Back then we always had a word for it...

A notable change in the Vale has been the decline in the use of the local dialect, or Asum Grammer, as Bill Clarke, a former editor of the Journal, used to call it.

He used to quote extracts from a ficticious dictionary of the language.

How can one describe such dialogue as “Wur bist thee agooin?” “I byunt agooin’ nowur.” Picturesque? Amusing? Grammatically horrible?

Here are more choice samples of the language, which must have baffled foreigners: “I gootell if it ynut.” “If I’d aknowed thee wasn’t agooin’ I ‘ouldn’t awent.” “Thee cossn’t do it, const?” “Wasser toim?” “Yuppust yut.” The use of the double or even triple negative was amazing “Don’t say I don’t never give you nothing.” I don’t know if the use of ‘er’ instead of ‘she’ has completely died out. I guess it is still used by some old folk.

The change in the market gardening scene may have something to do with it. The best places to hear the dialect at its fruitiest were the Evesham markets where the growers gathered for the sale of their produce by auction. The Smithfield and Central Markets have gone. The growers, sitting on their drays in the queue for the Central Market, which sometimes extended along High Street down Avon Street, could be heard in some typical exchanges: “Ow’s the missus?”

“Middling’, yer know, middlin’”

“And what about yer old dad?”

“’E be dyud.”

“Aye? ‘E were took about two wicks agoo when I reckon ‘e ‘ad the gallopin’ collywobbles, though the quack said it were summat else.”

“Wot’s thee got thur?”

“Some Vics, some Purples, some Monarchs and a feow chips of Belles (de Louvain)”

This was plum time when the fruit (particularly the yellow or egg variety picked green) attracted a swarm of pickers, including gipsies who worked on piecework rates.

When I was at Prince Henry’s Grammar School there were boys who must have dismayed the English teachers because although they usually succeeded in improving their speech at school, the good work was undone at home: “Wot yer bin up to terday?”

“I had the cane. (from Dr Haselhurst) “Serves yer right? You deserves a good idin’, you young varmint.”

I feel that the Asum dialect may have started to fade with the rise of television in the home. Seeing how people talked elsewhere (much more effective than radio listening) must have had some effect. But is such language as: “You’re not with it, Man,” “You can do your own thing,” “I’m uptight,” and “We’ve been having a ball,” as colourful and (dare I say it?) as entertaining as “Wurst bin?” “E didn’t ougter a done it,” and “Use yer yud, you daft ‘aputh (halfpenny-worth)”

I don’t think so.