North and South
Elizabeth Gaskell

A note on the language

Elizabeth Gaskell was obviously keen to convey the way in which the people actually spoke. This was done in three ways.

First, by replacing dropped letters with a single apostrophe. This is always readable and easily understood. (But it does annoy some readers!)

Second, by using 'phonetic spelling' to try and convey the way the word sounded. This is also readable, understandable, and unambiguous. (Though it may sometimes be a little confusing to those whose own spelling abilities are not strong.)

Third, by the use of dialect words. In most cases the meaning can be determined by the context, but there are two in particular whose meaning should be made clear as a help to knowing exactly what is being said. These are:

hoo comes from 'hoe' which is the Old English for 'she'.

clem is Old English for 'pinch' but in its dialect form refers to the pinch in the stomach arising from hunger, and to waste from hunger.
to clem would be 'to starve'.
clemmed can be taken as 'starved' or 'starving'.

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