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Scouse: A Social and Cultural History

Tony Crowley
Copyright Date: 2012
Edition: 1
Pages: 190
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  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    Nowhere in Britain is more closely associated with a form of language than Liverpool. Yet the history of language in Liverpool has been obscured by misrepresentation and myth-making and narratives of Liverpool’s linguistic past have scarcely done justice to the rich, complex and fascinating history which produced it. Scouse: A Social and Cultural History presents a ground-breaking and iconoclastic account which challenges many of the forms of received wisdom about language in Liverpool and presents an alternative version of the currently accepted history. Ranging from the mid eighteenth century to the present, the book explores evidence from a host of different sources including the first histories of Liverpool, a rare slaving drama set in the port, a poor house report which records the first use of ‘Scouse’ (the dish), nineteenth century debates on Gladstone’s speech, the ‘lost’ literature of the city, early to mid twentieth century newspaper accounts of Liverpudlian words, idioms and traditions, little-known essays which coined the use of ‘Scouse’ to refer to the language of Liverpool, aspects of popular culture in the 1950s and 60s, the Lern Yerself Scouse series, and examples drawn from contemporary literature. In addition the analysis draws on recent developments within the fields of sociolinguistics and linguistic anthropology - particularly with regard to the study of language and identity and the relationship between language and a sense of place – in order to provide a radically new understanding of ‘Scouse’ in terms of its history, its representation, and its contemporary social and cultural significance.

    eISBN: 978-1-84631-778-1
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. PREFACE. Liverpool: language, culture and history
    (pp. xi-xvi)
  5. 1 The sea, slavery and strangers: observations on the making of early modern Liverpool and its culture
    (pp. 1-14)

    The aim of this chapter will be to lay the groundwork for the analysis of various aspects of language in Liverpool that will be the central concern of this book. To do this, it will be helpful to begin by outlining how early observers made sense of the enormous economic, social and cultural changes that took place in Liverpool in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Needless to say, the intention is not to render an exhaustive account of the history itself (an impossibility given the space constraints), but to present a sketch of responses to the alterations brought about...

  6. 2 Language in Liverpool: the received history and an alternative thesis
    (pp. 15-38)

    It was argued in the first chapter that as a result of its particular history, Liverpool emerged as a place influenced by not only national and international developments but by very specific local features. With this context in mind, the aim of this chapter is to start upon a consideration of one aspect of Liverpool’s cultural past – its language. To begin with, this will take the form of an analysis of the dominant narrative of the history of language in Liverpool, a story, as will become clear later, that was constructed through various media – from the work of...

  7. 3 Language and a sense of place: the beginnings of ‘Scouse’
    (pp. 39-62)

    The previous chapter attempted to challenge and revise the standard history of language in Liverpool by arguing that a distinctive form of language must have appeared in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries and thus that the claim that the inhabitants of Liverpool used the same speech form as their Lancastrian neighbours as late as the 1830s is false. Notwithstanding this important revision, however, it is clear that the language of Liverpool must have been affected by the patterns of immigration to Liverpool (predominantly Irish but including other significant elements) in the mid to late nineteenth century. Evidence of the...

  8. 4 Frank Shaw and the founding of the ‘Scouse industry’
    (pp. 63-86)

    The previous chapter illustrated the local interest in language in Liverpool in the early to mid twentieth century together with a number of the problems associated with its categorization. The account also presented evidence from the early 1950s onwards of an emerging link between a representation of the language of the city and the ‘Scouser’ (a cultural category that had existed for a considerable period but that was not in common use at the time). The connection was exemplified inLiverpool, the book marking Liverpool’s 750thanniversary, which was written by the city’s official historian (and librarian) George Chandler. Noting...

  9. 5 What is ‘Scouse’? Historical and theoretical issues
    (pp. 87-114)

    In a clear piece of codology, Shaw reported a claim by Farrell that there was ‘evidence that Scouse was spoken hereabout at least 900 years ago’ from a scroll found in a cave by the Cast Iron Shore. The text reported an exchange between two archers: ‘I think our bows should be made with oak’, one declared; ‘Why, what’s the matter wid yew?’ said the other (Shaw 1963b: 6). In fact, as the last two chapters have demonstrated, ‘Scouse’ emerged as a category used to name the language of Liverpool at a very recent date. Skeat has no entry for...

  10. 6 Liverpools: places, histories, differences
    (pp. 115-142)

    In this final chapter I want to present a personal account of how I came to reflect on many of the issues addressed in this book: the dominant historical and theoretical narrative concerning language in Liverpool; possible alternatives to the prevailing story; interest in ‘local’ language; the creation and forging of Scouse; the ways in which Scouse has been used within popular culture; and the creation of a cultural identity around Scouse. There are two dangers in this approach. The first is that my own experience will be presented or taken as typical, and the second is that of nostalgia....

  11. APPENDIX. Stories of words: naming the place, naming the people
    (pp. 143-165)
  12. Bibliography
    (pp. 166-179)
  13. Index
    (pp. 180-190)