Nantglyn

Topic:
The speaker talks about cattle farming.
Speaker:
Mr R. (male)
Date:
1976
Duration:
7'05"
Shelfmark:
C1314/02/07 © Survey of Anglo-Welsh Dialects

    

Transcript for Nantglyn

Lynne: If a cow hasn’t got any horns, you say it’s what?

Mr R.: Oh yes, uh, I don’t know what to think of this word, really, uh, any horns, see. De, uh, they, uh, they dehorn the cows, don’t they.

Lynne: Do they?

Mr R.: Yes, uh, in a lot of places now they don’t keep, uh, let them grow, see.

Lynne: Why?

Mr R.: Because they are butting each other, aren’t they?

Lynne: Oh, I see.

Mr R.: Yeah, and, uh, they’re dangerous. Some come in the, some, in, uh, winter time, they, sometimes they happen to lose the chain, you know.

Lynne: Ah, yeah.

Mr R.: Then they’d be with their horns in the other cows, see, and they can’t roam, can they?

Lynne: No, they would be able to run off, would they?

Mr R.: Yes, so they dehorn them, they’re better.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Yeah. Lots of people do that now.

Lynne: Does it hurt them?

Mr R.: Yes, a bit but they dehorn them when they’re young, you know.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Like calves really.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: Just, uh, like that then – hot iron on them, you know, up there. Give them, uh, something to, one of them, not to, to feel

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Yeah.

Lynne: Yeah, I see.

Mr R.: the pain like.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: They got something to, uh, like injection first.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: And then dehorn them after, see, when they’re just like that, you know. Then they won’t grow. Until they are big they’ll grow again, won’t they?

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: They’ve been, uh, some people’ve been, uh, saw them out, you know. They’re strong like that, see, start it slowly like that. Bleeding, isn’t it.

Lynne: Ow.

Mr R.: Then you get some hot iron on them after, to stop them.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: Yeah.

Lynne: Oh, I’m glad I’m not a cow.

[laughter]

Lynne: If you, sort of, see the cows lying down in the field and doing that, what do you say they’re doing?

Mr R.: Oh, chewing the cud, isn’t it.

Lynne: Uhuh.

Mr R.: Yeah.

Lynne: Uhm, when you were, sort of, looking after your cows in the old-fashioned way what d, what did you used to do, what kind of things did you used to do?

Mr R.: Look after the cows in the old-fashioned way, there?

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: Oh we, uh, we, uh, we used to, to milk them with hands at that time in the stall, isn’t it.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: The old-fashioned two or three milking in the, in the shippon, you know.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: And then they were like that, isn’t it, down to the can, fill it up like that.

Lynne: Did it taste nice?

Mr R.: Yes, very nice and keep it clean, isn’t it.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: Wash your hands before and, uh, after as well, you know.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Yes.

Lynne: What did you do to keep the cattle from going hungry?

Mr R.: Oh, when they’re in fields you mean?

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Change them to another field, isn’t it.

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: When they, uh, the, the grass gone short you had to change them, see,

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: to another field, then they are all right, aren’t they?

Lynne: Ahem. What did you do when they were actually in the, in the shippon?

Mr R.: Oh, give them some hay

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: and turnips and straw and cake.

Lynne: [laughs] Cake?

Mr R.: Yeah.

Unidentified female: Nuts, you know, nuts.

Mr R.: Nuts, uh, it’s a cake they call it, we call it cake.

Unidentified female: Nuts and

Mr R.: Yes.

Lynne: Oh, lovely. Uhm.

Mr R.: Of course, that cake’s from the mill, you know, they’re making, put, uh, cakes to the cattles, you see in place, isn’t it, out of, uh, f, uh, uh, beans and things like that, you know.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: Beans, uh, they mill it and make it into flour, isn’t it. Beans and what else do they use a lot of things. And, uh, a lot of places they use, uh, uh, what do you call it? Uhm, I can’t remember the thing now. Beside turnips, they’re giving them

Unidentified female: [inaudible]1

Mr R.: Yeah – flakes, isn’t it.

Unidentified female: Yes. [inaudible]1

Mr R.: Don’t know where it’s come from, another country I suppose, isn’t it.

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: overseas, see, and then you could get plenty from the merchant in Denbigh2.

Lynne: Hmm.

Mr R.: And they were bringing you a ton or two sometimes. To help, isn’t it.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Then they’ll give more milk, won’t they?

Lynne: Hmm.

Unidentified female: Nuts good for milk, is it?

Mr R.: Hmm?

Unidentified female: Nuts good for milk.

Mr R.: Yeah.

Lynne: Are they?

Mr R.: Yeah.

Unidentified female: Nuts, yes, very good for the milk.

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: But, what are they made of them nuts, you know? Lot of things in it, I suppose, isn’t it.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: They’re coming from the mill, see, with flour, every kind of thing

Unidentified female: Sort of flour, I suppose, isn’t it?

Mr R.: Yeah.

Lynne: And sort of made, are they?

Unidentified female: Nuts.

Lynne: Yeah, they’re

Mr R.: Eh?

Lynne: they’re made out of stuff, these nuts?

Mr R.: Yes, yes. Well, some people’re calling them treacle and things like that, you know, isn’t it.

Lynne: Do they?

Mr R.: When there’s

Unidentified female: Treacle on the top

Mr R.: Yeah. To keep them, uh, like, when there’s, st, a lot of straw and, uh, bad hay and things like that

Lynne: Yeah

Mr R.: Some people has been giving them when there’s bad hay, bad year, some salt on top of it.

[laughter]

Unidentified female: Can they put the treacle on the silage?

Mr R.: I don’t know, no, I don’t think.

Unidentified female: No, it’s good enough, is it, without

Mr R.: Yes, silage.

Unidentified female: anything else.

Mr R.: You cut the hay first to have silage for the cattle, isn’t it. Cut the hay or leave it, cut it early

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: and just like that, and it’s very strong you know, isn’t it.

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: Then they cut it and, uh, get it in when it’s quite, uh, hasn’t been much to, some of it, see.

Lynne: Ah, I see.

Mr R.: It’s very hot and, uh, good stuff, you know, [inaudible]1

Lynne: What do you do, uh, what did you used to do when they were thirsty and you had to, did you used to, sort of, turn them out?

Mr R.: Yeah, when they, you know, no water inside the shippons, uh, in, in the winter times then you had to turn them out twice a day, isn’t it.

Lynne: Where did they used to get the drink from, then?

Mr R.: Eh?

Lynne: Did they used to

Mr R.: Oh yes, we, down at our place we’ve got, uh, uh, pipes coming from the, from the well, you see.

Lynne: Oh, I see.

Mr R.: And plenty of, uh, plenty of, uh, then you turn the taps there, to one of the, the cis, cistern, you know, what you call them, isn’t it

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: and then they’ll go there and drink a lot, when they’re hot like that, you know, drinking it down like that

[laughter]

Lynne: Did it sort of pour into

Mr R.: Gallons.

Lynne: a trough or something?

Mr R.: Eh, Lynne, I beg, pardon?

Lynne: Did, did water come into a trough or something?

Mr R.: Yes, to a, yes, big trough, isn’t it.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: Just in the reach of the cows, see.

Lynne: Yeah.

Mr R.: And then they’d go, come there and down they’d go and, sort of, is it four or five together, isn’t it.

Lynne: Ahem.

Mr R.: And then when they’d got enough, they’d go from there and the others, some other cows would come after that, like that, you know, in turns, see, yeah.

Lynne: [laughs] Queue up.

Mr R.: [laughs] Yes, they do.

Notes

1 This phrase is unclear, but a possible interpretation has been supplied.
2 Denbigh is a town just to the north east of Nantglyn.

Commentary for Nantglyn

Mr R's speech is interesting in a number of ways as he uses a number of grammatical constructions that are often considered stereotypically Welsh.

Anglo-Welsh grammar

Listen, first of all, to the statements of course that cake’s from the mill, you know – they’re making, put, uh cakes to the cattle […] out of, uh, beans and things like that, you know; beside turnips they’re giving them […] flakes, isn’t it and some people’re calling them treacle and things like that, you know, isn’t it. The use of progressive aspect in most dialects of English usually implies an action is current and ongoing. Standard English, for instance, would require a simple construction here – they make, they give, some people call. The use of progressive aspect in this way is, however, quite common among older speakers in many parts of Wales.

Secondly, the frequent use of the phrase isn't it is particularly revealing in phrases such as the following: we used to milk them with hands at that time in the stall, isn't it; keep it clean, isn't it – wash your hands before and, uh, after as well; change them to another field, isn't it; they mill it and make it into flour, isn’t it; you cut the hay first to have silage for the cow, isn’t it and you had to turn them out twice a day, isn’t it. We use tag-questions, such as don't you, couldn't he, wasn't it and so on, at the end of statements to confirm that a listener has understood what we are talking about or to invite them to confirm or dispute something we have just said. In Standard English, however, a tag-question refers back to the subject of the previous clause and thus, for instance, the statement they mill it and make it into flour, isn't it would normally be rendered they mill it and make it into flour, don't they. Some speakers in Wales and in the West Country, however, use an invariant, universal tag-question, isn't it, without modifying the construction according to the subject of the main clause.

Isn’t it, n’est-ce pas and innit

An invariant tag is not an uncommon linguistic feature – French speakers use n'est-ce pas in much the same way and indeed many younger speakers throughout the UK now use an invariant tag, innit, that is the grammatical equivalent of Anglo-Welsh isn’t it, albeit with a very different pronunciation from the one Mr R. uses here. The apparently rapid spread of the all-purpose tag, innit, among young speakers here in the UK has been variously ascribed to use among the British Caribbean or British Asian communities, but we should not overlook the fact that it is also part of a more native British tradition, as evidenced by Mr R here.