Page:Highways and Byways in Sussex.djvu/433

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CHAPTER XLI


THE SUSSEX DIALECT


French words at Hastings and Rye—Saxon on the farms—Mr. W. D. Parish's Dictionary of the Sussex Dialect—The rules of the game—The raciest of the words—A Sussex criticism of Disraeli—The gender of a Sussex nose—A shepherd's adventures—Sussex words in America—"The Song of Solomon" in the Sussex vernacular.


The body of the Sussex dialect is derived from the Saxon. Its accessories can be traced to the Celts, to the Norse—thus rape, a division of the county, is probably an adaptation of the Icelandic hreppr—and to the French, some hundreds of Huguenots having fled to our shores after the Edict of Nantes. The Hastings fishermen, for example, often say boco for plenty, and frap to strike; while in the Rye neighbourhood, where the Huguenots were strongest, such words as dishabil meaning untidy, undressed, and peter grievous (from petit-grief) meaning fretful, are still used.

But Saxon words are, of course, considerably more common. You meet them at every turn. A Sussex auctioneer's list that lies before me—a catalogue of live and dead farming stock to be sold at a homestead under the South Downs—is full of them. So blunt and sturdy they are, these ancient primitive terms of the soil: "Lot 1. Pitch prong, two half-pitch prongs, two 4-speen spuds, and a road hoe. Lot 5. Five short prongs, flint spud, dung drag, two turnip pecks, and two shovels. Lot 9. Six hay rakes, two scythes and sneaths, cross-cut saw, and a sheep hook. Lot 39. Corn chest, open tub, milking stool, and hog form. Lot 43. Bushel measure,