|Born||31 October 1855|
|Died||27 February 1930 74) (aged|
|Main interests|| Germanic languages |
|Notable works||English Dialect Dictionary|
|Influenced||J. R. R. Tolkien|
Joseph Wright FBA (31 October 1855 – 27 February 1930)was an English philologist who rose from humble origins to become Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford University.
Wright was born in Idle, near Bradford in Yorkshire, the second son of Dufton Wright, a woollen cloth weaver and quarryman, and his wife Sarah Ann (née Atkinson). [ citation needed ] leading a donkey-drawn cart full of tools to the smithy to be sharpened. He later became a bobbin doffer – responsible for removing and replacing full bobbins – in a Yorkshire mill in Sir Titus Salt's model village. Although he learnt his letters and numbers at the Salt's Factory School, he was unable to read a newspaper until he was 15. He later said of this time: "Reading and writing, for me, were as remote as any of the sciences."He started work as a "donkey-boy" in a quarry around 1862 at the age of 6 years old,
By now a wool-sorter earning £1 a week, after around 1870, Wright became increasingly fascinated with languages and began attending night-school to learn French, German and Latin, as well as maths and shorthand. At the age of 18, around 1874, he even started his own night-school, charging his colleagues twopence a week.
By 1876, Wright had saved £40 and could afford a term's study at the University of Heidelberg, although he walked from Antwerp, a distance of over 400 km, to save money.[ citation needed ]
Returning to Yorkshire, Wright continued his studies at the Yorkshire College of Science (later the University of Leeds) while working as a schoolmaster. A former pupil of Wright's recalled: "With a piece of chalk [he would] draw illustrative diagrams at the same time with each hand, and talk while he was doing it."
Wright later returned to Heidelberg, and in 1885, completed his PhD on Qualitative and Quantitative Changes of the Indo-Germanic Vowel System in Greek [ citation needed ]under Hermann Osthoff, later founding the field of scientific study called "English dialectology".
In 1888, after his return from Germany, Wright was offered a post at Oxford University by Professor Max Müller, and became a lecturer to the Association for the Higher Education of Women and deputy lecturer in German at the Taylor Institution.
From 1891 to 1901, Wright was Deputy Professor and from 1901 to 1925 Professor of Comparative Philology at Oxford.[ citation needed ]
Wright specialised in the Germanic languages and wrote a range of introductory grammars for Old English, Middle English, Old High German, Middle High German and Gothic which were still being revised and reprinted 50 years after his death. He also wrote a historical grammar of German.[ citation needed ]
Wright had a strong interest in English dialects and claimed that his 1892 book A Grammar of the Dialect of Windhill [ citation needed ]was "the first grammar of its kind in England".
Wright's greatest achievement is considered to be the editing of the six-volume English Dialect Dictionary , which he published between 1898 and 1905, initially at his own expense. This remains a definitive work, a snapshot of English dialect speech at the end of the 19th century. In the course of his work on the Dictionary, he formed a committee to gather Yorkshire material, which gave rise in 1897 to the Yorkshire Dialect Society, which claims to be the world's oldest surviving dialect society. Wright had been offered a position at a Canadian university, who would have paid him an annual salary of £500 – a very generous salary at the time. However, Wright opted to stay in Oxford and finish the Dialect Dictionary without any financial backing from a sponsor.[ citation needed ]
In 1925, Wright was the inaugural recipient of the British Academy's Biennial Prize for English Literature (now the Sir Israel Gollancz Prize), awarded for publications in Early English Language and Literature.
Wright's papers are in the Bodleian Library at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England, United Kingdom, Europe.[ citation needed ]
In 1896 Wright married Elizabeth Mary Lea (1863–1958), with whom he co-authored his Old and Middle English Grammars. She also wrote the book, Rustic Speech and Folklore (Oxford University Press 1913), in which she makes reference to their various walking and cycle trips into the Yorkshire Dales, as well as various articles and essays.
The couple had two children – Willie Boy and Mary – both of whom died in childhood.
Wright and his wife were known for their hospitality to their students and would often invite a dozen or more, both men and women, to their home for Yorkshire Sunday teas. On these occasions Wright would perform his party trick of making his Aberdeen Terrier, Jack, lick his lips when Wright said the Gothic words for fig-tree – smakka bagms.
Although Wright was a progressive to the extent that he believed women were entitled to a university education, he did not believe that women should be made voting members of the university, saying they were, "... less independent in judgement than men and apt to run in a body like sheep".
Although his energies were for the most part directed towards his work, Wright also enjoyed gardening and followed Yorkshire cricket and football teams.
At the age of seventy-four he succumbed to pneumonia, and died at his Oxford home, Thackley, 119 Banbury Road, on 27 February 1930, and was buried at Oxford.His last word was "Dictionary". In 1932 his widow, Elizabeth, published a biography of Wright, The Life of Joseph Wright.
Wright was an important early influence on J. R. R. Tolkien, and was one of his tutors at Oxford: studying the Grammar of the Gothic Language (1910) with Wright seems to have been a turning point in Tolkien's life.Writing to his son Michael in 1963, J. R. R. Tolkien reflected on his time studying with Wright:
Years before I had rejected as disgusting cynicism by an old vulgarian the words of warning given me by old Joseph Wright. ‘What do you take Oxford for, lad?’ ‘A university, a place of learning.’ ‘Nay, lad, it‘s a factory! And what’s it making? I‘ll tell you. It‘s making fees. Get that in your head, and you‘ll begin to understand what goes on.‘ Alas! by 1935 I now knew that it was perfectly true. At any rate as a key to dons‘ behaviour.
In the course of editing the Dictionary (1898), Wright corresponded regularly with Thomas Hardy about the Dorset dialect.
Wright was greatly admired by Virginia Woolf, who writes of him in her diary:
The triumph of learning is that it leaves something done solidly for ever. Everybody knows now about dialect, owing to his dixery.
Wright was Woolf's inspiration for the character of "Mr Brook" in The Pargiters (n.d.), an early draft of The Years (1937).
In the 2019 biopic Tolkien , Professor Wright is portrayed by Sir Derek Jacobi.
British English is the standard dialect of the English language as spoken and written in the United Kingdom. Variations exist in formal, written English in the United Kingdom. For example, the adjective wee is almost exclusively used in parts of Scotland, North East England, Ireland, and occasionally Yorkshire, whereas little is predominant elsewhere. Nevertheless, there is a meaningful degree of uniformity in written English within the United Kingdom, and this could be described by the term British English. The forms of spoken English, however, vary considerably more than in most other areas of the world where English is spoken, so a uniform concept of British English is more difficult to apply to the spoken language. According to Tom McArthur in the Oxford Guide to World English, British English shares "all the ambiguities and tensions in the word 'British' and as a result can be used and interpreted in two ways, more broadly or more narrowly, within a range of blurring and ambiguity".
The Germanic languages are a branch of the Indo-European language family spoken natively by a population of about 515 million people mainly in Europe, North America, Oceania and Southern Africa. The most widely spoken Germanic language, English, is the world's most widely spoken language with an estimated 2 billion speakers. All Germanic languages are derived from Proto-Germanic, spoken in Iron Age Scandinavia.
John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was an English writer, poet, philologist, and academic. He was the author of the high fantasy works The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
J. R. R. Tolkien constructed many Elvish languages. These were the various languages spoken by the Elves of Middle-earth as they developed as a society throughout the Ages. In his pursuit for realism and in his love of language, Tolkien was especially fascinated with the development and evolution of language through time. Tolkien created two almost fully developed languages, and a dozen more in various beginning stages as he studied and reproduced the way that language adapts and morphs. A philologist by profession, he spent much time on his constructed languages. In the collection of letters he had written, posthumously published by his son, Christopher John Tolkien, he even stated that he began his stories that were within this secondary world, the realm of Middle-earth, not with the characters or narrative as one would assume, but with a created set of languages. The stories and characters serve to be the conduits to make those languages come to life. Inventing language was always a crucial piece to Tolkien's mythology and world-building.
The philologist and author J. R. R. Tolkien created a number of constructed languages, including languages devised for fictional settings. Inventing languages, something that he called glossopoeia, was a lifelong occupation for Tolkien, starting in his teens. An early project was the reconstruction of an unrecorded early Germanic language which might have been spoken by the people of Beowulf in the Germanic Heroic Age.
In Germanic languages, weak verbs are by far the largest group of verbs, which are therefore often regarded as the norm, though they are not historically the oldest or most original group.
The Yorkshire dialect is an English dialect of Northern England spoken in the English county of Yorkshire. The dialect has roots in Old English and is influenced by Old Norse. The Yorkshire Dialect Society exists to promote use of the dialect in both humour and in serious linguistics; there is also an East Riding Dialect Society.
Alexander John Ellis, was an English mathematician, philologist and early phonetician who also influenced the field of musicology. He changed his name from his father's name Sharpe to his mother's maiden name, Ellis in 1825, as a condition of receiving significant financial support from a relative on his mother's side. He is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, London.
Mercian was a dialect spoken in the Anglo-Saxon kingdom of Mercia. Together with Northumbrian, it was one of the two Anglian dialects. The other two dialects of Old English were Kentish and West Saxon. Each of those dialects was associated with an independent kingdom on the island. Of these, all of Northumbria and most of Mercia were overrun by the Vikings during the 9th century. Part of Mercia and all of Kent were successfully defended but were then integrated into the Kingdom of Wessex. Because of the centralisation of power and the Viking invasions, there is little to no salvaged written evidence for the development of non-Wessex dialects after Alfred the Great's unification, until the Middle English period.
Clive Upton is an English linguist specializing in dialectology and sociolinguistics. He is also an authority on the pronunciation of English. He has been Emeritus Professor of Modern English Language at the University of Leeds since 2012.
Eric Valentine Gordon was a Canadian philologist, known as an editor of medieval Germanic texts and a teacher of medieval Germanic languages at the University of Leeds and the University of Manchester.
Frederic William Moorman (1872–1918) was a poet and playwright, and Professor of English Language at the University of Leeds from 1912 to 1918.
Th-fronting is the pronunciation of the English "th" as "f" or "v". When th-fronting is applied, becomes and becomes. Unlike the fronting of to, the fronting of to usually does not occur word-initially although this was found in the speech of South-East London in a survey completed 1990-4. Th-fronting is a prominent feature of several dialects of English, notably Cockney, Essex dialect, Estuary English, some West Country and Yorkshire dialects, African American Vernacular English, and Liberian English, as well as in many non-native English speakers.
The English Dialect Dictionary (EDD) is a dictionary of English dialects, compiled by Joseph Wright (1855–1930).
The Dialect Test was created by A.J. Ellis in February 1879, and was used in the fieldwork for his work On Early English Pronunciation. It stands as one of the earliest methods of identifying vowel sounds and features of speech. The aim was to capture the main vowel sounds of an individual dialect by listening to the reading of a short passage. All the categories of West Saxon words and vowels were included in the test so that comparisons could be made with the historic West Saxon speech as well as with various other dialects.
# So I say, mates, you see now that I am right about that little girl coming from the school yonder.
- She is going down the road there through the red gate on the left hand side of the way.
- Sure enough, the child has gone straight up to the door of the wrong house,
- where she will chance to find that drunken deaf shrivelled fellow of the name of Thomas.
- We all know him very well.
- Won't the old chap soon teach her not to do it again, poor thing!
- Look! Isn't it true?
Gothic is an extinct East Germanic language that was spoken by the Goths. It is known primarily from the Codex Argenteus, a 6th-century copy of a 4th-century Bible translation, and is the only East Germanic language with a sizable text corpus. All others, including Burgundian and Vandalic, are known, if at all, only from proper names that survived in historical accounts, and from loanwords in other languages such as Portuguese, Spanish, and French.
The English language spoken and written in England encompasses a diverse range of accents and dialects. The dialect forms part of the broader British English, along with other varieties in the United Kingdom. Terms used to refer to the English language spoken and written in England include: English English, Anglo-English and British English in England.
The English word twat is a vulgarism which literally means the vulva or vagina, and is used figuratively as a derogatory epithet. In British English the epithet denotes an obnoxious or stupid person of either sex, whereas in American English it is rarer and usually applied to a woman. In Britain the usual current pronunciation is ; the older pronunciation, still usual in America, is, reflected in the former variant spelling twot. The literal sense is first attested in 1656, the epithet in the 1930s. The word's etymology is uncertain. The American Heritage Dictionary suggests a conjectural Old English word *thwāt, "a cut", cognate with Old Norse þveit (thveit). Jonathon Green suggests a connection with twitchel, a dialect term for a narrow passage.
An orc is a fictional humanoid monster akin to a goblin. Orcs were brought into modern usage by the fantasy writings of J. R. R. Tolkien, especially The Lord of the Rings. In Tolkien's works, orcs are a brutish, aggressive, ugly and malevolent race, contrasting with the benevolent Elves and serving an evil power, though they share a human sense of morality. His description of them has been criticised as caricature-like, even racist by some commentators, though others have noted that Tolkien was clearly anti-racist by intention.
Sindarin is one of the fictional languages devised by J. R. R. Tolkien for use in his fantasy stories set in Arda, primarily in Middle-earth. Sindarin is one of the many languages spoken by the Elves, called the Eledhrim[ɛˈlɛðrɪm] or Edhellim[ɛˈðɛlːɪm] in Sindarin. The word Sindarin is itself a Quenya form, as the Sindar, or "Grey Elves" themselves did not have a name for it, likely simply calling it "Edhellen" (Elvish).