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Saturday, 24 December 2016

Seasons Greetings

If you prefer, Merry Christmas, and the compliments of the season to one and all.

An odd little thing caught my eye while wandering around the internet a few days ago. A discussion on the correct way to handle "Tis the Season to be jolly..." in whatever format the words are encountered, and questions were  raised as to what "Tis" actually means. This is and It is were both offered as candidates.

Obviously English and old, but that depends on where you hail from in this sceptred isle. For many inhabitants of the north "Tis" is part of our day to day vocabulary, and means "It is," Personally, I would write it as 't is. The leading apostrophe replaces the capital I, but in the spoken form the whole lot is crunched together.

A distinctive feature of the native Sheffield dialect is this crunching together of the words in a sentence to sound like a single continuous stream. A legacy of the noise in the steelworks and factories where conversation was slotted in between the din of heavy industry.

The late Les Dawson, a popular comedian in his day, worked a double act of two Lancashire women whose conversation would frequently drop out of hearing, leaving only the exagerated lip movements and facial expressions to convey the meaning. Shifting it to a comic setting with a running stream of innuendo prompting the silences let the viewer'a imagination fill in the gaps.

He was tapping into a traditional form of comunication used by the workers in the cotton mills, again striving to converse over the sound of the machines. So the key is pronunciation, and the confusion is about conveying a dialectic element without confusion.

As with local  advice in West Yorkshire regarding foul weather attire. Should you find yourself on a the hills without suitable head gear, be careful. Tha knows what happened on Ilkey moor bar t' 'at.

The truth of it, it doesn't really matter how you say it, we all know what it means and when we say it, the words come out right.

So as 't is, t' season, may your's be jolly and bright, and a happy Christmas to you all.

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