Page:A book of the west; being an introduction to Devon and Cornwall.djvu/32

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10
THE WESTERN FOLK

in the Seaton and Axminster district so much of the dark hair and eye, that I believe there is less than is supposed, and that there is a very large under-stratum of the earlier Silurian. Perhaps in North Devon there may be more of the Saxon. West of Okehampton there is really not much difference between the Devonian and the Cornishman, but of this more presently.

It is remarkable that the Devonshire dialect prevails in Cornwall above a diagonal line drawn from Padstow to Saltash, on the Tamar; west of this and below it the dialect is different. This is probably due to the Cornish tongue having been abandoned in the west and south long subsequent to its disappearance in the north-east. But this line also marks the limits of an Irish-Gwentian occupation.

The dialect is fast dying out, but the intonation of the voice will remain long after peculiar words have ceased to be employed.

The "z" has a sound found nowhere else, due to the manner in which the tongue is turned up to the palate for the production of the sound; "ou" and "oo" in such words as "you" and "moon" is precisely that of the French u in "lune."

Gender is entirely disregarded; a cow is a "he," who runs dry, and of a cock it is said "her crows in the morn." But then the male rooster is never a cock, but a stag.

The late Mr. Arnold, inspector of schools, was much troubled about the dialect when he came into the county. One day, when examining the school