the
  neighbourhood for several generations. The
  continuity of local surnames is particularly marked
  in the cutlery trades…. A shared interest in the
  manufacture of cutlery and links forged through
  marriage and apprenticeship gave the people of
  Hallamshire a real sense of common identity. By
  the sixteenth century, the place and the people had
  acquired an identity whose distinctiveness was
  recognised throughout England’ (Hey 1998: 34)
       The ‘Steel City’: 19th-century
       immigration
1841 census: ‘The distances that some
  migrants had travelled were greater than in
  previous centuries – 327 Sheffielders had
  surnames beginning with Mc and 82 had
  names beginning with O’ – but on the
  whole the catchment area was similar to
  what it had always been. (Hey (1998: 145)
       ‘Big Steel’

Development of large-scale steelworks in the
  second half of the 19th century.
1851 census:
 36.3% born outside the borough boundary.
 21.5% born in Yorkshire or Derbyshire
 5.6% in Leics, Lincs or Notts
 3.3% Irish, ‘some Scots’. (Hey 1998)
        Irish migration
‘More Irish people settled in Sheffield in the next
  few decades [after 1851]. They came mostly from
  western and central Ireland and congregated in the
  north-western part of the central township, where
  in 1861 some enumerators’ districts contained as
  many as 25 per cent Irish residents (if English-
  born children of Irish parents are counted.) The
  Irish in Sheffield were never as numerous as those
  in Leeds or the industrial towns of Lancashire.
  (Hey 1998: 148).
        Condition of the Irish in
        Sheffield
Holland An enquiry into the Moral, Social and
 Intellectual Condition of the Industrial Classes of
 Sheffield:

‘I am at present attending three whose homes are
   scenes of wretchedness that could not be
   surpassed by anything in Ireland. It is often
   necessary to insist on their going to the
   workhouse, simply for protection from cold and
   hunger’. (cited in Pollard 1959: 21)
        Conditions of the Irish (cont.)
Pollard (1959: 21-2):

They lived in the most insanitary districts, sharing
  their slums with pigs and other domestic animals
  and with lodgers even more wretched than
  themselves, cheek by jowl with the riff-raff of the
  underworld, which every large city seemed to
  breed, and the inhabitants of common lodging-
  houses. In Sheffield, however, the small number
  of Irish-born citizens made their problems less
  acute than in other large towns in the North.
         Influence of Scots and Irish
 There is virtually no evidence of any substantial
  Scots in-migration
 Irish migration is small compared to other
  northern towns and cities
 Where Irish were relatively numerous, they
  clustered in the poorest districts, drawing attention
  from social commentators for the ‘wretchedness’
  of their lives.
 The ‘village’ nature of Sheffield, with its long-
  established networks of long-settled families,
  would militate against the Irish having any
  substantial influence.
       Linguistic evidence

Accounts of the Sheffield dialect go back to at
 least the early 19th century (Hunter 1829).
 The strong sense of identity forged by the
 close networks of the cutlery industry is
 reflected in pride in the dialect.
       ‘Dogs that didn’t bark’

There is no evidence in accounts of the
  Sheffield dialect for features identified
  elsewhere as marking Scots and / or Irish
  influence:
 Plural yous
 Lenition of final voiceless stops
 Generic the
 Double modals
       Second person pronouns

Yous absent from Sheffield, but (in more
  traditional dialect) Thee/ thou fulfil the
  function of number contrast and provide a
  ‘vernacular’ variant. Thee-ing and tha-ing is
  used as a term meaning to speak in broad
  dialect. One elderly female informant from
  the Survey of Sheffield Usage said to the
  interviewer ‘Thee thee and tha thyself and
  see how thou likes it’.
          Spread of yous
There is evidence of yous spreading to areas in which it was
  not used until recently. A recent student survey in
  Warrington (midway between Manchester and Liverpool)
  provides apparent-time evidence for its introduction within
  the last 15 years. Although Warrington has a sizeable
  population of Irish ancestry (of which I am a product!),
  this is a case of a feature being transferred, not directly
  from Hiberno-English, but either from the neighbouring
  cities (yous found I both Liverpool and inner-city
  Manchester), or, given the disappearance of thou, simply
  to ‘broaden the vernacular base’ (Meyerhoff& Niedzelski).
  I have found no evidence of yous in Sheffield, but, since
  thou is receding, it could appear in future.
       ‘False friends’

Some words found in glossaries of Sheffield
  dialect (e.g. Hunter 1829, Bywater 1854,
  Addy 1888), appear to be Scots or Irish.
  However, these are or were in use
  throughout the North of England so cannot
  be attributed to dialect contact in any
  specific location.
       Boke: Hunter ‘to boken’, to
       nauseate, ready to vomit.

Wright:
BOKE v.2 and sb. Sc. Irel. Nhb. Cum. Wm.
  Yks. Lan. Chs. Der. Not. Lin. Pem.
Sooa nivver boak at t’nastiest pill. Leeds Merc
  Suppl (Nov 14 1891)
Also cited from e. Yorks in Marshall’s Rural
  economy 1788.
        Crack: Hunter ‘to boast’

Commonly assumed to be a recent import from Irish
   craic. However, Wright:
Var. dial. Uses in Sc. Irel. Eng. And Colon.
7. Talk, conversation, gossip, chat. Citations from
   Scotland, Northumberland, Durham, Yorks,
   Lancs, Cheshire.
n. Yorks ‘He stopped for a bit of a crack’ (1865)
W. Yorks ‘Cracks in t’ingle neuk’ (1895)
        Crack (cont.)

OED gives ‘loud talk, boast, brag’ arch. and dial.
 ‘brisk talk, conversation’ Sc. and northern dialect.

Meaning of ‘talk, gossip’ seems established
 throughout Scotland and the North of England.
 Could more recent meaning be due to semantic
 transference c.f. Old English/ Scandinavian
 dream?
           Conclusions
 No solid evidence of Scots or Irish influence on the dialect
    of Sheffield.
   The ‘critical mass’ required for influence via dialect
    contact never reached
   Sheffield had close networks of artisans linked for
    generations through apprenticeships and strategic
    marriages.
   This led to early development of urban identity
   External influences less likely to affect the dialect.
   Immigration from surrounding counties would reinforce
    the ‘border’ nature of Sheffield and its dialect.
            References
 Addy, S. O. (1888) A Glossary of Words Used in the Neighbourhood
    of Sheffield London: Trubner for the English Dialect Society
   Bywater, A. (1854) The Sheffield Dialect London ; Halifax ; Sheffield
    : William Evans : Milner and Sowerby : Rodgers and Fowler
   Fine, D. (1992) Sheffield: History and Guide Stroud: Alan Sutton.
   Hey, D. (1998) A History of Sheffield Lancaster: Carnegie Publishing
   Hunter, J. (1888) The Hallamshire Glossary London: Wiliam
    Pickering
   Meyerhoff, M. and Niedzielski, N. (2003) ‘The globalisation of
    vernacular variation’, Journal of Sociolinguistics 7 (4): 534-555.
    Pollard, S. (1959) A History of Labour in Sheffield Liverpool:
    Liverpool University Press.

				
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