Mrs. B. talks about cockle picking.
Mrs. B. (female; cockle picker)
C1314/11/10 © Survey of Anglo-Welsh Dialects


Transcript for Pen-clawdd

Patricia: Uhm, when you used to go cockling, uhm, did you used to use a donkey?

Mrs. B.: Yes, uh, I used three, two donkeys.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: And load the two.

Patricia: Hmm. How would, you’d have to go out then when the tides were going out, would you?

Mrs. B.: Yes, we used to go out three o’clock in the morning

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: you’d be in about eight o’clock, then.

Patricia: Ahem.

Mrs. B: We’d, because two tides a day, see, in the summer time the evenings are long.

Patricia: Yeah, yeah.

Mrs. B.: Well, then we’d, uh, carry on then perhaps we’d have to cook some of the cockles. Then we’d go out then, in the second tide.

Patricia: Ahem.

Mrs. B.: And in again.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: Two tides a day.

Patricia: How did you manage if it was dark, though. How did you see out there at three o’clock in the morning?

Mrs. B.: Well in the summer time it’s

Patricia: Oh, it’s light there, yeah.

Mrs. B.: it’s light see.

Patricia: Yeah.

Mrs. B.: But not in the,

Patricia: Oh, I see you didn’t go out in the winter that tide?

Mrs. B.: not two tides in the winter, one tide in the winter

Patricia: Hmm, hmm.

Mrs. B.: because of the darkness.

Patricia: Hmm. And what days did you used to go?

Mrs. B.: Well, Mondays

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: uhm, Monday, cockles in the shells on a Monday, away on a Tuesday selling cockles in the shells

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: selling those we gathered Monday.

Patricia: Yeah, yeah. So, if you were selling them in the shells then you wouldn’t have to boil them or anything?

Mrs. B.: You didn’t have to boil them.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: Hmm.

Patricia: Where did you go then, to the market around about

Mrs. B.: Around Morriston1 way.

Patricia: Hmm. So, you didn’t have a, a stand in the market?

Mrs. B.: No, no. Some did

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: but we didn’t around, we were going to our customers around the houses.

Patricia: How did you used to get up to Morriston then?

Mrs. B.: By train and trams – the trams was then see.

Patricia: Oh, good lord, I didn’t realise the trams went up to Morriston!

Mrs. B.: Yeah, the trams was going to Morriston.

Patricia: Yeah. Then you’d have to carry the cockles?

Mrs. B.: Ah, we used to, uh, then, whether, uh, uh, say now, by our customers, we used to leave our bags there then and go back and forth then, see, to fetch them.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: Till we’d finished.

Patricia: Hmm. So, uhm, how did you pick the cockles?

Mrs. B.: Oh, with a, it’s like a kind of a knife, see, and a s, and

Patricia: I’ve got pictures here – what, like that?

Mrs. B.: We used to rake them in the sieve, look.

Patricia: Yeah.

Mrs. B.: That’s right, those two now.

Patricia: Yeah.

Mrs. B.: Those two, we used to have, to have them up, then rake them on this

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: and sieve them.

Patricia: Hmm, hmm, sort of, like

Mrs. B.: Is that the big rake then?

Patricia: It’s like a big rake with a net, net on it. I found these pictures in an old book. I’ve cut them out.

Mrs. B.: Yeah.

Patricia: Did you used to use something like that?

Mrs. B.: No.

Patricia: You haven’t seen that?

Mrs. B.: Yes, there were, there were rakes.

Patricia: That one?

Mrs. B.: That’s the one and these two and the sieve.

Patricia: Hmm. What did you used to call them? Did you have a Welsh name for them or, or the rakes?

Mrs. B.: Sife2 we used to call that.

Patricia: Yeah.

Mrs. B.: Rhaca3 hir4 this.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: Craam, rhaca fach5.

Patricia: Hmm. In this dredge thing

Mrs. B.: Yeah, that’s for

Patricia: they didn’t used to use that in Pen-clawdd, did they?

Mrs. B.: uh, shrimping, I think.

Patricia: Shrimping?

Mrs. B.: For shrimps.

Patricia: Yeah.

Mrs. B.: Yeah.

Patricia: Oh, so they were the sort of tools you would use, those ones?

Mrs. B.: Yes, those are the ones we were using.

Patricia: Hmm. And, uh, what did you used to have to wear to go out on the marsh?

Mrs. B.: Uh, years ago

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: naily boots.

Patricia: Oh, what are they like?

Mrs. B.: Naily boots, you know a, a boot like, uh, the men used to have.

Patricia: What, leather boots?

Mrs. B.: Leather, naily boots.

Patricia: Yeah, yeah.

Mrs. B.: Then

Patricia: So, did you [inaudible]6

Mrs. B.: but then at the last now, wellingtons.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: These weren’t made then, you see.

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: Years ago.

Patricia: Hmm. So, you didn’t have waterproof shoes or anything, then?

Mrs. B.: N, no, nothing at all until the last couple of years before we finished

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: we had wellingtons and

Patricia: Hmm.

Mrs. B.: rubber gloves. We had nothing before.

Patricia: So your hands just got cold?

Mrs. B.: Yes, we was putting them in the sand like this.

Patricia: Good lord, do you get chilblains, then?

Mrs. B.: No, very good.

Patricia: Good lord.

Mrs. B.: Yes, very good.


1 Morriston is on the outskirts of Swansea just to the east of Pen-clawdd.
2 sife is Welsh for ‘sieve’.
3 rhaca is Welsh for ‘rake’.
4 hir is Welsh for ‘long’.
5 fach is Welsh for ‘little’.
6 [inaudible] indicates a passage or phrase where the speaker’s exact words are unclear.

Commentary for Pen-clawdd

There are a number of interesting aspects of Mrs. B's accent that clearly identify her as a speaker from the Gower peninsula.

The Welsh 'lilt'

Above all the rhythm and intonation of her speech is typical of the English spoken in South Wales. We often describe this phenomenon as a 'sing-song' accent or refer to it as a lilt – an auditory effect that is the result of the slightly different stress patterns of Welsh English and of the characteristic way in which many Welsh speakers lengthen the duration of a consonant in the middle of a word or between vowels. This is a very subtle feature, but certainly audible here, for instance, on the words shrimping, wellingtons and rubber. The intonation pattern of many speakers in South Wales is also noticeably different from most other accents of English. While the vast majority of speakers in England, for instance, use a falling intonation for declarative statements and a rising intonation to indicate a question, Mrs. B. demonstrates that this distinction does not always hold true for Welsh English. Listen carefully and you will notice how some of her statements are uttered with a gradual rise in pitch that peaks on the final syllable. Listen particularly to the following statements: we used to go out three o’clock in the morning; you’d be in about eight o’clock then; perhaps we’d have to cook some of the cockles; cockles in the shells on a Monday; then rake them on this and sieve them and that’s for shrimping.

The Welsh rolled ‘r’

There is also a tendency among older speakers in areas where the Welsh language has a strong presence for many <r> sounds to be articulated with a characteristic trill or roll, as here in the words carry, Morriston, back and forth, rake, shrimping, years ago, weren’t, rubber gloves and very good. This is often used by speakers imitating a stereotypically broad Welsh accent, although it is actually relatively rare nowadays as an authentic phenomenon. We can, however, clearly hear this articulation on a number of English words and also when Mrs. B. uses Welsh words featuring an <r> sound, such as rhaca ('rake') and rhacafach ('short rake').