Dialect in British Fiction: 1800-1836Funded by The Arts and Humanities Research CouncilSupported by The University of Sheffield
Full record including Speech Extracts
Selden, CatharineSerena. A novel. In three volumes.
Author Details
First Names:Catharine
Publication Details
Publisher:Printed at the Minerva-Press for William Lane, Leadenhall-Street.
Novel Details
Genre:Courtship; domestic; inheritance/identity; manners/society; sentimental
Setting:England - country estate in Skipton; Baden, Germany
The novel has lots of entangled love plots. Serena has been tricked into a false marriage with Mr Delamont and is now pregnant. A friend of her brother, Mr Delville, son of Lord Somerset, is her guardian and is in love with her (she reciprocates). Generally everyone behaves pretty well towards Serena, and Lord Somerset is particularly impressive in defending her from her seducer, even once she has taken the step of marrying him for real to secure the future of her young child. However, the logic of the plot must be obeyed and Serena eventually dies.
Overview of the Dialect
There is one short passage of apparent Yorkshire (setting in Skipton), plus one interesting passage discussing a character's dislike for the humourous representation of Scottish or Irish (vol. 2, p. 155).
Displaying 2 characters from this novel    |    Highlight dialect features in each extract    |    Do not highlight dialect features in each extract
Speaker #1:Mrs Barton - Cottager
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Cottager
Age:Adult - unspecified age
Narrative Voice:3rd person

Social Role
Social Role Description:Cottager
Social Role Category:Respectable poor
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:
Place of Origin Category:Skipton, Yorkshire, North England, England
Speakers: All , Mrs Barton
"He," continued the gossip, " as comes here so often to visit the forin lady: I supposes 'tis a Doctor, for poor young thing! she bees just at the down-lying . See, Miss, there's his horse fastened to rail of the little court."
(Vol. 1,p. 125)
Speaker #2:Lord Somerset - Aristocrat
Individual or Group:Individual
Primary Identity:Lord Somerset
Age:Adult - middle aged
Narrative Voice:3rd person
Dialect Features:Metalanguage

Social Role
Social Role Description:Aristocrat
Social Role Category:Aristocracy or gentry
Speaker's Origin
Place of Origin Description:
Place of Origin Category:England
Extract #1 dialect features: Metalanguage
"But, my dear Sir," interrupted Mrs. Powis, "you must confess that there is at least ample field for ridicule in their horrid, uncouth mode of speaking the barbarous names they give places, the prejudices, and national pride of the Irish."
"I am sorry, my dear Emily," returned Lord Somerset, "to see you so little understand the terms you have made use of, English as they are, as I think otherwise you would not lay yourself so entirely open to the retort courteous. In regard to the Irish accent, which I acknowledge I have scarcely met any persons of that country entirely free from, you must permit me to say I think it infinitely preferable to the provincial jargon of many English counties; because the language is always good, though the pronunciation may be faulty. As for the barbarous names you mention, for Heaven's sake, recollect those of Cornwall, which is, in fact, your native country. "
The Peer paused; but his niece remaining silent, he added--
"I confess I have no patience with the arrogant absurdity one so often meets with in Novels, where the author criticizes and ridicules the language of the Irish, in a broad Yorkshire, or West country dialect."
"Yet, notwithstanding all you have said, my dear uncle," resumed the fair widow, "I cannot believe but there must be much more truth than you are willing to allow in this satire on the Irish; else would you see so many of that country, as you may do daily, evidently ashamed of having been born on the other side of the Channel?"
"What you now mention," said his Lordship, "has long struck me as being a very great absurdity, totally unworthy of the understanding of many persons who one sees cherish it; and it certainly gives infinite force to those illiberal sarcasms, that would else only excite the contemptuous smile, and be forgotten. The Irish are also apt to run into a contrary extreme, in being vain of the title of Hibernians; and I have more than once met with Irish persons in England, whose manners, and still more their accent, were in the style of the most vulgar Milesian's, whom I have afterwards seen in the polite circles of Dublin, and who would there have blushed at the very idea of making use of an Hibernianism.
(Vol. 2,p. 152-57)
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Version 1.1 (December 2015)Background image reproduced from the Database of Mid Victorian Illustration (DMVI)