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I'm reading T.H. White's The Sword in the Stone to my daughter, and mostly I can find explanations for the historical lexicon (fewmets and corkindrills and so on), mainly relying on this rather useful site. But these ones stumped me, and the internet:

"Tëuk" in this sentence:

"Us be'nt no common urchin" quavered the poor creature staying curled up tight as ever. "Us wor a tëuk when little by one of them there gentry, like, as it might be from the mother's breast"

I'm guessing it's "taken", just from the context. Is the hedgehog speaking a Yorkshire dialect? I read it in my best broad Yorkshire.

And "wizzle" in this:

If you are feeling desparate, a badger is a good thing to be. A relation of the bears, otters and wizzles, you are the nearest thing left to a bear in England.

BTW I thoroughly recommend it to anyone with an interest in English, historical fantasy, where J.K.Rowling got her ideas from, and creative anachronisms.

  • 3
    wizzle is surely eye-dialect for weasel. – Gareth Rees Feb 13 '14 at 10:35
  • aah, of course! – stib Feb 13 '14 at 10:36
  • I agree with you on tëuk indicating Yorkshire pronunciation of take. – Gareth Rees Feb 13 '14 at 10:52
  • Perhaps a-took for a-taken, being a now mostly-obsolete way of using the middle voice to turn a verb to an adjectival use. (If I'm right, then I think the use here wouldn't quite be correct, but whether it's an incorrectly written dialect or a faithfully reported dialect use that differs from that old use of a, or I'm just wrong, is another question). – Jon Hanna Feb 13 '14 at 12:04
  • Wizzle meanwhile is almost certainly a weasle. C.f. wozzle in A A Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh. – Jon Hanna Feb 13 '14 at 12:06
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"Wizzle" is, of course, "weasel," and is probably spelled that way to indicate the desired pronunciation: /wiz'l/ as opposed to /wee' zul/.

I suspect that the "tëuk" is "took," and is spelled so oddly (and with a diaresis on the "e") to indicate the broad compounded vowel common in rural northern England. Something like /tyook/.

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