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Alice’s Adventchers in Wunderland
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland in Scouse

Alice’s Adventchers in Wunderland

By Lewis Carroll, translated into Scouse by Marvin R. Sumner

First edition, 2015. Illustrations by John Tenniel. Portlaoise: Evertype. ISBN 978-1-78201-107-1 (paperback), price: €12.95, £10.95, $15.95.

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“In dat direction,” de Moggy said, wavin its right paw round, “lives a Atter: an in dat direction,” wavin de udder paw, “lives a March Are. Visit eider you like: dey’re both mad.”   “In that direction,” the Cat said, waving its right paw around, “lives a Hatter: and in that direction,” waving the other paw, “lives a March Hare. Visit either you like: they’re both mad.”
“Burr’I do’n wanna go among mad people, “Alice remarked.   “But I don’t want to go among mad people,” Alice remarked.
“Oh, you caan’t elp dat,” said de Moggy: “we’re all mad ere. I’m mad. You’re mad.”   “Oh, you ca’n’t help that,” said the Cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”
“Ow d’you know I’m mad?” said Alice.   “How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.
“You gorra be,” said de Moggy, “or you would’n ave come ere.”   “You must be,” said the Cat, “or you wouldn't have come here.”
"Scouse" is the name of the unique dialect of English spoken in Liverpool. It is a relatively new dialect, dating to the 19th century, showing some influence of speakers from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland. The Beatles are perhaps the most famous speakers of Scouse, or at least the first speakers who came to public prominence outside the Liverpool region. This book contains a brief sketch of the orthographic principles used in presenting the Liver­pudlian dialect in this edition. The Scouse translation was first prepared by Marvin R. Sumner in 1990, and is now published for the first time in anticipation of the "Alice 150" celebra­tions being held in 2015.

On Dialect Orthography

Publishing text in an unstandardized orthography is a challenge. A balance must be found between faithful­ness to the sounds of the dialect and legibility to an audience who reads the standard language. English dialect spellings are nothing new, of course: from Robert Louis Stevenson’s representation of Scots in Kidnapped to Mark Twain’s repre­sentation of Missouri dialect in his Adventures of Huckle­berry Finn various approaches have been taken. Often these approaches make use of what is known as “the apologetic apostrophe” to mark letters from the standard language which have been “dropped”. In the case of Scouse, another feature, known as “eye dialect” is often found in dialect literature. This has been largely avoided here. Most dialect literature, whether poetry or prose, is fairly short and eye-dialect doesn’t necessarily confuse the reader. But in a 27,000-word novel, the representation of Queen as Kween (where there is arguably no pronunciation difference, though initial /k/ is strongly aspirated in Scouse and so this word can be [kʰwiːn] even [kˣwiːn], but the letter k doesn’t imply this vis à vis q.), or re-spelling words for re-spelling’s sake (should the Duchess put her arm around Alice’s waste rather than her waist?) ultimately makes the text harder to read, when instead the salient phonetic and grammatical features of the dialect are what is of interest. Here, we write know/knew rather than now/new, continued rather than kontinyewed, and mentioned rather than menshuned, rather following the Scots model, where a literary orthography differs from the standard language where necessary, but retains familiar word-shapes where possible. This practice was recognized in the 1947 Scots Style Sheet and the 1985 Recommendations for Writers in Scots, both of which discourage the apologetic apostrophe while retaining it for ordinary purposes. Many of these recommendations apply easily to the linguistic features of Scouse, and have been followed in the text used in this book. In the Evertype editions of Alice in Appalachian English and Cornu-English, the spellings used were regu­larized on similar literary orthographical grounds.

Since the reader may appreciate a summary of the ortho­graphic conventions used here for the Scouse dialect, a list is given below.

  • Words ending in -ing have been spelled as -in; participles in -en have been retained: writin ‘writing’, written ‘written’; words derived from -thing have been spelled -tin: sometin ‘something’.
  • The final apostrophe is not used: an ‘and’ is used instead of an’; em ‘them’ is used instead of ’em; o ‘of’ is used instead of o’.
  • Before a vowel o is written of: compare one o dem ‘one of them’ and one of ers ‘one of hers’.
  • The words he, his, him, her, it, they, their, and them are written e, iz, im, er, it, dey, deir, and dem.
  • Initial h- is dropped in ave ‘have’, ad ‘had’, and their derivatives, and generally, as in Atter ‘Hatter’, er ‘her’, oo ‘who’, ouse ‘house’; h- is kept orthographically when silent (honest, hour) or when sounded in the standard language (hm).
  • Initial wh- is retained although the pronunciation is [w] not [ʍ].
  • The merger of the vowel of “fur” (RP [fɜː]) with the vowel in “fair” ([fɛː]) is indicated by spellings like berd ‘bird’, ferst ‘first’, lerned ‘learned’, terned ‘turned’, werd ‘word’, and werse ‘worse’.
  • The fricative th is becomes t [θ > t] when voiceless and d [ð > d] when voiced (tink ‘think’, truw ‘through’, mout ‘mouth’, dat ‘that’, radder ‘rather’, wid ‘with’).
  • Contractions of the negative particle are treated in two ways. In monosyllables which end in a glottal stop, n’t is written: ain’t [ɛnʔ] ‘ain’t’, caan’t [kˣɑːnʔ] ‘can’t’, din’t [dɪnʔ] ‘didn’t’; but in others where the stop is lost ’n is used: do’n [dɛʉn], wo’n [wɛʉn]; in polysyllables the syllabic nasal is also written ’n: ad’n [ædn̩] ‘hadn’t’, is’n [ɪzn̩] ‘isn’t’, was’n [wəzn̩] ‘wasn’t’, could’n [kʊdn̩], should’n [ʃʊdn̩], would’n [wʊdn̩].
  • Final -st is often pronounced -ss; orthographically, “must” is written muss before consonants and in absolute final position, but must before vowels: muss be, must ave.
  • Final -nt is often pronounced -n; orthographically, “went” is written went [wɛnʔ] before consonants, but wenn [wɛn] before vowels: went down, wenn on.
  • Words in Scouse which have a short oo [ʊ] in the stan­dard language have a long one [uː] in Scouse; these are written with uw here (buwk ‘book’, cuwk ‘cook’, luwk ‘look’, shuwk ‘shook’). The graph uw is also used in truw ‘through’ (because trough would look like [tɹɒf].
  • Word-final -t becomes -r when the next word begins with a vowel. Such words have often been written as single words dialect writing (arrall ‘at all’, arrova ‘out of a’, birra ‘bit of’, burri ‘but I’, worrappenz ‘what happens’, since this process is productive and applies before polysyllabic words as well, it has been written -rr’ with the following word run-on here (arr’all, ourr’of a, birr’o, burr’I, wharr’appens).
  • The -t to -r shift also sometimes happens within words (gerrin ‘getting’, berrer ‘better’) no apostrophe is used here as there is no word boundary. There is sometimes ambiguity vis à vis the standard language; compare purrin [ˈpʊɹɪn] ‘putting’ with perrin [ˈpɛɹɪn] ‘purring’.
I would be interested to receive comment from readers regarding the suitability of this orthography for representing Scouse. Inevitably in such a venture there will be inconsis­tencies, of course. I trust these will not distract readers from their enjoyment of Marvin’s splendid translation.

Michael Everson
Portlaoise, July 2012

HTML Michael Everson, Evertype, 73 Woodgrove, Portlaoise, R32 ENP6, Ireland, 2015-07-23

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