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strawmote, stunpoll Options
FROSTY X RIME
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 9:25:59 AM

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Hello all,

I am having difficulty understanding the bold underlined part in the following text.
Will you help me out?

"He and your mother were the couple married just afore we were, and there stood thy father's cross with arms stretched out like a great banging scarecrow. What a terrible black cross that was-thy father's very likeness in en! To save my soul I couldn't help laughing when I zid en, though all the time I was hot as a dog days, what with the marrying, and what with the woman a-hanging to me, and what with Jack Changley and a lot more chaps grinning at me through the church window. But the next moment a strawmote would have knocked me down, for I called to mind that if thy father and mother had had high words, once, they'd been at it twenty times since they'd been man and wife and I zid myself as the next poor stunpoll to get into the same mess... Ah - well, what a day 'twas!'"


-the chapter three, the custom of the country, the Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy-

What should be shall be-The fellowship of the ring-
thar
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 11:35:15 AM

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Strawmote - a mote of straw.
Ie, strawdust, something so small and light could have knocked him down, he was so shocked.


Standard equivalent - you could have knocked me over with a feather


Read them out loud - slow and broad:


Zid - seed.
Past participle of 'see'.
I seed myself as....

Edit - I see Drago has already answered this elsewhere. But my advice holds - don't just read the words - hear the zounds.


Stunpoll - a poll of stone
Poll - head
Stun - stone

Standard equivalent - a blockhead, thickhead - idiot! d'oh!

the next moment a strawmote would have knocked me down, for I called to mind that if thy father and mother had had high words, once, they'd been at it twenty times since they'd been man and wife and I zid myself as the next poor stunpoll to get into the same mess... Ah - well, what a day 'twas!'"


The next moment a speck of straw could have knocked me down, for I remembered that if your father and mother had argued once, they'd done it a thousand times since they'd got married. And I saw myself as the next poor idiot to get into the same mess.

Sarrriesfan
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 11:35:46 AM
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Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
A mote is a small piece, particle or speck of something, a straw one would be a small piece of straw.
It is used is a similar way to the modern idiom '"You could have knocked me down with a feather".
He is so surprise by his thought that even a tiny small object could have knocked him down.

A stunpoll is a word for a dimwit.

I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
FROSTY X RIME
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 1:29:05 PM

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Joined: 10/20/2015
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I see!

Thank you so much both, especially to thar for your kind explanation to the full.

I never knew one of definition of the word "poll" is "head" in my living years.
How surprising it is to me that "having high words" means "having an argument"!

Splendid!

My special thanks to thar again.



What should be shall be-The fellowship of the ring-
thar
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 1:43:44 PM

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'poll' is certainly not common speech for human heads. Archaisc or dialect only. But it is used for animals.




It also means that is the top - in that a poll sheep is a sheep without horns.

But there are lots of derived terms.

A poll in terms of voting is from the same thing - a count of people - heads!
Poll tax - payed per head, not per household.

For those people who vote at the local hairdressers, it has come full circle! Whistle



Also pollarding trees - giving them a haircut like trimming the horns of animals or the hair of people.

FROSTY X RIME
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 1:54:24 PM

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I see, thar!
You are absolutely a treasure of TFD.
Thanks again.

What should be shall be-The fellowship of the ring-
taurine
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 2:15:01 PM

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With due respect to my well-entrenched in the English language books predecessors, I wish to state that:
"[...] when I zid en [...] means, as taken from the Yiddish dictionary (regrettably I am not a Jew): a curse. In the result, while saying that "when I zid en" may in the English language, "when I curse". But I am well-known that I do no swear, so I am not going to repeat it.
Romany
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 5:50:55 PM
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Taurine -

If you've read any of the threads that we have had on TFD about dialect, you will know that, even to-day, Drago or I can cite words which the other has never heard in their life; they are dialect words.

At the time when Hardy was writing, and in the times he wrote about, the whole of Britain still used dialects - some of which were unintelligible to others. Hardy's place in English Literature was won because he didn't write only about people who spoke the beautiful, grammatical language of, say, a Jane Austen, nor the London cant of Dickens:- at a time when rural England was becoming rapidly urban, he captured the speech of the vanishing countryside.

So we are used to coming across dialect words which are strange to us sometimes in his books. Linguists, in fact, mine his works for traces of lost English dialects.

A rather common aspect of quite a few dialects is to retain the Dutch pronunciation of z for s. We have well-know phrases which illustrate this - e.g. "Oi zed to myself, zed Oi",(I said to myself, said I) and one that even featured in a song: "Zee be down frum Zomerzet, where the Zider apples growz." ("She's come down from Somerset, where the Cider apples grow.')

So I rather think that both Thar and Drago have it right: words beginning with 'z' in country-speech are usually all simply written the way they are said.Not the way we are used to seeing them spelled. In this particular instance it would be far better to look into information about English dialect in rural England, than to go looking to other languages or eras, for help with making sense of it.

As Drago said, right at the beginning: it's a VERY difficult text. Even for students who are studying Literature and/or linguistics Hardy can be hard going.

Until one learns to just relax and go with the flow of the language, Hardy is a difficult writer to tackle with no contextual background.

And, seriously: if you find you simply can't get to hear the flow of the language yet, it might be more usefull to put it aside for a little while, and read a book that might be of more use to you now; rather than the way some English sounded in the 19thCentury?

Meanwhile of course, if you really want to keep at it, then you go for it. I'm sure you'll get lots of helpfull suggestions.
Sarrriesfan
Posted: Friday, March 03, 2017 7:09:44 PM
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Joined: 3/30/2016
Posts: 422
Neurons: 2,701
Location: Luton, England, United Kingdom
I agree with Romany, Drago,and Thar are correct the 'z' represent the 's' sound in that dialect of England.

It's intresting that 'zid' is a curse word in Yiddish Taurine, but in the context of Thomas Hardys writings it refers to the dialects of the Dorset region he writes about. The counties of Dorset and Somerset that Romany mentions share a border and are quite similar rural areas even now.


I lack the imagination for a witty signature.
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