Miss Keary on the sing-song proverb-speech of the Potteries

Miss Alice Annie Keary of Oakhill, Stoke-on-Trent, confirming in 1896 the habit of the Potteries people in the 1880s and 1890s to naturally speak as in sing-song proverbs and poetic epigrams, but not to realise that they were doing it…

“…proverbs I have for myself found very difficult to collect, owing to the Poyser-like habit of our people of expressing themselves in an epigrammatic and metaphorical fashion which may be proverbial, but is quite as often extemporised.”

Keary, though the key North Staffordshire folklore and folksong collector of the mid 1890s and presumably rather experienced at such things, thus found it very difficult to distinguish between ordinary speech and proverbs. Keary alludes above to Mrs. Poyser, a proverb-spouting character in the novel Adam Bede by George Eliot.

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