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Blake’s Pronunciation

Blake’s Pronunciation by WilliamBlakewassensitivetodialectandmadedialectjokeshimself. Flaxman: How do you get on with Fuseli? I can't stand his foul-mouthedswearing.Doesheswearatyou? Blake: Hedoes. Flaxman: Andwhatdoyoudo? Blake: WhatdoIdo?Why--Iswearagain!andhesaysastonished,"vy, Blake, you are svaring! "butheleavesoffhimself! And he illustrates theyorkshire accent and French affectations of his bêtenoirRobertHartleyCromekin EnglishEncouragementofArt CromeksopinionputintoRhyme IfyoumustPleaseEverybodyyouwill MennywouverbothBunglishness&skill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Whenyoualookatapictureyoualwayscansee IfaManofSensehasPaintedhe[.] Thenneverflinchbutkeepupajaw Aboutfreedom&jennySuckawa' (Notebook,41) But what dialect did Blake use? What did he sound like when he spoke? Blake'scontemporariesdidnotcallhimaCockney,butsomemodAllquotationsfromBlakederivefrommyedition,William Blake's Writings(Oxford: ClarendonPress,1978)andwillbeidentifiedbypoem,song,orletterinthetablesthat accompanythisarticle.Biographicaldetailsnotedhereandelsewherearetakenfrommy Blake Records,2nded.(London:yaleUniversityPress,2004),72. In1827Blake'sintimatefriendGeorgeCumberlandimpliedthatBlake'spatronjohn Linnellwasa"Cockney,"butheisreferringtomannersnotspeech:"yourCockneysare allsodirectandhavinghadprobablylittleintercoursewithGentlemanarebrusqueand unreflecting"(Blake Records,478). 114 ©2010TheUniversityofNorthCarolinaPress erncriticshavedoneso.Forinstance,DavidPunterrefersto"theCockney,inwhichhe[Blake]wroteand,nodoubt,spoke."However,Ifind notraceofCockneypronunciation,suchasthetreatmentofaspirates (e.g.,"hartist"and"`orse"),inBlake'swritingsorintherecordsofhis speech.Sometimesthejustificationfortheterminvolvesawantonredefinition of "Cockney" apparently without regard to speech habits. PeterAckroyddescribesBlakeasa"Cockneyvisionary,"butforhim "Cockney"apparentlymeansaloverofLondon[likeSamueljohnson?] andisnotrelatedtospeechhabits. OneofthefewpiecesofevidencepointingtowardCockneypronunciationinBlake'sfamilyisthemistranscriptionof"Armitage,"thename ofthefirsthusbandofBlake'smother,as"Harmitage"whenshemarriedBlake'sfather.Theerrormustbeduetothesecondchurchclerk, forwhenthecouplewroteseparatelettersapplyingtojointheMoravianChurchCongregationin1750theysignedthemselves"Tho.sArtmitage"and"CatherineArmitage,"thoughtheMoravianrecordsrefer tothemindifferentlyas"Armitage"and"Hermitage." Blake is plausibly, but on remarkably little biographical evidence, saidtohavelearnedhislettersathismother'sknee.Hismother'sonly survivingletterindicatesthatshewasafarmoreerraticorthographer thanherson;shewrites"allways,""Bretheren,""frale,""halfe,""hapy," "hould"(for"hold"),"Ishallbeverythanku,""itt,""know"(for"now"), "lay" (for "lie"), "littell," "nor never," "pore crature," "rit" (for "written"), "rite" (for "write"), "satsfy," "Savour" (for "Saviour"), "Sistors," and "tast." Her son improved enormously on her teaching, though David Punter, "Blake and Gwendolen: Territory, Peripheryand the Proper Name," inEnglish Romantics and the Celtic World,ed.GerardCarruthersandAlanRawes(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,2003),68. PeterAckroyd,Blake(London:Sinclair-Stevenson,1995),92. AckroydusesBlake,CharlesDickens,andj.M.W.Turnerasexemplarsof"London luminariesandCockneyswhointheirarthaveexpressedthetruenatureandspiritof" London("CockneyVisionaries," Independent,18Dec1993,p.27). Blake Records,4,7.Thefirstlistingrecordedwasin1746bythechurchclerknamed jamesFrithandthesecondin1752bythechurchclerknamedBaillie.Bothmarriagestook placeinSt.George'sChapel,HanoverSquare. ThelettersandchurchrecordsareamongtheMoravianChurchRecordsinLondon. Blakewrote:"ThankGodIneverwassenttoSchoolTobeflogdintofollowingthe StyleofaFool"("yousaytheirpictures,"Notebook,41).Thebestcontemporaryevidence ofhiselementaryschoolingisCunningham'sstatementthathe"wasprivatelyencouragedbyhismother"inhisloveofart(Blake Records,628). CatherineArmitage'sletter,probablyofNov1750,to"MyDearBretheren&Sistors" of the Moravian congregation (in the Moravian Archives in London), was reproduced onlineinKeriDavies,"TheLostMoravianHistoryofWilliamBlake'sFamily:Snapshots fromanArchive,"Literature Compass(2006),1309http://www.literature-compass.com. oftenhisorthographyisold-fashionedasin"tyger"and"compleat."0 Herspellingmayindicatesomethingofthepronunciationshelearned http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Studies in Philology University of North Carolina Press

Blake’s Pronunciation

Studies in Philology , Volume 107 (1) – Jan 13, 2009

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Abstract

by WilliamBlakewassensitivetodialectandmadedialectjokeshimself. Flaxman: How do you get on with Fuseli? I can't stand his foul-mouthedswearing.Doesheswearatyou? Blake: Hedoes. Flaxman: Andwhatdoyoudo? Blake: WhatdoIdo?Why--Iswearagain!andhesaysastonished,"vy, Blake, you are svaring! "butheleavesoffhimself! And he illustrates theyorkshire accent and French affectations of his bêtenoirRobertHartleyCromekin EnglishEncouragementofArt CromeksopinionputintoRhyme IfyoumustPleaseEverybodyyouwill MennywouverbothBunglishness&skill . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Whenyoualookatapictureyoualwayscansee IfaManofSensehasPaintedhe[.] Thenneverflinchbutkeepupajaw Aboutfreedom&jennySuckawa' (Notebook,41) But what dialect did Blake use? What did he sound like when he spoke? Blake'scontemporariesdidnotcallhimaCockney,butsomemodAllquotationsfromBlakederivefrommyedition,William Blake's Writings(Oxford: ClarendonPress,1978)andwillbeidentifiedbypoem,song,orletterinthetablesthat accompanythisarticle.Biographicaldetailsnotedhereandelsewherearetakenfrommy Blake Records,2nded.(London:yaleUniversityPress,2004),72. In1827Blake'sintimatefriendGeorgeCumberlandimpliedthatBlake'spatronjohn Linnellwasa"Cockney,"butheisreferringtomannersnotspeech:"yourCockneysare allsodirectandhavinghadprobablylittleintercoursewithGentlemanarebrusqueand unreflecting"(Blake Records,478). 114 ©2010TheUniversityofNorthCarolinaPress erncriticshavedoneso.Forinstance,DavidPunterrefersto"theCockney,inwhichhe[Blake]wroteand,nodoubt,spoke."However,Ifind notraceofCockneypronunciation,suchasthetreatmentofaspirates (e.g.,"hartist"and"`orse"),inBlake'swritingsorintherecordsofhis speech.Sometimesthejustificationfortheterminvolvesawantonredefinition of "Cockney" apparently without regard to speech habits. PeterAckroyddescribesBlakeasa"Cockneyvisionary,"butforhim "Cockney"apparentlymeansaloverofLondon[likeSamueljohnson?] andisnotrelatedtospeechhabits. OneofthefewpiecesofevidencepointingtowardCockneypronunciationinBlake'sfamilyisthemistranscriptionof"Armitage,"thename ofthefirsthusbandofBlake'smother,as"Harmitage"whenshemarriedBlake'sfather.Theerrormustbeduetothesecondchurchclerk, forwhenthecouplewroteseparatelettersapplyingtojointheMoravianChurchCongregationin1750theysignedthemselves"Tho.sArtmitage"and"CatherineArmitage,"thoughtheMoravianrecordsrefer tothemindifferentlyas"Armitage"and"Hermitage." Blake is plausibly, but on remarkably little biographical evidence, saidtohavelearnedhislettersathismother'sknee.Hismother'sonly survivingletterindicatesthatshewasafarmoreerraticorthographer thanherson;shewrites"allways,""Bretheren,""frale,""halfe,""hapy," "hould"(for"hold"),"Ishallbeverythanku,""itt,""know"(for"now"), "lay" (for "lie"), "littell," "nor never," "pore crature," "rit" (for "written"), "rite" (for "write"), "satsfy," "Savour" (for "Saviour"), "Sistors," and "tast." Her son improved enormously on her teaching, though David Punter, "Blake and Gwendolen: Territory, Peripheryand the Proper Name," inEnglish Romantics and the Celtic World,ed.GerardCarruthersandAlanRawes(Cambridge:CambridgeUniversityPress,2003),68. PeterAckroyd,Blake(London:Sinclair-Stevenson,1995),92. AckroydusesBlake,CharlesDickens,andj.M.W.Turnerasexemplarsof"London luminariesandCockneyswhointheirarthaveexpressedthetruenatureandspiritof" London("CockneyVisionaries," Independent,18Dec1993,p.27). Blake Records,4,7.Thefirstlistingrecordedwasin1746bythechurchclerknamed jamesFrithandthesecondin1752bythechurchclerknamedBaillie.Bothmarriagestook placeinSt.George'sChapel,HanoverSquare. ThelettersandchurchrecordsareamongtheMoravianChurchRecordsinLondon. Blakewrote:"ThankGodIneverwassenttoSchoolTobeflogdintofollowingthe StyleofaFool"("yousaytheirpictures,"Notebook,41).Thebestcontemporaryevidence ofhiselementaryschoolingisCunningham'sstatementthathe"wasprivatelyencouragedbyhismother"inhisloveofart(Blake Records,628). CatherineArmitage'sletter,probablyofNov1750,to"MyDearBretheren&Sistors" of the Moravian congregation (in the Moravian Archives in London), was reproduced onlineinKeriDavies,"TheLostMoravianHistoryofWilliamBlake'sFamily:Snapshots fromanArchive,"Literature Compass(2006),1309http://www.literature-compass.com. oftenhisorthographyisold-fashionedasin"tyger"and"compleat."0 Herspellingmayindicatesomethingofthepronunciationshelearned

Journal

Studies in PhilologyUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jan 13, 2009

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