Sunday, 14 June 2009

That’s what it semt to be

Peter Roach wrote:
I heard a Rotherham man being interviewed on Radio 4 earlier today about the effects of the recession. I thought I heard him say 'It semt to come on suddenly' ('semt' where 'seemed' would be expected). If I heard that correctly (I wasn't listening carefully at the time), it would be presumably be analogical to /dremt/ - /dri:md/. Have you ever heard this? Or did I mis-hear?

I answered
I’ve never heard it, but it seems entirely plausible. The OED has a past tense semde, sempt, semt in the 13th-16th centuries.
You could possibly check in the Leeds Survey of English Dialects.

Peter then reported
I consulted my cousin-in-law, who knows the area well - he used to be Head Teacher of Grimethorpe Comprehensive. I remember him telling me of hearing one of his teachers saying to a boy “don't tha thee-thou me!”. His reply concerning semt:
Yes semt (I'm not sure exactly how it's spelt - it can be pronounced more like sempt) is common in Rotherham, Sheffield and Barnsley, tha’ knows. They also use tret (for treated).

So I think I must have heard this form correctly.
And I in turn can say that I have heard tret for the past of treat.

5 comments:

  1. I like that. I favour "dreamt" and "leapt" (or should that be "lept"?) over "dreamed" and "dreamt", myself.

    Can't give any reason why, though.

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  2. I've not heard "sempt" from living in Yorkshire. I looked in the Upton/Parry/Widdowson volume of SED and in the Dictionary of the Scots Language, and didn't find it anywhere. That's a new entry for me. However, I have heard "tret" frequently. Similar forms include "selt" (sold) and "telt" (told), which extend from Yorkshire northwards into Scotland.

    It's good to see a bit of Yorkshire dialect on the blog, although I should point out that Grimethorpe, as an isolated ex-pit village, is likely to be very conservative in comparison to the rest of West/South Yorkshire speech.

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  3. And Jack Windsor Lewis points out (p.c.) that Americans have "pled" as the past tense of "plead".

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  4. This is my dream,
    It is my own dream,
    I dreamt it.
    I dreamt that my hair was kempt.
    Then I dreamt that my true love unkempt it

    ~ Ogden Nash

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  5. BrE is pretty vast and wide, I had studied it before but never to the depths of the many different ways some words can be pronounced or spoken. In deed much more deep and rich than AmE.

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