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I've just been sent this curious little interview with Alf Wood from The 'Jo magazine from 1895, in which he talks more about his influences, training and the models he plays.

It may be of interest here.

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"Curious" indeed. Did people ever actually speak like that? 

David Murakami Wood said:

I've just been sent this curious little interview with Alf Wood from The 'Jo magazine from 1895, in which he talks more about his influences, training and the models he plays.

It may be of interest here.

I doubt it. I think the tone is supposed to be slightly humorous, although whatever was supposed to be amusing about it has long been lost...

I found it amusing. People may have not spoken exactly in that manner but it was a very common writing style in the 19th C and one hears the ghost of it in early sound films and early spoken-word recordings. It is intended to portray a gentleman's style of genial conversation. It hints of Dickens, a bit more formal and amusing than the probable actual conversation. In a typical reporter's style, it is the gist of the story but probably expanded into light fiction. The section about his age is mere filler. 

People in the UK did speak like that, you have only to read the dialogue in books by Dickens, Jane Austen and later authors of the 1930s/40s/50s . This flowery way of speaking carried on well into the 1960s along with a lot of other outmoded customs, ways of life, codes of conduct etc. Take a look at a TV programme called 'Dad's Army' which is set in WW2, one of the leading characters is called Mainwearing (another peculiarity of the UK, this surname is pronounced 'Mannering' and another Cholmondeley, is pronounced 'Chumley" and another, Featherstonehaugh is pronounced 'Fanshaw' things like this are designed to trip up the unwary and reveal if you are the right class of chap) Mainwearing is a perfect example of the pomposity and snobbery which pervaded (it still does but it is not so obvious these days) the British way of life until the 1970s. Class is still a big thing in the UK, the right accent, the right clothes, the right house, the right school, the right family and the 'right' way of speaking. I'm sure that it is universal thing but the British have perfected it.

Jolly well said, old bean.

In connection with the banjo, someone once said to me, about a well known but deceased banjoist, "He couldn't play the banjo, he was a taxi driver".

I was aware of this sort of speech in books and films. It seemed to be a carryover from the theatre where it made sense. I didn't realize it represented the daily speech of actual people.  I've spent some time in England and was aware of the pronunciations of the three names you mentioned. It was near impossible not to know.  If a visitor can't avoid learning about this, how can it be that all classes of those who live there don't also know?  I don't disbelieve you, I just don't fully understand.  Also I'm thinking that in earlier times the lower class would have been illiterate so they would know these names from how they were pronounced by the "bearers" of the names. There would be no unlikely letter combinations to distract and confuse them. Is there some historical point I am missing that counteracts my possibly flawed logic?

Richard William Ineson said:

People in the UK did speak like that, you have only to read the dialogue in books by Dickens, Jane Austen and later authors of the 1930s/40s/50s . This flowery way of speaking carried on well into the 1960s along with a lot of other outmoded customs, ways of life, codes of conduct etc. Take a look at a TV programme called 'Dad's Army' which is set in WW2, one of the leading characters is called Mainwearing (another peculiarity of the UK, this surname is pronounced 'Mannering' and another Cholmondeley, is pronounced 'Chumley" and another, Featherstonehaugh is pronounced 'Fanshaw' things like this are designed to trip up the unwary and reveal if you are the right class of chap) Mainwearing is a perfect example of the pomposity and snobbery which pervaded (it still does but it is not so obvious these days) the British way of life until the 1970s. Class is still a big thing in the UK, the right accent, the right clothes, the right house, the right school, the right family and the 'right' way of speaking. I'm sure that it is universal thing but the British have perfected it.

The reported speech is very much of the age of Arthur Conan Doyle - Holmes and Watson are all over it.  It's the popular reporting style of the day.  Dickens is said to have had a good ear for the spoken word, but he had been dead for 30 years when this piece was written, and the way English was spoken in London in Charles' formative years was very different from what was current in the late Victorian period.  Until the mass-mixing of the First World War, spoken English in England was a jungle of different accents and dialects, varying from village to village.  So, in answer to the question, "did anyone speak like that in those days?", the answer is: maybe some could keep it up, but only predominantly in London.  It's also worth remembering that the dread 'elocution' was on the syllabus of most village schools. The difficulty in getting the feel for spoken English lies in the barrier of what was 'correct' written English.  To this day, many languages around the world are far more formal in the written version than the spoken, and English was still this way until the late 1950's and early 60's.  Look at how much of what was written in BMG was put in quotation marks - words we would consider normal were considered then to be slang, or otherwise impolite.  It may have put you among the trendy writers, but too many inverted commas would certainly have put your writing outside polite circles. 

As for the irregularities of English in spelling names, Jody's right to question who, exactly, got caught out by this.  I remember being caught out more by place-names than surnames - you could never assume to know the spelling of someone's surname, so you had to ask.  When I was a lad, this limerick always had us all rolling around in stitches:

The was a young man named Colquhoun

Who kept as a pet a babuhoun. 

His mother said, "Cholmondeley,

It isn't quite colmondeley

To feed a babuhoun with a spuhoun. 

Gosh, how we laughed! When recited, it was not out of the normal, but the main part of the joke was in thinking how this would look when written consistently (apart from how you would feed a baboon with a spoon).  But it was pointless gibberish to the rest of the English-speaking world, who could never see the joke. 

Regards

Tony

Thanks for the detailed and delightful reply, Tony!

TONY BRYAN said:

The reported speech is very much of the age of Arthur Conan Doyle - Holmes and Watson are all over it.  It's the popular reporting style of the day.  Dickens is said to have had a good ear for the spoken word, but he had been dead for 30 years when this piece was written, and the way English was spoken in London in Charles' formative years was very different from what was current in the late Victorian period.  Until the mass-mixing of the First World War, spoken English in England was a jungle of different accents and dialects, varying from village to village.  So, in answer to the question, "did anyone speak like that in those days?", the answer is: maybe some could keep it up, but only predominantly in London.  It's also worth remembering that the dread 'elocution' was on the syllabus of most village schools. The difficulty in getting the feel for spoken English lies in the barrier of what was 'correct' written English.  To this day, many languages around the world are far more formal in the written version than the spoken, and English was still this way until the late 1950's and early 60's.  Look at how much of what was written in BMG was put in quotation marks - words we would consider normal were considered then to be slang, or otherwise impolite.  It may have put you among the trendy writers, but too many inverted commas would certainly have put your writing outside polite circles. 

As for the irregularities of English in spelling names, Jody's right to question who, exactly, got caught out by this.  I remember being caught out more by place-names than surnames - you could never assume to know the spelling of someone's surname, so you had to ask.  When I was a lad, this limerick always had us all rolling around in stitches:

The was a young man named Colquhoun

Who kept as a pet a babuhoun. 

His mother said, "Cholmondeley,

It isn't quite colmondeley

To feed a babuhoun with a spuhoun. 

Gosh, how we laughed! When recited, it was not out of the normal, but the main part of the joke was in thinking how this would look when written consistently (apart from how you would feed a baboon with a spoon).  But it was pointless gibberish to the rest of the English-speaking world, who could never see the joke. 

Regards

Tony

There is a tune in there called Hypatia which seems to be described as a "Morceau Pathétique".

What's one of them?

Fun fact, there is also a piece by Leo Catlin.  Catlin was a name that George Lansing used so it did not look like he was composing so many pieces (which he was).

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