Academic journal article Parergon

Burton, T. L., William Barnes's Dialect Poems: A Pronunciation Guide

Academic journal article Parergon

Burton, T. L., William Barnes's Dialect Poems: A Pronunciation Guide

Article excerpt

Burton, T. L., William Barnes's Dialect Poems: A Pronunciation Guide, Adelaide and Provo, UT, Chaucer Studio Press, 2010: cloth; pp. xx, 288; 1 map, audio CD; R.R.P. AU$75.00; ISBN 9780842527606.

William Barnes was one of the great nineteenth-century autodidacts. Leaving school at thirteen, he taught himself many languages, learned to play three instruments, and wrote prodigiously. He had a particular interest in the history of the English language and its dialects but his poems in Dorsetshire dialect provide his principal claim to fame: the first was published in a local newspaper in 1834 and was followed by many others, including three collections. Barnes established himself as a major minor poet, carefully reproducing Dorset dialect in two different kinds of phonetic spelling.

Thomas Burton's book addresses a particular problem, namely, how to pronounce Barnes's poems. To this end, he provides a detailed account of the realization of the twenty main vowels of English in Barnes's Dorset dialect; a similar treatment of consonants (including iconic features of west country dialects such as 'z' for Standard English 's'); line-by-line commentary on three poems; and phonetic transcriptions of eighteen poems. There are also three appendices containing Barnes's own writing about Dorset dialect and his specimen of Winterborne Came local speech, a table of key rhymes, and an index verborum, as well as an audio CD of readings and a map. …

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