Edward Hunt's Forest of Dean Miscellany

Fact, Fiction and Fantasy

Forest Dialect

These older Foresters speak with a wide, beautiful splattering of chapel language, and use a hundredfold country and coal-mining superstitions and prejudices. They believe in God, in Britain, in the Forest and in the working class. ‘Highsht!’ they command to shut someone up – the Forest word for listen-with-urgency, and the Foresters listen without urgency, or even with the patent boredom of all who are afflicted with the old.

So broad is the accent at its furthest limits that I doubt whether many outsiders would grasp two thirds of what was said to them, for it is a rich and very heavily flavoured mixture of the speed and lilt of the Welsh borderland, the broad, lengthened vowel sounds and buttery emphases of the West Country and many distinctive local words and rhythms of its own.

Speech is still the easiest form of map reading for those who wish to explore England, but it is also the most difficult quality to print. I usually dislike reading dialogue that is supposed to be in a strong regional accent, and, except to give an indication of its texture and pungency, I’ll not attempt to convey the richness of this Forest speech: but it remains all the time, flowing through the conversations that went into the making of this book.

The above text is from "The Changing Forest" by Dennis Potter
(Publisher: Secker and Warburg, 1962)


 For other articles featuring the Forest Dialect,
          click on one of the links below:

          Forest Dialect
          George Ridler's Oven
          Harry Beddington
          Yarleton Hill
          Zurree! : Forest Talk

          Learn Forest Speak (BBC)
          Forest Talk - Keith Morgan (BBC)


Edward Hunt