Teaching Grammar. A guide for the National Curriculum

By Richard Hudson. (Oxford: Blackwell, 1992)

(This chapter may also be downloaded in .rtf format, which can be read via Word or WordPerfect.)

Chapter 5. Some non-standard dialect features

The following list of non-standard sentences is based on one compiled by

Jenny Cheshire and Viv Edwards, who kindly allowed me to use their material.

Their questionnaire was produced as part of a research project ('The survey

of British dialects', project C-00-23-2264, funded by the Economic and

Social Research Council), whose purpose is explained in an article

containing the original questionnaire, see Edwards and Cheshire (1989).

Unfortunately in revising their list I also had to omit the delightful

illustrations by Dafydd Morriss.

Every sentence in the list is grammatical in some non-standard dialect.

Whatever your local dialect, the list should offer some sentences which

belong to it, while possibly provoking discussion on some of the other

sentences. The list is certainly incomplete as an inventory of grammatical

features that vary locally, to say nothing of local vocabulary, so you may

well be able to add to it from your own knowledge.

There are many different ways in which this list can be used. You could use

it yourself as a checklist, and never show it to the class, or they could go

through it with you; and in the latter case, you could go straight through

the entire list or take it in parts. It could simply introduce the idea of

dialect diversity - the non-stop tourist approach. It could provide the

basis for an interesting project, to find where some of the sentences that

aren't accepted in your area are used - the geographer's approach.

Individual local features that it reveals could be explored in some depth -

the linguist's approach. Children could take it home to discuss with their

parents or (better still) grandparents, to look for generation differences

and changes underway - the historical approach. Each of these approaches

could lead to important insights and entertaining lessons. You may photocopy

it freely.

 

FORMS OF PRESENT-TENSE VERBS OTHER THAN BE

(1) I likes toffees.

(2) We liken toffees.

(3) We likes toffees.

(4) Thee likes toffees.

(5) Thee like toffees.

(6) She like toffees.

(7) You has to see it to believe it.

(8) We always has a big cake on our birthday.

(9) What have her mother bought her?

(10) Do it go fast?

(11) Does we want to go fast?

(12) Fred do motor mechanics at college.

(13) I does it at school.

(14) You mun be at your music class by 9 a.m.

(15) You maun be at your music class by 9 a.m.

(16) He's out of tune, he mun be tone deaf.

(17) He's out of tune, he maun be tone deaf.

FORMS OF PAST-TENSE VERBS OTHER THAN BE

(18) He done that wrong.

(19) I give her a birthday present yesterday.

(20) I gived her a birthday present yesterday.

(21) Is that the car I see last night?

(22) Is that the car I seed last night?

(23) Is that the car I sawed last night?

(24) Is that the car I seen last night?

(25) I writ a letter yesterday.

PRESENT- AND PAST-TENSE FORMS OF BE

(26) Billy be stupid.

(27) Billy am stupid.

(28) Mary and John is getting married on Saturday.

(29) There's cars outside the church.

(30) You was singing.

(31) You wan singing.

(32) We was singing.

(33) We wan singing.

(34) They was singing.

(35) They wan singing.

(36) I were singing, too.

(37) So were John.

(38) Mary weren't singing.

(39) There was some singers here a minute ago.

OTHER VERB-FORMS

(40) We've gotten her a present too - a car!

(41) She was sat over there looking at her car.

(42) He was stood in the corner looking at it.

(43) I've a-found my keys. Let's go!

(44) We'd like to looken at the Tv you broke.

(45) We're a-going to start eating now.

NEGATION

(46) Dinna run too fast.

(47) You shouldna go in there!

(48) You've no to go in there!

(49) My friend broke that, I never.

(50) No, I never broke that.

(51) Will you not try to mend it - we need an expert.

(52) That ain't working.

(53) That in't working.

(54) That ay working.

(55) He in arf stupid.

(56) Not do that, John.

(57) Count on me, I won't do nothing silly.

(58) Anyone mustn't go

SUBJECTS: DUMMIES, INVERSION AND TAGS

(59) He's stupid, him.

(60) He's stupid, is Billy.

(61) It's stupid he is.

(62) It was stupid he was.

(63) There's stupid he is.

(64) Would he do such a thing, think you?

(65) I asked him did he know who had taken it?

(66) The bride's walking into the church, is it?

(67) I'm going to see them now, isn't it?

VERBS IN COMBINATION

(68) One of the singers said he'll not can stay.

(69) He might can do it tomorrow.

(70) The other one said he won't can't do it.

(71) I done bought them a wedding present.

(72) How the dog do jumpy! He'll knock it over.

(73) I d'eat chicken every day.

(74) I do be eating chicken every day.

(75) I did eat chicken every day when I lived there.

(76) I did eat chicken yesterday, too.

(77) Let you be listening to me, Joanna.

(78) Do ee listen to me.

(79) Don't be talking like that.

(80) We managed mend it ourselves.

(81) He has it mended twice already.

(82) We're gone shopping.

(83) You should of left half an hour ago!

USES OF TENSES AND VERB-COMBINATIONS

(84) I know that builder all my life.

(85) She's been a walking disaster since she's here.

(86) Are you waiting long for the plumber?

(87) Did you have your dinner yet?

(88) Are you wanting something to eat?

(89) Look! The kettle boils.

(90) I be eating chicken every day.

(91) Who is this book belonging to?

(92) If you had've been there, you would have seen her.

(93) If you would've been there, you would have seen her.

(94) You haven't got to be late, or you'll be in trouble.

VERB LINKERS

(95) I've come for to mend the window.

(96) I've come for mend the door.

(97) He's after going away, but he'll be back soon.

(98) I'd like to buy this house without you want it.

(99) Change the subject, else I'll go mad.

NOUN PLURALS AND NUMERALS

(100) That town is nearly twenty mile away.

(101) To make a big cake you need two pound of flour.

(102) This string is three inch long.

(103) This is a scissors.

(104) Look at these coins. I found about a fifty of them.

PRONOUN SUBJECT/OBJECT FORMS

(105) Me's got a good appetite.

(106) Him's got a good appetite.

(107) Her's got a good appetite.

(108) Them's got a good appetite.

(109) Give I a cup of tea!

(110) Give he a cup of tea!

(111) Give she a cup of tea

(112) Give we a cup of tea!

(113) Give they a cup of tea!

POSSESSIVES

(114) This is me cup.

(115) This is o'me cup.

(116) This is mines cup.

(117) Eat up thee cake.

(118) Eat up thy cake.

(119) That's my car, where's yourn?

(120) This is he's cup.

(121) That's my car, where's hisn?

(122) That's my car, where's hern?

(123) It cover's got a mark on it.

(124) O'it cover's got a mark on it.

(125) This is us car.

(126) This is wer car.

(127) This is wir car.

(128) This is my book. Whosen is that?

(129) These are my father boots.

(130) These are my father boots laces.

(131) Don't break the cup's handle.

PRONOUNS: MISCELLANEOUS

(132) Himself gets scared.

(133) Did you see herself there?

(134) We service it usselves.

(135) John likes doing that hisself.

(136) Lots of people do it theirselves.

(137) Give it me. That's my book.

(138) Give me it. That's my book.

(139) Thee's hungry, I expect.

(140) Are youse hungry, you boys over there?

DEMONSTRATIVES

(141) Look at them spiders.

(142) Look at then spiders.

(143) Look at they spiders.

(144) Look at this spiders.

(145) Look at yon beetle.

(146) Look at then beetle.

(147) Look at thir beetle.

(148) Look at thick beetle.

(149) Look at thicky beetle.

(150) Look at thuck beetle.

(151) Look at theasum worm.

(152) Look at this here worm.

(153) Look at that there worm.

DETERMINERS

(154) We've got a old house.

(155) Your house is an recent one.

(156) We've got old house. [no determiner]

(157) Look at time; you're late for school! [no determiner]

(158) I'1l have the headache if I carry on talking.

RELATIVE CLAUSES

(159) The films what I like best are horror films.

(160) The films as I like best are horror films.

(161) The films at I like best are horror films.

(162) Let's go to that film that you wanted to see it.

(163) I've got a friend can watch films all night. [no relative pronoun]

(164) The film what was on last night was good.

(165) The film as was on last night was good.

(166) The film at was on last night was good.

(167) That's the girl what's mum loves horror films.

(168) That's the girl what her mum loves horror films.

(169) That's the girl that her mum loves horror films.

(170) That's the girl as her mum loves horror films.

(171) That's the girl at's her mum loves horror films.

ADJECTIVE COMPARATIVE FORMS

(172) This is the beautifullest house I've seen.

(173) This is the most beautifullest house I've seen.

(174) I've never seen a beautifuller one.

(175) I've never seen a more beautifuller one.

(176) This is a more better one.

(177) This is a more betterer one.

(178) John's got a nice house, but yours is more nice.

(179) This is the worstest one I've seen.

(180) This is the baddest one I've seen.

(181) I've never seen a worser one.

(182) I've never seen a badder one.

ADVERBS, PREPOSITIONS, PARTICLES

(183) I like pasta. It cooks real quick.

(184) He knocks his hat off of his head.

(185) Goodbye, I'l1 away now.

(186) She goes to church of a Sunday.

(187) We live aside the cinema.

(188) We're going pictures.

(189) I'm going up my friend's house later.

(190) I'm going down my friend's house later.

(191) I'm going over my friend's house later.

(192) That's the father on Mary.

(193) Stop it! He's my best friend, like.

 

References

Edwards, Viv and Cheshire, Jennifer. 1989. The survey of British dialect grammar. In Jennifer Cheshire, Viv Edwards, Henk Münstermann and Bert Weltens (eds.) Dialect and Education. Some European Perspectives. Clevedon: Multilingual Matters, 200-215.

Milroy, James and Milroy, Lesley (eds.) 1993. Real English. The Grammar of English Dialects in the British Isles. London: Longman.