This delightful book on Amazon (also available on Kindle) by Sam Bourne called 'The best poacher in Sussex' gives a fascinating insight into living in Sussex in the early 20th century.
Sam was born in Cuckfield in 1878, married a Mitchell sister, then moved to Queens Road, Haywards Heath. It tells how he struggled in his early married life to put food on the family table at a time when earning even to get by was very difficult. In Chapter 8 Ken recalls his grandfather's use of Sussex dialect:
In the 1940s and 50's the Sussex Dialect was often heard spoken by the older generations. Often people who were born in Sussex stayed and worked in Sussex all their lives. In fact most people would live within 5 miles of where they were born. Consequently, local words and the method of pronouncing them would be passed from generation to generation.
Anyone with a different accent would be classed as a foreigner Some people who started to move to Sussex for its convenient commuting distance and train service to London would often comment that the Sussex dialect was common. We thought Cockney was common! And we always thought that 'posh' people spoke with a in their mouths.
Here are some of the words and phrases he used with the translation where needed.
I be gonna teach you summat bout fishier
Don't y tell no gurt = Do not tell any big lies
Y dursn't do that" = You should not do that
Don'worry they durdledores dunno sting = Don't worry those bumble bees do not sting
All things in Sussex be a she, bar they Tom Cats, and they be a he
He wersent late sure-Iye? = Surely he was not late
He would pronounce:
violet as voylet
Pony as Po or-nee
Mice as meeces
Morning as marnin
He often said to me: Don't y be addle headed = Don't be stupid
Dinna argify with I = Do not not argue with me
He be abeatin the Devil round the gooseberry bush = He is taking a long time to get to the point of a story
l have not been back to Sussex for thirty years and l fear that few people there now speak with a Sussex accent or have even heard it.
Sam Bourne, the best poacher in Sussex by Ken Bourne, KSB Resources and Publishing Company, Forest Grove, Canada 2017
Contributed by Malcolm Davison.