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In my class there is a gentleman from the north of England who uses "-sen" instead of "-self" in such words as "himself" ("himsen") and "myself" ("mysen").

As far as I can tell, he always uses "-sen" in speech, it is not occasional.

I have never encountered this before and was wondering about its history/etymology and prevalence.

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  • Also common in North and East Yorkshire
    – PColbeck
    Jun 14, 2019 at 7:44

1 Answer 1

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It appears to be a dialectal variant from East Midlands where:

Reflexive pronouns are characterized by the replacement of "self" with sen (from Middle English seluen):

Y'usen – Yourself, Mesen – Myself, Thisens – Themselves/Yourselves, Ussens – Ourselves

Example:

  • We sh'll ay to do it ussens. (We shall have to do it ourselves.)

From (East Midlands English by Natalie Braber, Jonnie Robins)

as well as a Yorkshire variant:

The word self may become sen, e.g. yourself becomes thy sen, tha sen.

From (Petyt, Keith M. (1985), 'Dialect' and 'Accent' in Industrial West Yorkshire, John Benjamins Publishing)

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(www.asgbi.org.uk)

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    It is certainly widely used in Sheffield, and I suspect in much of Yorkshire.
    – WS2
    Dec 14, 2018 at 22:10
  • In Barnsley too.
    – Angelos
    Dec 15, 2018 at 7:21
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    Also in Derbyshire (E. Midlands). I occasionally use it myself when 'putting on' the local dialect. Dec 15, 2018 at 8:40

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