I never got around to posting up something about the 28th March session in Red Lodge, which was quite an amazing discussion. Ten of us were there, after a long pre-Easter break. Ben had planned to use as a stimulus something that he had been given on one of the massive demonstrations in London, but we never got around to that. We stimulate ourselves these days, so to speak.
We went around and picked up the news that people wanted to share. There was so much of it. You can hardly turn off the tellie for fear of missing something important. Or, to put it another way, you can hardly bear to turn it on, for fear of finding out more than you wanted to know. Time seems to be passing quickly — it does, we observed, especially if you’re doing something you like. But the person who had said that time was passing quickly, turned out not to be so keen on the thing she was concentrating on — college work which was not as stimulating as she would have liked.
More things cropped up: the census; the nuclear accidents in Japan, after the tsunami. And then we came to the main feature of this session. Arnold had brough books and poems published by the Yorkshire Dialect Society; including the winner of the 1930 competition for the best pieces written in dialect (three one-act plays), and a poetry book in dialect which was beautifully printed and had the most amazing woodcuts.
We took turns to read out one of the plays, and one of the poems (‘The Dipper and the Wagtail’, because it’s spring). They were brilliant. And then we talked about language and dialect.
Who decides how you’re going to speak? What is the history of accents and dialects? Is the Yorkshire the original dialect of the British Isles? Some people in the group had had bad experiences in their youth, as theor school had insisted on their using the King’s English, rather than Scots language, say. Who invented this King’s English? Why should everyone be required to learn it? How long ago did this tradition come about?
We had many questions, these as well as others, and we chewed them over for a while.Finally, we decided to start a new tradition of posting up a question for the week on the notice board, and in the Folk Hall, and online in several places. We chewed over some more questions: How did language start? Why was I forbidden to speak my own language? Where did accents come from? Where did we all come from? Why were people required to speak the King’s/Queen’s English? We went for ‘How did language start?’