Thursday, April 30, 2015

The Language of Riddley Walker

Today, I'm going to talk to you about Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban, a post-apocalyptic novel that takes place over 2,000 years in the future. More specifically, I'll be focusing on the language of this novel and using it to talk about the creative use of language, with some tips you can use in your own writing.


The rules of a Riddley Walker
The first 20 pages of a novel are like a contract between the writer and the reader. In these first 20 pages, the reader learns the "rules" and therefore knows what to expect from the novel. These are basic things, like whether the narrator is first or third person, if and how the point of view changes, and the style and tone of the piece. When a writer puts forth a novel that has unusual rules, it is in everyone's interest that most or all of these rules be demonstrated in the first 20 pages. If dialogue is a word-for-word translation of Spanish, be sure to have enough of it by page 20 to make that apparent. If only every other chapter focuses on the main characters and plot, be sure that your third chapter starts before page 20. If your narrator has a distinctive speech style, be sure to lay out what marks their speech as different in those first 20 pages.

In Riddley Walker, we have a narrator with a distinctive style of English. Presumably, this is because English has changed from a lack of formal education, a chaotic situation immediately following the apocalypse, and/or because language changes over time and it's been 2,000 years. Let's take a look at the very first sentence in Walker's future English:
On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen.
Luckily for us, Hoban already sets four major rules for the language of the text in just the first sentence. Here they are in no particular order:

Rule 1: The narrator uses nonstandard grammar.
We see that the narrator uses come for Standard English (SE) 'became' and gone for 'went.'  Everyone's favorite nonstandard word ain't makes an appearance here. We also see been without an auxiliary have; from the context and the later use of hadn't been, it seems that this is intended to convey the perfect aspect, which implies that the missing have is present in the narrator's underlying grammar and deleted outside of cases of negation (or, as is the case with auxiliary do in SE, added in cases like negation).

In addition to these, there are two more interesting grammatical features with this narrator. They may actually be novel features, though I don't have an exhaustive knowledge of nonstandard dialectal grammars.

The first interesting feature is shown in the spelling of killed as ⟨kilt⟩, which indicates a pronunciation with a final /t/. Because the narrator doesn't change the spelling of wild to also have a final ⟨t⟩, it is not likely that this is a case of a general word-final devoicing of obstruents. Rather, it seems that his pronunciation of the –ed suffix differs from that of Standard English where the suffix -ed would normally be a voiced /d/ unless following a voiceless sound (that is, bagged is pronounced /bægd/ and peed is pronounced /piːd/ while backed is pronounced /bækt/); for the narrator, the voiceless /t/ pronunciation is the default, with a voiced pronunciation presumably only appearing after voiced obstruents.

The other interesting feature is the use of nor, which seems to be used as a conjunction of two clauses that marks the second as semantically negative. This is similar to the nonstandard feature of some parts of the United States where anymore appears in sentences like "He might want to stay home anymore." It's a sort of extension of standard usage.


Rule 2: There are words that are spelled differently but pronounced the same.
This is called eye dialect (representations for the eye, but not the ear) and gives the effect of altered speech without actually indicating it.  Thus, spelling wild as wyld, bundle as bundel, and before as befor implies to the reader that the narrator is speaking differently, but doesn't actually give any information on how the narrator's speech is different. 


Rule 3: There are words that are spelled differently to show a particular pronunciation.
The most striking example from this first sentence is the spelling of probably as parbly, implying a pronunciation of  /ˈpɑrbliwhich differs from what Wiktionary tells me are the two most common pronunciations, /ˈprɒbli/ and /ˈprɒbəbli/. Spelling been as ⟨ben⟩ and again as agen may also be included in this, as the reader is assured that the narrator is not pronouncing these words with /iː/ and /eɪ/, respectively (these are less common pronunciations found in dictionaries). For most speakers, though, these might just be eye dialect. We can also consider the spelling of last as las as another example.


Rule 4: Punctuation is haphazardly applied.
The conventions for using punctuation to carefully delineate complete ideas and properly set up the relationships between clauses are used inconsistently, ignoring them enough to make the narrator's writing as polished as a middle school student’s English paper. For example, there should be something following boar to indicate that the clause has been completed.

Problems with these rules
Like a good writer, Hoban gives the reader the main rules that they need to know to help them understand what to expect with the narrator's language for the rest of the book.  Unfortunately, most of these rules turn what would be otherwise good writing into largely incomprehensible drivel.

Let's start with punctuation.  A close look at this first sentence shows that it is actually composed of three sentences. The first is "On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar." Because "when I come 12" is an embedded clause, it should also be set off by a pair of commas.  Commas and periods are signals to readers designed to quickly indicate the boundaries and relationships between clauses, preventing confusion from adjacent words that could go together but are part of separate ideas. They reflect paralinguistic cues given to listeners in oral speech.  Omitting them (or applying them haphazardly) forces the reader to slow down as they try to figure out what is being said.  Slowing a reader down isn't necessarily the mark of bad writing. A proficient writer may produce prose composed of complex sentences with triple-embedded clauses, hoards of prepositional phrases, and rarely-used words from the bowels of Oxford. If they are particularly ambitious, they might even pack such difficult-to-parse prose with thought-provoking ideas. But omitting proper punctuation is not in the same caliber. It only adds to an obtuseness that makes reading an unnecessarily difficult exercise. Praising this is tantamount to applauding a video game experience as challenging simply because it has unwieldy controls (I'm looking at you, every water level, ever).

The greater sin, in my mind, is the use of respellings. Firstly, it's a bad idea to try to use English spelling to indicate pronunciation because it is notoriously haphazard. Part of this is because the pronunciation of English has changed considerably since the last time any major orthographic reform has been applied to the language and part of it is because of the many loanwords borrowed into English that usually retain the original spelling.  With no real regular spelling conventions, English orthography is not set up for phonetic spelling. There are a few general rules that could be applied, such as the double ee pronunciation for /iː/ and the pronunciation of most consonants. But there are quite a few ambiguous cases. How, for example, could the distinction between /θ/ and /ð/ be written? English spelling uses th for both. There's no real way to distinguish /ʌ/ from /ʊ/. Would ay represent // or //? What about ei? The issue gets even worse when we consider rhotic and non-rhotic dialects, which is one of the most salient distinctions between British and American pronunciations. There's no way to use spelling to clearly indicate that one is speaking with a British (i.e. non-rhotic) accent. 

Eye dialect is even worse. As with the punctuation issue above, it slows the reader down with very little payoff. Eye dialect may be artfully applied to indicate to the reader that a narrator or character is speaking with a dialect, but whether or not the reader can tell which dialect is being spoken, it usually gives off the impression that the speaker is uneducated or stupid.

Think about the issue in terms of what you do when you meet someone who speaks an accent different from your own. At first, you might take note of the pronunciation differences, or at least note that they are speaking in a marked way. Even if you are initially unfamiliar with the accent, however, you quickly acclimate to their speaking style and start to ignore most of the differences enough to understand what they're saying. This is called diaphonemic identification and it's a largely unconscious process that allows you to communicate seamlessly with people who speak differently from yourself.  Using spelling changes to indicate pronunciation doesn't help the reader understand dialectal pronunciations, nor does it help them access their knowledge of a dialect they've heard before. Instead, it focuses on the period before diaphonemic identification occurs and exacerbates the sense of unintelligibility.  In other words, respelling is not a good way to trigger the reader's memory of a dialect and apply it to prose as they read in their mind. The problem is compounded with Riddley Walker, since the narrator is presumably speaking with a fictional dialect that the reader is unfamiliar with and where no sort of respellings will trigger recognition.

What we have left is the nonstandard grammar. I'm fine with most of this, though I think indicating the devoicing of -ed isn't worth the issues mentioned above. When we add punctuation and fix the spelling, we get this:
On my naming day, when I come twelve, I gone front spear and killed a wild boar. He probably been the last wild pig on the Bundle Downs anyhow. There hadn't been none for a long time before him, nor I ain't looking to see none again.
Hey, this is actually good. I could read a 200-page book written like this. I could even suspend my disbelief that, 2,000 years in the future, English would have changed little enough to be intelligible to a modern reader. What I can't do is read Riddley Walker as it is originally written.

In the process of writing this post, I've applied this sort of revision to the first three chapters of Riddley Walker. A line-by-line comparison below is included for your reading pleasure.  Other than a few items, I'm pretty confident about my changes. My next post will most likely be a more linguistic approach to the language of Riddley Walker's narrator, so stay tuned.

Chapter 1
Original Revised
On my naming day when I come 12 I gone front spear and kilt a wyld boar he parbly ben the las wyld pig on the Bundel Downs any how there hadnt ben none for a long time befor him nor I aint looking to see none agen. He dint make the groun shake nor nothing like that when he come on to my spear he wernt all that big plus he lookit poorly. He done the reqwyrt he ternt and stood and clattert his teef and made his rush and there we wer then. Him on 1 end of the spear kicking his life out and me on the other end watching him dy. I said, "Your tern now my tern later." The other spears gone in then and he wer dead and the steam coming up off him in the rain and we all yelt, "Offert!" On my naming day, when I come twelve, I gone front spear and killed a wild boar. He probably been the last wild pig on the Bundle Downs anyhow. There hadn't been none for a long time before him, nor I ain't looking to see none again. He didn't make the ground shake nor nothing like that. When he come onto my spear, he weren't all that big. Plus, he looked poorly. He done the required. Turned and stood and clattered his teeth, and made his rush. And there we were then. Him on one end of the spear, kicking his life out, and me on the other end, watching him die. I said, 'Your turn now, my turn later.' The other spears gone in then, and he were dead. And the steam coming up off him in the rain. And we all yelled, "Offered!"
The woal thing fealt jus that littl bit stupid. Us running that boar thru that las littl scrump of woodling with the forms all roun. Cows mooing sheap baaing cocks crowing and us foraging our las boar in a thin grey girzel on the day I come a man. The whole thing felt just that little bit stupid. Us running that boar through that last little scrump of woodling with the farms all round: Cows mooing, sheep baaing, cocks crowing, and us foraging our last boar in a thin, grey drizzle on the day I come a man.
The Bernt Arse pack been following just out of bow shot. When the shout gone up ther ears all prickt up. Ther leader he wer a big black and red spottit dog he come forit a littl like he ben going to make a speach or some thing til 1 or 2 bloaks uppit bow then he slumpt back agen and kep his farness follering us back. I took noatis of that leader tho. He wernt close a nuff for me to see his eyes but I thot his eye ben on me. The Burnt Arse pack been following just out of bow shot. When the shout gone up, their ears all pricked up. Their leader, he were a big black and red spotted dog. He come forward a little like he been going to make a speech or something till one or two blokes upped bow. Then he slumped back again and kept his farness following us back. I took notice of that leader, though. He weren't close enough for me to see his eyes, but I thought his eye been on me.
Coming back with the boar on a poal we come a long by the rivver it wer hevvyer woodit in there. Thru the girzel you cud see blue smoak hanging in be twean the black trees and the stumps pink and red where they ben loppt off. Aulder trees in there and chard coal berners in amongst them working ther harts. You cud see 1 of them in there with his red jumper what they all ways wear. Making chard coal for the iron reddy at Widders Dump. Every 1 made the Bad Luck go a way syn when we past him. Theres a story callit Hart of the Wood this is it: Coming back with the boar on a pole, we come along by the river. It were heavier wooded in there. Through the drizzle, you could see blue smoke hanging in between the black trees and the stumps, pink and red where they been lopped off. Alder trees in there and charcoal burners in amongst them, working their hearts. You could see one of them in there with his red jumper what they always wear. Making charcoal for the iron ready at Widow's Dump. Everyone made the Bad Luck go away sign when we passed him. There's a story called "Heart of the Wood." This is it:
Hart of the Wood Heart of the Wood
There is the Hart of the Wud in the Eusa Story that wer a stag every 1 knows that. There is the hart of the wood meaning the veryes deap of it thats a nother thing. There is the hart of the wood where they bern the chard coal thats a nother thing agen innit. Thats a nother thing. Berning the chard coal in the hart of the wood. Thats what they call the stack of wood you see. The stack of wood in the shape they do it for chard coal berning. Why do they call it the hart tho? Thats what this here story tels of. There is the Heart of the Would in the Eusa Story. That were a stage. Everyone knows that. There is the heart of the wood, meaning the very's deep of it. That's another thing. There is the heart of the wood, where they burn the charcoal. That's another thing again, isn't it? That's another thing. Burning the charcoal in the heart of the wood. That's what they call the stack of wood, you see. The stack of wood in the shape, they do it for charcoal burning. Why do they call it the heart, though? That's what this here story tells of.
Every 1 knows about Bad Time and what come after. Bad Time 1st and bad times after. Not many come thru it a live.Everyone knows about Bad Time and what come after. Bad Time first and bad times after. Not many come through it alive.
There come a man and a woman and a chyld out of a berning town they sheltert in the woodlings and foraging the bes they cud. Starveling wer what they wer doing. Dint have no weapons nor dint know how to make a snare nor nothing. Snow on the groun and a grey sky overing and the black trees rubbing ther branches in the wind. Crows calling 1 to a nother waiting for the 3 of them to drop. The man the woman and the chyld digging thru the snow they wer eating maws and dead leaves which they vomitit them up agen. Freazing col they wer nor dint have nothing to make a fire with to get warm. Starveling they wer and near come to the end of ther strenth. There come a man and a woman and a child out of a burning town. They sheltered in the woodlings and foraging the best they could. Starving were what they were doing. Didn't have no weapons, nor didn't know how to make a snare nor nothing. Snow on the ground and a grey sky overing and the black trees rubbing their branches in the wind. Crows calling one to another, waiting for the three of them to drop. The man, the woman, and the child digging through the snow. They were eating moss and dead leaves, which they vomited them up again. Freezing cold they were, nor didn't have nothing to make a fire with to get warm. Starving they were, and near come to the end of their strength.
The chyld said, 'O Im so col Im afeart Im going to dy. If only we had a littl fire to get warm at.' The child said, 'Oh I'm so cold. I'm afeared I'm going to die. If only we had a little fire to get warm at.'
The man dint have no way of making a fire he dint have no flint and steal nor nothing. Wood all roun them only there wernt no way he knowit of getting warm from it. The man didn't have no way of making a fire. He didn't have no flint and steel, nor nothing. Wood all round them, only there weren't no way he knowed of getting warm from it.
The 3 of them ready for Aunty they wer ready to total and done when there come thru the woodlings a clevver looking bloak and singing a littl song to his self: The three of them ready for Aunty. They were ready to total and done when there come through the woodlings a clever-looking bloke and singing a little song to his self:
My roadings ben so hungry
Ive groan so very thin
Ive got a littl cook pot
But nothing to put in
My roadings been so hungry
I've grown so very thin
I've got a little cook pot
But nothing to put in
The man and the woman said to the clevver looking bloak, 'Do you know how to make fire?' The man and the woman said to the clever-looking bloke, 'Do you know how to make fire?'
The clevver looking bloak said, 'O yes if I know any thing I know that right a nuff. Fires my middl name you myt say.' The clever-looking bloke said, 'Oh yes. If I know anything, I know that right enough. Fire's my middle name, you might say.'
The man and the woman said, 'Wud you make a littl fire then weare freazing of the col.' The man and the woman said, 'Would you make a little fire then? We're freezing of the cold.'
The clevver looking bloak said, 'That for you and what for me?' The clever-looking bloke said, 'That for you and what for me?'
The man and the woman said, 'What do we have for whatfers?' They lookit 1 to the other and boath at the chyld. The man and the woman said, 'What do we have for whatfers?' They looked one to the other and both at the child.
The clevver looking bloak said, 'Iwl tel you what Iwl do Iwl share you my fire and my cook pot if youwl share me what to put in the pot.' He wer looking at the chyld. The clever-looking bloke said, 'I'll tell you what I'll do. I'll share you my fire and my cook pot if you'll share me what to put in the pot.' He were looking at the child.
The man and the woman thot: 2 out of 3 a live is bettern 3 dead. They said, 'Done.' The man and the woman thought: two out of three alive is better than three dead. They said, 'Done.'
They kilt the chyld and drunk its blood and cut up the meat for cooking. They killed the child and drunk its blood and cut up the meat for cooking.
The clevver looking bloak said, 'Iwl show you how to make fire plus Iwl give you flint and steal and makings nor you dont have to share me nothing of the meat only the hart.' The clever-looking bloke said, 'I'll show you how to make fire. Plus, I'll give you flint and steel and makings, nor you don't have to share me nothing of the meat, only the heart.'
Which he made the fire then and give them flint and steal and makings then he cookt the hart of the chyld and et it. Which he made the fire, then, and give them flint and steel and makings. Then he cooked the heart of the child and ate it.
The clevver looking bloak said, 'Clevverness is gone now but littl by littl itwl come back. The iron wil come back agen 1 day and when the iron comes back they wil bern chard coal in the hart of the wood. And when they bern the chard coal ther stack wil be the shape of the hart of the chyld.' Off he gone then singing: The clever-looking bloke said, 'Cleverness is gone now. But little by little it'll come back. The iron will come back again one day. And when the iron comes back, they will burn charcoal in the heart of the wood. And when they burn the charcoal, their stack will be the shape of the heart of the child.' Off he gone then singing:
Seed of the little
Seed of the wyld
Seed of the berning is
Hart of the chyld
Seed of the little
Seed of the wild
Seed of the burning is
Heart of the child
The man and the woman then eating ther chyld it wer black nite all roun them they made ther fire bigger and bigger trying to keap the black from moving in on them. They fel a sleap by ther fire and the fire biggering on it et them up they bernt to death. They ben the old 1s or you myt say the auld 1s and be come chard coal. Thats why theywl tel you the aulder tree is bes for charring coal. Some times youwl hear of a aulder kincher he carrys off childer. The man and the woman then eating their child, it were black night all round them. They made their fire bigger and bigger, trying to keep the black from moving in on them. They fell sleep by their fire. And the fire biggering on it ate them up. They burned to death. They been the old ones—or you might say the ald ones—and became charcoal. That's why they'll tell you the alder tree is best for charring coal. Sometimes you'll hear of a alder kincher, he carries off children.
Out goes the candl
Out goes the lite
Out goes my story
And so Good Nite
Out goes the candle
Out goes the light
Out goes my story
And so Good Night
Coming pas that aulder wood that girzly morning I fealt my stummick go col. Like the aulder kincher ben putting eye on me. No 1 never had nothing much to do with the chard coal berners only the dyers on the forms. lce a year the chard coal berners they come in to the forms for ther new red clof but in be twean they kep to the woodlings. Coming past that alder wood that drizzly morning, I felt my stomach go cold. Like the alder kincher been putting eye on me. No one never had nothing much to do with the charcoal burners, only the dyers on the farms. Once a year, the charcoal burners, they come into the farms for their new red cloth. But in between, they keep to the woodlings.
It wer Ful of the Moon that nite. The rain littlt off the sky cleart and the moon come out. We put the boars head on the poal up on top of the gate house. His tusks glimmert and you cud see a dryd up trickl from the corners of his eyes like 1 las tear from each. Old Lorna Elswint our tel woman up there getting the tel of the head. Littl kids down be low playing Fools Circel 9wys. Singing: It were Full of the Moon that night. The rain littled off, the sky cleared, and the moon come out. We put the boar's head on the pole up on top of the gatehouse. His tusks glimmered and you could see a dried up trickle from the corners of his eyes, like one last tear from each. Old Lorna Elswint, our tell woman up there, getting the tell of the head. Little kids down below playing Fool's Circle nine ways. Singing:
Horny Boy rung Widders Bel
Stoal his Fathers Ham as wel
Bernt his Arse and Forkt a Stoan
Done It Over broak a boan
Out of Good Shoar vackt his wayt
Scratcht Sams Itch for No. 8
Gone to senter nex to see
Cambry coming 3 times 3
Sharna pax and get the poal
When the Ardship of Cambry comes out of the hoal
Horny Boy rung Widows Bell
Stole his Father's Ham as well
Burnt his Arse and Forked a Stone
Done It Over broke a bone
Out of Good Shore vacked his weight
Scratched Sam's Itch for number eight.
Gone to senter next to see
Cambry coming three times three
Sharna pax and get the pole
When the Hardship of Cambry comes out of the hole
Littl 2way Digman being the Ardship going roun the circel til it come chopping time. He bustit out after the 3rd chop. I use to be good at that I all ways rathert be the Ardship nor 1 of the circel I liket the busting out part. Little two-way Digman being the Hardship going round the circle till it come chopping time. He busted out after the third chop. I used to be good at that. I always rather'd be the Hardship, nor one of the circle. I liked the busting out part.
I gone up to the platform I took Lorna a nice tender line of the boar. She wer sitting up there in her doss bag she ben smoaking she wer hy. I give her the meat and I said, "Lorna wil you tel for me?" I gone up to the platform. I took Lorna a nice, tender line of the boar. She were sitting up there in her doss bag. She been smoking. She were high. I give her the meat and I said, 'Lorna will you tell for me?'
She said, "Riddley Riddley theres mor to life nor asking and telling. Whynt you be the Big Boar and Iwl be the Moon Sow." She said, 'Riddley, Riddley there's more to life nor asking and telling. Why not you be the Big Boar and I'll be the Moon Sow?'
When the Moon Sow
When the Moon Sow comes to season
Ay! She wants a big 1
Wants the Big Boar hevvy on her
Ay yee! Big Boar what makes the groun shake
Wyld of the Woodling with the wite tusk
Ay yee! That wyld big 1 for the Moon Sow
When the Moon Sow
When the Moon Sow comes to season
Ay! She wants a big one
Wants the Big Boar heavy on her
Ay yee! Big Boar that makes the ground shake
Wild of the Woodling with the white tusk
Ay yee! That wild big one for the Moon Sow
She sung that in my ear then we freshent the Luck up there on top of the gate house. She wer the oldes in our crowd but her voyce wernt old. It made the res of her seam yung for a littl. It wer a col nite but we wer warm in that doss bag. Lissening to the dogs howling aftrwds and the wind wuthering and wearying and nattering in the oak leaves. Looking at the moon all col and wite and oansome. Lorna said to me, "You know Riddley theres some thing in us it dont have no name." She sung that in my ear. Then we freshened the Luck up there on top of the gatehouse. She were the oldest in our crowd, but her voice weren't old. It made the rest of her seem young for a little. It were a cold night, but we were warm in that doss bag. Listening to the dogs howling afterwards and the wind wuthering and wearying and nattering in the oak leaves. Looking at the moon all cold and white and lonesome. Lorna said to me, 'You know, Riddley, there's something in us, it don't have no name.'
I said, "What thing is that?" I said, 'What thing is that?'
She said, "Its some kynd of thing it aint us but yet its in us. Its looking out thru our eye hoals. May be you dont take no noatis of it only some times. Say you get woak up suddn in the middl of the nite. 1 minim youre a sleap and the nex youre on your feet with a spear in your han. Wel it wernt you put that spear in your han it wer that other thing whats looking out thru your eye hoals. It aint you nor it dont even know your name. Its in us lorn and loan and sheltering how it can." She said, 'Its some kind of thing. It ain't us, but yet it's in us. It's looking out through our eyeholes. Maybe you don't take no notice of it. Only sometimes. Say you get woke up sudden in the middle of the night. One minute you're asleep and the next you're on your feet with a spear in your hand. Well it weren't you put that spear in your hand, it were that other thing that's looking out through your eyeholes. It ain't you, nor it don't even know your name. It's in us lorn and alone and sheltering how it can.'
I said, "If its in every 1 of us theres moren 1 of it theres got to be a manying theres got to be a millying and mor." I said, 'If it's in everyone of us, there's more than one of it. There's got to be a manying. There's got to be a million and more.'
Lorna said, "Wel there is a millying and mor." Lorna said, 'Well, there is a million and more.'
I said, "Wel if theres such a manying of it whys it lorn then whys it loan?" I said, 'Well, if there's such a manying of it, why's it lorn then? Why's it alone?'
She said, "Becaws the manying and the millying its all 1 thing it dont have nothing to gether with. You look at lykens on a stoan its all them tiny manyings of it and may be each part of it myt think its sepert only we can see its all 1 thing. Thats how it is with what we are its all 1 girt big thing and divvyt up amongst the many. Its all 1 girt thing bigger nor the won and lorn and loan and oansome. Tremmering it is and feart. It puts us on like we put on our does. Some times we dont fit. Some times it cant fynd the arm hoals and it tears us a part. I dont think I took all that much noatis of it when I ben yung. Now Im old I noatis it mor. It dont realy like to put me on no mor. Every morning I can feal how its tiret of me and readying to throw me a way. Iwl tel you some thing Riddley and keap this in memberment. What ever it is we dont come naturel to it." She said, 'Because the manying and the million, its all one thing. It don't have nothing together with. You look at lichens on a stone, its all them tiny manyings of it. And maybe each part of it might think it's separate. Only we can see it's all one thing. That's how it is with what we are. It's all one great big thing and divvied up amongst the many. Its all one great thing bigger, nor the won and lorn and alone and lonesome. Trembling it is and afeared. It puts us on like we put on our does. Sometimes we don't fit. Sometimes it can't find the armholes and it tears us apart. I don't think I took all that much notice of it when I been young. Now I'm old, I notice it more. It don't really like to put me on no more. Every morning, I can feel how it's tired of me and readying to throw me away. I'll tell you something, Riddley, and keep this in memberment. Whatever it is, we don't come natural to it.'
I said, "Lorna I dont know what you mean." I said, 'Lorna, I don't know what you mean.'
She said, "We aint a naturel part of it. We dint begin when it begun we dint begin where it begun. It ben here befor us nor I dont know what we are to it. May be weare jus only sickness and a feaver to it or boyls on the arse of it I dont know. Now lissen what Im going to tel you Riddley. It thinks us but it dont think like us. It dont think the way we think. Plus like I said befor its afeart." She said, 'We ain't a natural part of it. We didn't begin when it begun. We didn't begin where it begun. It been here before us, nor I don't know what we are to it. Maybe we're just only sickness and a fever to it, or boils on the arse of it. I don't know. Now listen what I'm going to tell you, Riddley. It thinks us, but it don't think like us. It don't think the way we think. Plus, like I said before, it's afeared.'
I said, "Whats it afeart of?" I said, 'What's it afeared of?'
She said, "Its afeart of being beartht." She said, 'Its afeared of being birthed.'
I said, "How can that be? You said it ben here befor us. If it ben here all this time it musve ben beartht some time." I said, 'How can that be? You said it been here before us. If it's been here all this time it, must've been birthed some time.'
She said, "No it aint ben beartht it never does get beartht its all ways in the woom of things its all ways on the road." She said, 'No, it ain't been birthed. It never does get birthed. It's always in the womb of things. It's always on the road.'
I said, "All this what you jus ben telling be that a tel for me?" I said, 'All this that you just been telling, be that a tell for me?'
She larft then she said, "Riddley there aint nothing what aint a tel for you. The wind in the nite the dus on the road even the leases stoan you kick a long in front of you. Even the shadder of that leases stoan roaling on or stanning stil its all telling." She laughed. Then she said, 'Riddley there ain't nothing that ain't a tell for you. The wind in the night, the dust on the road, even the leases stone you kick along in front of you. Even the shadow of that leases stone rolling on or standing still, it's all telling.'
Wel I cant say for cern no mor if I had any of them things in my mynd befor she tol me but ever since then it seams like they all ways ben there. Seams like I ben all ways thinking on that thing in us what thinks us but it dont think like us. Our woal life is a idear we dint think of nor we dont know what it is. What a way to live. Well I can't say for certain no more if I had any of them things in my mind before she told me. But ever since then, it seems like they always been there. Seems like I been always thinking on that thing in us what thinks us but it don't think like us. Our whole life is a idea we didn't think of, nor we don't know what it is. What a way to live.
Thats why I finely come to writing all this down. Thinking on what the idear of us myt be. Thinking on that thing whats in us lorn and loan and oansome. That's why I finally come to writing all this down. Thinking on what the idea of us might be. Thinking on that thing what's in us lorn and alone and lonesome.


Chapter 2
Original Revised
Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddels where ever theyve took me and walking them now on this paper the same. Walker is my name and I am the same. Riddley Walker. Walking my riddles wherever they've took me, and walking them now on this paper the same.
I dont think it makes no diffrents where you start the telling of a thing. You never know where it begun realy. No moren you know where you begun your oan self. You myt know the place and day and time of day when you ben beartht. You myt even know the place and day and time when you ben got. That dont mean nothing tho. You stil dont know where you begun. I don't think it makes no difference where you start the telling of a thing. You never know where it begun, really. No more than you know where you begun your own self. You might know the place and day and time of day when you been born. You might even know the place and day and time when you been got. That don't mean nothing, though. You still don't know where you begun.
Ive all ready wrote down about my naming day. It wernt no moren 3 days after that my dad got kilt in the digging at Widders Dump and I wer the loan of my name. I've already wrote down about my naming day. It weren't no more than three days after that my dad got killed in the digging at Widow's Dump and I were the lone of my name.
Dad and me we jus come off forage rota and back on jobbing that day. The hoal we ben working we ben on it 24 days. Which Ive never liket 12 its a judgd men number innit and this ben 2 of them. Wed pernear cleart out down to the chalk and hevvy mucking it ben. Nothing lef in the hoal only sortit thru muck and the smel of it and some girt big rottin iron thing some kynd of machine it wer you cudnt tel what it wer. Dad and me, we just come off forage rota and back on jobbing that day. The hole we been working, we been on it 24 days. Which I've never liked 12. It's a judgment number, isn't it? And this been two of them. We'd pretty near cleared out down to the chalk and heavy mucking it been. Nothing left in the hole. Only sorted through muck. And the smell of it. And some great big rotting iron thing. Some kind of machine it were. You couldn't tell what it were.
Til then any thing big we all ways bustit up in the hoal. Winch a girt big buster rock up on the crane and drop it down on what ever we wer busting. Finish up with han hammers then theywd drag the peaces to the reddy for the melting. This time tho the 1stman tol us word come down they dint want this thing bustit up we wer to get it out in tack. So we ben sturgling with the girt big thing nor the woal 20 of us cudnt shif it we cudnt even lif it jus that littl bit to get the sling unner neath of it. Up to our knees in muck we wer. Even with the drain wed dug the hoal wer mucky from the rains. And col. It wer only jus the 2nd mooning of the year and winter long in going. Till then, anything big we always busted up in the hole. Winch a great big buster rock up on the crane and drop it down on whatever we were busting. Finish up with hand hammers. Then they'd drag the pieces to the ready for the melting. This time, though, the firstman told us word come down they didn't want this thing busted up. We were to get it out intact. So we been struggling with the great big thing, nor the whole 20 of us couldn't shift it. We couldn't even lift it just that little bit to get the sling underneath of it. Up to our knees in muck we were. Even with the drain we'd dug, the hole were mucky from the rains. And cold. It were only just the second mooning of the year, and winter long in going.
We got hevvy poals and leavering it up jus a nuff to get a roap roun 1 end of it we had in mynd to shif that girt thing jus a littl with the crane so we cud get it parper slung then winch it out of there. It wer a 16 man treadl crane with 2 weals 4 men inside 4 men outside each weal. Userly I wuntve ben on the crane we all ways put our hevvyes on them weals. All we had tho wer 20 in all and we neadit some mussl on the leaver poals so I wer up there on the lef han weal with our hardes hevvy Fister Crunchman we wer the front 2 on that weal. Durster Potter and Jobber Easting behynt us. Straiter Empy our Big Man he wer down in the hoal with Dad and 2 others. Us on the out side of the weals looking tords the hoal and them on the in side looking a way from it. We got heavy poles and levering it up just enough to get a rope round one end of it. We had in mind to shift that great thing just a little with the crane so we could get it proper slung, then winch it out of there. It were a 16-man treadle crane with two wheels, four men inside, four men outside each wheel. Usually, I wouldn't have been on the crane. We always put our heavies on them wheels. All we had, though, were 20 in all and we needed some muscle on the lever poles. So I were up there on the left-hand wheel with our hardest heavy, Fister Crunchman. We were the front two on that wheel, Durster Potter and Jobber Easting behind us. Straiter Empy, our Big Man, he were down in the hole with Dad and two others. Us on the outside of the wheels looking towards the hole and them on the inside looking away from it.
We took up the slack then Straiter Empy give the syn and Chalker Marchman the Widders Dump 1stman chanting us on: We took up the slack, then Straiter Empy give the sign and Chalker Marchman, the Widow's Dump firstman, chanting us on:
Gone ter morrer here to day
Pick it up and walk a way
Dont you know greaf and woe
Pick it up its time to go
Greaf and woe dont you know
Pick it up its time to go
Gone tomorrow, here today
Pick it up and walk away
Don't you know grief and woe
Pick it up, it's time to go
Grief and woe, don't you know
Pick it up, it's time to go
Roun we gone with the roap winching in and the A frame taking the strain. Straiter Empy and Skyway Moaters leavering the girt thing wylst we wincht and Dad and Leaster Digman working the sling unner. Round we gone with the rope winching in and the A-frame taking the strain. Straiter Empy and Skyway Moaters levering the great thing whilst we winched and Dad and Leaster Digman working the sling under.
London Town is drownt this day Hear me say walk a way
Sling your bundel tern and go Parments in the mud you
know Greaf and woe dont you know Pick it up its time
to go
London Town is drowned this day. Hear me say walk away
Sling your bundle, turn and go, Parliaments in the mud. You
know Grief and woe, don't you know. Pick it up, it's time
to go
Weals creaking stoppers knocking 32 legs going. The roap gone iron hard and the girt big thing coming up out of the muck all black and rottin unner the grey sky. A crow going over and it had the right of us. Wheels creaking, stoppers knocking, 32 legs going. The rope gone iron hard and the great big thing coming up out of the muck all black and rotten under the grey sky. A crow going over and it had the right of us.
Dad and me looking up at the crow. I knowit that crow wer going to say some thing unner that grey sky. I knowit that crow wer going to tel. Dad and me looking up at the crow. I knowed that crow were going to say something under that grey sky. I knowed that crow were going to tell.
The crow yelt, "Fall! Fall! Fall!" I dont know if I wer falling befor he said that or not. The treadls wer wet and slippy but I had a good grip on the railing any how I thot I did. But there I wer with my feet gone out from unner me and nothing in my han. Falling I wer I knockt Durster Potter and Jobber Easting luce and they grabbit me they dint have nothing else to hol on to. Fister Crunchman cawt my arm only the railing he had holt of with his other han come a way in his han and off he gone with the res of us. I cud see in my mynd how funny it musve lookit I wer near larfing with it only I seen that weal going backards and I heard some thing tear luce it wer the stoppers 2 on each weal all 4 gone whanging off. Boath weals screachit and the 4 bloaks on the out side of the other weal shot off tords the hoal like stoans out of a sling. Wel it wen the load took charge and SPLOOSH! Down it come that girt big thing it made a jynt splosh and black muck going up slow and hy in to the air. That girt old black machine fel back in to the muck with my dad unner neath of it. It all happent so fas the crow wer sill in site he larft then. "Haw! Haw! Haw!" and off he flappit. The crow yelled, 'Fall! Fall! Fall!' I don't know if I were falling before he said that or not. The treadles were wet and slippery, but I had a good grip on the railing. Anyhow, I thought I did. But there I were with my feet gone out from under me and nothing in my hand. Falling I were. I knocked Durster Potter and Jobber Easting loose and they grabbed me. They didn't have nothing else to hold onto. Fister Crunchman caught my arm, only the railing he had hold of with his other hand come away in his hand and off he gone with the rest of us. I could see in my mind how funny it must've looked. I were near laughing with it, only I seen that wheel going backwards and I heard something tear loose. It were the stoppers, two on each wheel, all four gone whanging off. Both wheels screeched and the four blokes on the outside of the other wheel shot off towards the hole like stones out of a sling. Well, it went. The load took charge and SPLOOSH! Down it come, that great big thing. It made a giant splosh and black muck going up slow and high into the air. That great old black machine fell back into the muck with my dad underneath of it. It all happened so fast, the crow were still in sight. He laughed then. 'Haw! Haw! Haw!' And off he flapped.
We pickt our selfs up then all but 1 of us. The roap wer sill fas to the girt big thing. We all got on that roap then we dint use the weal winch only the A frame and the pullys. Chalker Manchman chanting us on the strait pul: We picked ourselves up then, all but one of us. The rope were still fast to the great big thing. We all got on that rope then. We didn't use the wheel winch, only the A-frame and the pulleys. Chalker Manchman chanting us on the straight pull:
Heard it and the news of 10
Sling your bundel haul agen
Haul agen and hump your load
Every bodys on the road
Heard it and the news of ten
Sling your bundle haul again
Haul again and hump your load
Everybody's on the road
We shiffit the thing and got Dad out from unner. Parbly it kilt him soons it come down on him he dint have no time to drown in the muck. He wer all smasht up you cudnt tel whose face it ben it mytve ben any bodys. We shifted the thing and got Dad out from under. Probably it killed him soons it come down on him. He didn't have no time to drown in the muck. He were all smashed up. You couldn't tell whose face it been. It might've been anybody's.
I begun to clym all over that thing then. That girt big black thing. I wen looking to see if it had a name stampt in or raisd up in the iron of it like them things do some times. It had a shel of old muck stoan hard unner the new muck tho nor I cudnt fynd no name. I begun to climb all over that thing then, that great big black thing. I went looking to see if it had a name stamped in or raised up in the iron of it, like them things do sometimes. It had a shell of old muck stone hard under the new muck though, nor I couldn't find no name.
Every 1 wer saying, "What is it Riddley whatre you doing?" I said, "My dad ben kilt by some thing I dont even know the name of aint that a larf." I begun larfing then I cudnt stop. Everyone were saying, 'What is it Riddley? What're you doing?' I said, 'My dad been killed by something I don't even know the name of. Ain't that a laugh?' I begun laughing then. I couldn't stop.
They let me have my larfing out but I wer stil wanting some thing some kynd of las word some kynd of onwith. If I wernt going to get it from Dad at leas I wantit some thing for onwith even if it wernt nothing only the name of that girt black thing what smasht him flat so you cudnt even tel whose face it ben. I said that to Fister Crunchman. They let me have my laughing out. But I were still wanting something. Some kind of last word. Some kind of onwith. If I weren't going to get it from Dad, at least I wanted something for onwith. Even if it weren't nothing, only the name of that great black thing what smashed him flat so you couldn't even tell whose face it been. I said that to Fister Crunchman.
He said, "You look at your dads face Riddley thats what Widders Dump done to him theres your onwith." He said, 'You look at your dad's face, Riddley. Thats what Widow's Dump done to him. There's your onwith.'
I said, "It wernt Widders Dump done it to him it wer me I los my footing and I pult you with me. It wer me made the woal of us lose our perchis." I said, 'It weren't Widow's Dump done it to him. It were me. I lost my footing and I pulled you with me. It were me made the whole of us lose our purchase.'
Fister said, "That load wer too much for that weal. It wernt us falling kilt your dad it wer the stoppers coming luce and the weal took charge."Fister said, 'That load were too much for that wheel. It weren't us falling killed your dad. It were the stoppers coming loose and the wheel took charge.'
Straiter Empy said, "Fisters right it wer too much of a load for that weal." Straiter Empy said, 'Fister's right. It were too much of a load for that wheel.'
Chalker Marchman said to Straiter, "It wer you lot put it on the weal. All I tol you wer to get that thing out of the hoal. You cudve draggit cudnt you I never give you the do it for the weal. Any how that weal wudve ben all right if youd had a nuff hevvyness on it and kep your hevvyness where it ben meant to be." Chalker Marchman said to Straiter, 'It were you lot put it on the wheel. All I told you were to get that thing out of the hole. You could've dragged it, couldn't you? I never give you the do it for the wheel. Anyhow that wheel would've been all right if you'd had enough heaviness on it and kept your heaviness where it been meant to be.'
Straiter said, "Widders Dumpwl give comping station for Brooder Walker tho youwl do that much wont you." Straiter said, 'Widow's Dump'll give compensation for Brooder Walker, though. You'll do that much, won't you?'
Chalker Marchman said, "O yes wewl sen Reckman Bessup with it hewl road back to fents with you."Chalker Marchman said, 'Oh, yes. We'll send Reckman Bessup with it. He'll road back to fence with you.'
We borrert a drag to take Dad hoam. Going back to fents then all of us. They give us ful days meat at Widders Dump and Reckman Bessup he wer ther connexion man he brung the comping station. What we callit dead mans iron and he carrit on his back.We borrowed a drag to take Dad home. Going back to fence, then, all of us. They give us full day's meat at Widow's Dump. And Reckman Bessup, he were their connection man. He brung the compensation—what we called 'dead man's iron'— and he carried it on his back.
We wer going out thru the gate when there gone up behynt us the death wail loud and strong it musve ben 40 peopl at leas. All them voyces going up black and sharp and falling a way in a groan: AIYEEEEE.We were going out through the gate when there gone up behind us the death wail, loud and strong. It must've been 40 people at least. All them voices going up black and sharp and falling away in a groan: AIYEEEEE.
I said to Reckman Bessup, "That cant be for my dad he wernt nothing to them."I said to Reckman Bessup, 'That can't be for my dad. He weren't nothing to them.'
He said, "Its a babby dead beartht. That babby come in to the worl dead same time as your dad gone with Aunty."He said, 'Its a baby dead-born. That baby come into the world dead same time as your dad gone with Aunty.'
I said, "Is there a connexion?"I said, 'Is there a connection?'
He said, "Not 1 as Iwl make."He said, 'Not one as I'll make.'
Going back slow then there come dogs follering on our track we hadnt seen none that day til then. Shapit black is how I think of them tho mos of them are patchy colourt. Its the hy leggitness of them. Ther thick necks and littl heads and littl ears. It wer the Bernt Arse pack with ther black and red spottit leader. All of them head down and slumping on behynt us jus out of bow shot. I wer looking at the leader and waiting for some thing I cud feal it in my froat. He dint have his head down he had it up and looking tords us.Going back slow, then, there come dogs following on our track. We hadn't seen none that day till then. Shaped black is how I think of them, though most of them are patchy colored. It's the high-leggedness of them. Their thick necks and little heads and little ears. It were the Burnt Arse pack with their black-and-red spotted leader. All of them head down and slumping on behind us, just out of bow shot. I were looking at the leader and waiting for something. I could feel it in my throat. He didn't have his head down. He had it up and looking towards us.
There begun to be some rowling and yipping and yapping from the other dogs then crowding the leader and him terning. Grooling and smarling he wer but the others crowdit on him then the leader he come running tords us. The other dogs dint foller they hung back and he come oansome.There begun to be some growling and yipping and yapping from the other dogs, then crowding the leader and him turning. Drooling and snarling he were, but the others crowded on him. Then the leader, he come running towards us. The other dogs didn't follow. They hung back and he come lonesome.
All of us stoppt then and looking at the dog. Not 1 of us put arrer to string we all knowit wernt that kynd of thing. I steppt out a littl way from the others and they all movit a way from me it wer like some thing you do in a dream. Straiter Empy said, "Riddley hes offering and hes favering you."All of us stopped then and looking at the dog. Not one of us put arrow to string. We all knowed it weren't that kind of thing. I stepped out a little way from the others and they all moved away from me. It were like something you do in a dream. Straiter Empy said, 'Riddley, he's offering and he's favoring you.'
I stood there and holding ready with my spear. Nothing like it never happent befor but it wer like it all ways ben there happening. The dog getting bigger bigger unner the grey sky and me waiting with the spear. It dint seam like the running brung him on tho he wer moving fas. It wer mor like he ben running for ever in 1 place not moving on jus getting bigger bigger til he wer big a nuff to be in front of me with his face all rinkelt back from his teef. Jus in that fraction of a minim the dogs face and the boars face from my naming day they flickert to gether with my dads face all smasht. I helt the spear and he run on to it. Lying there and kicking with his yeller eyes on me and I finisht him with my knife.I stood there and holding ready with my spear. Nothing like it never happened before, but it were like it always been there happening. The dog getting bigger bigger under the grey sky and me waiting with the spear. It didn't seem like the running brung him on, though he were moving fast. It were more like he been running forever in one place, not moving on just getting bigger. Bigger till he were big enough to be in front of me with his face all wrinkled back from his teeth. Just in that fraction of a minute, the dog's face and the boar's face from my naming day, they flickered together with my dad's face all smashed. I held the spear and he run on to it. Lying there and kicking with his yellow eyes on me. And I finished him with my knife.
Straiter Empy said, "Look how his teefs woar down and hes all girzelt. A old leader come to his time and crowdit out come back to us to dy. Ive heard of it but I never seen it befor. Its Luck to you Riddley."Straiter Empy said, 'Look how his teeth wore down and he's all grizzled. A old leader come to his time and crowded out come back to us to die. I've heard of it, but I never seen it before. It's Luck to you Riddley.'
We laid the dog acrost Dads legs. Reckman Bessup said to me, "This dogs offert his self to your dad. Made his Plomercy and now theywl boath look at the nite to gether."We laid the dog across Dad's legs. Reckman Bessup said to me, 'This dog's offered himself to your dad. Made his Plomercy and now they'll both look at the night together.'
I said to Reckman Bessup, "Heres my dad dead and this dog and that babby at Widders Dump all on the same day. Be there a connexion?"I said to Reckman Bessup, 'Here's my dad dead and this dog and that baby at Widow's Dump all on the same day. Be there a connection?'
He said, "Whynt you stop asking me that. What I connect is shows I aint no tel woman nor I dont know nothing about blips nor syns."He said, 'Why not you stop asking me that? What I connect is shows I ain't no tell woman. Nor I don't know nothing about blips nor signs.'
I said, "Thats as may be but youre stanning here and seen what happent plus you ben at Widders Dump this morning."I said, 'That's as may be, but you're standing here and seen what happened. Plus, you been at Widow's Dump this morning.'
He thot on it a littl then. A sour man but cudnt help getting a littl interstit. He said, "I wunt try no tel but you can tel your oan self. Every 1 knows if you get blipful things to gether you take the farthes out 1 for the nindicater. Whats the farthes out 1 of the 3 youve namit?"He thought on it a little then. A sour man, but couldn't help getting a little interested. He said, 'I won't try no tell, but you can tell your own self. Everyone knows if you get blipful things together you take the farthest out one for the indicator. What's the farthest out one of the three you've named?'
I said, "The dog."I said, 'The dog.'
He said, "Whats a dog? Its some-thing you cant get close to. They keap ther farness nor you cant trap them nyther theyre too clevver. Plus theyre a danger theywl eat you if they catch you oansome and they go mad at Ful of the Moon. So here youve got a far thing come close and a danger thing as cudnt be trappt offers its self. How old myt you be?"He said, 'What's a dog? Its something you can't get close to. They keep their farness, nor you can't trap them neither. They're too clever. Plus, they're a danger. They'll eat you if they catch you lonesome. And they go mad at Full of the Moon. So here you've got a far thing come close and a danger thing as couldn't be trapped offers itself. How old might you be?'
I said, "I jus come 12 at Ful of the Moon."I said, 'I just come twelve at Full of the Moon.'
He said, "Heres a old woar out leader took by a boy what aint a boy no mor hes come 12 and a man. You hearing any tel?" I said, "The far come close took by the littl come big."He said, 'Here's a old wore out leader took by a boy what ain't a boy no more. He's come twelve and a man. You hearing any tell?'
He said, "You said it I dint. I dont say no farther you bes tel your oan self on from there. No use asking other peopl they dont know no moren you do. Now your dads gone youwl be connexion man at How Fents peopl wil be asking you in stead of you asking them. You bes start putting things to gether for your self you aint a kid no mor."I said, 'The far come close took by the little come big.'
He said, 'You said it, I didn't. I don't say no farther, you best tell your own self on from there. No use asking other people. They don't know no more than you do. Now your dad's gone, you'll be connection man at How Fence. People will be asking you instead of you asking them. You best start putting things together for yourself. You ain't a kid no more.'
When we movit on the dogs they slumpt off back to Bernt Arse Dead Town it wer like they only come out that day for that 1 thing. Smoak coming up in Bernt Arse from the out poast there wer all ways hevvys there on rota from the Ram. Every day we gone the same way to and from and every day we seen that smoak nor I never give it no thot. This day tho every thing begun to look diffrent. Like I never seen it befor. You know that kynd of playsy kids have some times. Its a funny face paintit on a flat peace of wood and theres 2 hoals to roal the eyes in to. Clay ball eyes and you slant the face 1 way and the other til they roal in to the hoals. Wel this day it seamt like the worl begun to roal. The worl begun to seam like 1 big crazy eye and roaling. I wer afeart it myt roal right off the face and dispear.When we moved on, the dogs, they slumped off back to Burnt Arse. Dead Town it were, like they only come out that day for that one thing. Smoke coming up in Burnt Arse from the outpost. There were always heavies there on rota from the Ram. Every day, we gone the same way to and from and every day we seen that smoke. Nor I never give it no thought. This day, though, everything begun to look different. Like I never seen it before. You know that kind of playsy kids have some times. It's a funny face painted on a flat piece of wood. And there's two holes to roll the eyes into. Clay ball eyes and you slant the face one way and the other till they roll into the holes. Well, this day it seemed like the world begun to roll. The world begun to seem like one big crazy eye and rolling. I were afeared it might roll right off the face and disappear.
Looking at that smoak coming up in the dead town and my mynd stil running on the dogs. There ben the dead towns all them years. Ram out poasts in 1 part of them and dogs hoalt up in other parts. And all them years you heard storys of dog peopl. Peopl with dogs heads and dogs with peopls heads. Some said come Ful of the Moon they all run to gether in the Black Pack. Dogs and dog peopl to gether. The Ram dint allow no 1 in the dead towns but when I ben littl we use to sly in when ever we got the chance and kids a nuff for crowd. Trying if we cud see dog peopl. Fork Stoan it ben befor we livet near Bernt Arse. We never seen nothing only the hevvys and they all ways seen us off qwick. We heard things tho some times. Singing or howling or crying, or larfing you cudnt qwite say what it wer or what it wernt.Looking at that smoke coming up in the dead town, and my mind still running on the dogs. There been the dead towns all them years. Ram outposts in one part of them and dogs holed up in other parts. And all them years, you heard stories of dog people. People with dogs' heads and dogs with people's heads. Some said, come Full of the Moon, they all run together in the Black Pack. Dogs and dog people together. The Ram didn't allow no one in the dead towns, but when I been little, we used to sly in whenever we got the chance and kids enough for crowd. Trying if we could see dog people. Fork Stone it been before we lived near Burnt Arse. We never seen nothing, only the heavies. And they always seen us off quick. We heard things though sometimes. Singing or howling or crying, or laughing. You couldn't quite say what it were or what it weren't.
My dad use to say all that about the dog peopl wer jus so much cow shit. He said hewd give odds it wer plittical and no dogs heads to it at all. Wel this aint the place to say no mor about it Iwl tel that part when I come to it. Ive only wrote this down here becaws my mynd ben running on it that day and if itd run farther I mytve knowit mor. There aint that many sir prizes in life if you take noatis of every thing. Every time wil have its happenings out and every place the same. What ever eats mus shit.My dad used to say all that about the dog people were just so much cow shit. He said he'd give odds it were political and no dogs' heads to it at all. Well, this ain't the place to say no more about it. I'll tell that part when I come to it. I've only wrote this down here because my mind been running on it that day, and if it'd run farther, I might've known it more. There ain't that many surprises in life if you take notice of everything. Every time will have its happenings out and every place the same. Whatever eats must shit.
We got back to fents and then the death wail gone for Brooder Walker. We done comping station then. Reckman Bessup he said, "1 of yours is dead with us. I have it on me wil you take it off me?"We got back to fence and then the death wail gone for Brooder Walker. We done compensation then. Reckman Bessup, he said, 'One of yours is dead with us. I have it on me. Will you take it off me?'
I said, "Yes Iwl take it off." I took the iron off his back then. That wer the onlyes iron I ever seen out of all them years jobbing at Widders Dump. 5 10wts of iron for Brooder Walker.I said, 'Yes, I'll take it off.' I took the iron off his back then. That were the only iron I ever seen out of all them years jobbing at Widow's Dump. Five ten-weights of iron for Brooder Walker.
My dad he wer 33 when he dyd. My mum she dyd of the coffing sickness when I wer 5. This what Ive ben writing down here it happent when I ben with How Fents. On the Bundel Downs near the Rivver Sour about 4 faggers Norf and Eas of Bernt Arse Dead Town and about 15 faggers Souf and Wes of Cambry.My dad, he were 33 when he died. My mum, she died of the coughing sickness when I were five. This what I've been writing down here. It happened when I been with How Fence. On the Bundle Downs near the River Sour, about four faggers North and East of Burnt Arse Dead Town and about 15 faggers South and West of Cambry.

Chapter 3
Original Revised
This is stil that same day Im writing down here. The day my dad got kilt. We put the dogs head on the poal on top of the gate house. Lorna Elswint up there with it. Littl Kids zanting down be low. Playing Black Pack and singing:This is still that same day I'm writing down here. The day my dad got killed. We put the dog's head on the pole on top of the gate house. Lorna Elswint up there with it. Little Kids zanting down below. Playing Black Pack and singing:
Ful of the Moon Ful of the Moon
Ful of the Moon nor dont look back
Folleree Folleroo on your track
Oo hoo hoo Yoop yaroo
Folleree Folleroo follering you
If they catch you in the darga
Arga warga
Full of the Moon Full of the Moon
Full of the Moon nor don't look back
Folleree Folleroo on your track
Oo hoo hoo Yoop yaroo
Folleree Folleroo following you
If they catch you in the darga
Arga warga
Lorna she lookit oven the side she said to the kids, "There aint no Ful Moon this nite there aint no Black Pack running. Its 2 days pas the Ful."Lorna, she looked oven the side. She said to the kids, 'There ain't no Full Moon this night. There ain't no Black Pack running. Its two days past the Full.'
Littl Nimbel Potter he said, "3rd of the Ful and stil shewl pul. My dad he seen Riddley Walker kil that dog and my dad he said that dog wil fetch."Little Nimble Potter, he said, 'third of the Full and still she'll pull. My dad, he seen Riddley Walker kill that dog. And my dad, he said that dog will fetch.'
Lorna said, "Fetch what?"Lorna said, 'Fetch what?'
Nimbel said, "Fetch some 1 over to the dog peopl." He laid his head over on 1 side to show his neck and he showit his teef like he wer a dog and going to bite.Nimble said, 'Fetch someone over to the dog people.' He laid his head over on one side to show his neck and he showed his teeth like he were a dog and going to bite.
Lorna said, "Nimbel you ever seen any dog peopl?"Lorna said, 'Nimble, you ever seen any dog people?'
Nimbel said, "O yes Ive seen them times a nuff."Nimbel said, 'Oh, yes. I've seen them times enough.'
Lorna said, "Whatd they look like then?"Lorna said, 'What'd they look like, then?'
Nimbel said, "They throw a wite shadder dont they. Every body knows that." He ternt his self roun then and gone back to playing with the others. Singing:Nimble said, 'They throw a white shadow, don't they? Everybody knows that.' He turned himself round then and gone back to playing with the others. Singing:
Gennl men wil do it front to back
When they do it with the ladys of the Ful Moon pack
All the ladys do it back to front
When they drop ther nickers and they show ther
Moony in the holler moony on the hil
If you wont do it then your sister wil
Gentlemen will do it front to back
When they do it with the ladies of the Full Moon pack
All the ladies do it back to front
When they drop their knickers and they show their
Moony in the hollow moony on the hill
If you won't do it, then your sister will
I gone up on the gate house and looking at the head. The day gone colder. The muddling from the rains froze hard and the calling of the crows col on the air. Looking at that old leaders woar down teef.I gone up on the gate house and looking at the head. The day gone colder. The muddling from the rains froze hard and the calling of the crows cold on the air. Looking at that old leaders wore-down teeth.
Lorna said to me, "You heard the story of why the dog wont show its eyes?"Lorna said to me, 'You heard the story of why the dog won't show its eyes?'
I said, "No I never."I said, 'No, I never.'
She said, "Thats what happens with peopl on the way down from what they ben. The storys go." She tol me the story then. This is it wrote down the same:She said, 'That's what happens with people on the way down from what they been, the stories go.' She told me the story then. This is it wrote down the same:
Why the Dog Wont Show Its EyesWhy the Dog Wont Show Its Eyes
Time back way way back befor peopl got clevver they had the 1st knowing. They los it when they got the clevverness and now the clevverness is gone as wel.Time back way, way back before people got clever, they had the first knowing. They lost it when they got the cleverness. And now the cleverness is gone as well.
Every thing has a shape and so does the nite only you cant see the shape of nite nor you cant think it. If you put your self right you can know it. Not with knowing in your head but with the 1st knowing. Where the number creaper grows on the dead stoans and the groun is sour for 3 days digging the nite stil knows the shape of its self tho we dont. Some times the nite is the shape of a ear only it aint a ear we know the shape of. Lissening back for all the souns whatre gone from us. The hummering of the dead towns and the voyces befor the towns ben there. Befor the iron ben and fire ben only littl. Lissening for whats coming as wel.Everything has a shape and so does the night. Only you can't see the shape of night, nor you can't think it. If you put yourself right, you can know it. Not with knowing in your head, but with the first knowing. Where the number creeper grows on the dead stones and the ground is sour for three days digging, the night still knows the shape of itself, though we don't. Sometimes the night is the shape of a ear, only it ain't a ear we know the shape of. Listening back for all the sounds what're gone from us. The hummering of the dead towns and the voices before the towns been there. Before the iron been, and fire been only little. Listening for what's coming as well.
Time back way way back 1 time it wer Ful of the Moon and a man and woman sqwatting by then littl fire. Sqwatting by ther littl fire and afeart of the nite. The dog wer in the nite and looking tords the fire. It wernt howling it wer jus looking at the fire. The man and woman seen the fire shyning in the dogs eyes. The man throwit meat to the dog and the dog come in to them by the fire. Brung its eyes in out of the nite then they all lookit at the nite to gether. The man and the woman seen the nite in the dogs eyes and thats when they got the 1st knowing of it. They knowit the nite the same as the dog knowit.Time back way, way back, one time it were Full of the Moon and a man and woman squatting by then little fire. Squatting by their little fire and afeared of the night. The dog were in the night and looking towards the fire. It weren't howling, it were just looking at the fire. The man and woman seen the fire shining in the dog's eyes. The man threw meat to the dog and the dog come in to them by the fire. Brung its eyes in out of the night. Then they all looked at the night together. The man and the woman seen the night in the dogs eyes, and that's when they got the first knowing of it. They knowed the night the same as the dog knowed it.
You know what they got 1st knowing of. She has diffrent ways she shows her self. Shes that same 1 shows her moon self or she jus shows her old old nite and no moon. Shes that same 1 every thing and all of us come out of. Shes what she is. Shes a woman when shes Nite and shes a woman when shes Death. The nite bearths the day. Every day has the shape of the nite what it come out of. The man as knows that shape can go in to the nite in the nite and the nite in the day time. The woman as knows that shape can be the nite and take the day in her and bearth the new day.You know what they got first knowing of. She has different ways she shows herself. She's that same one shows her moon self or she just shows her old, old night and no moon. She's that same one everything and all of us come out of. She's what she is. She's a woman when she's Night and she's a woman when she's Death. The night births the day. Every day has the shape of the night what it comes out of. The man as knows that shape can go into the night in the night and the night in the daytime. The woman as knows that shape can be the night and take the day in her and birth the new day.
Wel they got that 1st knowing they got it looking in the dogs eyes in the Ful of the Moon. When the man and woman got that 1st knowing from the dog they made a contrack with the dog in the Ful of the Moon. They roadit on to gether with the dog and foraging to gether. Dint have no mor fear in the nite they put ther self right day and nite that wer the good time. Then they begun to think on it a littl. They said, "If the 1st knowing is this good what myt the 2nd knowing and the 3rd be and so on?"Well they got that first knowing. They got it looking in the dog's eyes in the Full of the Moon. When the man and woman got that first knowing from the dog, they made a contract with the dog in the Full of the Moon. They roaded on together with the dog and foraging together. Didn't have no more fear in the night. They put themselves right day and night. That were the good time. Then they begun to think on it a little. They said, 'If the first knowing is this good, what might the second knowing and the third be, and so on?'
They cawt a goat and lookit in its eye. You know what eye the goat has its the clevver eye. The man and woman looking in that clevver eye and they thot: Why shud we be foraging the woal time? They cawt other goats they made a fents and pent them up. They gethert weat and barly they had bread and beer then they wernt moving on the lan no mor they startit in to form it. Stoppit in 1 place then with sheds and stock and growings. They wernt outside in the nite no mor they wer inside looking out. The nite jus lookit dark to them they dint see nothing else to it no mor. They los out of memberment the shapes of nite and worrit for ther parpety they myt get snuck and raidit. They made the dog keap look out for ther parpety.They caught a goat and looked it in its eye. You know what eye the goat has. It's the clever eye. The man and woman looking in that clever eye and they thought: Why should we be foraging the whole time? They caught other goats. They made a fence and pent them up. They gathered wheat and barley. They had bread and beer. Then they weren't moving on the land no more. They started into farm it. Stopped in one place, then with sheds and stock and growings. They weren't outside in the night no more. They were inside looking out. The night just looked dark to them. They didn't see nothing else to it no more. They lost out of memberment the shapes of night and worried for their property. They might get snuck and raided. They made the dog keep look out for their property.
Every morning they were counting every thing to see if any thing ben took off in the nite. How many goats how many cows how many measurs weat and barly. Cudnt stop ther counting which wer clevverness and making mor the same. They said, "Them as counts counts moren them as dont count."Every morning, they were counting everything to see if anything been took off in the night. How many goats, how many cows, how many measures wheat and barley? Couldn't stop their counting, which were cleverness and making more the same. They said, 'Them as counts, counts more than them as don't count.'
Counting counting they wer all the time. They had iron then and big fire they had towns of parpety. They had machines et numbers up. They fed them numbers and they fractiont out the Power of things. They had the Nos. of the rain bow and the Power of the air all workit out with counting which is how they got boats in the air and picters on the wind. Counting clevverness is what it wer.Counting, counting they were all the time. They had iron then and big fire. They had towns of property. They had machines ate numbers up. They fed them numbers and they fractioned out the Power of things. They had the numbers of the rainbow and the Power of the air all worked out with counting, which is how they got boats in the air and pictures on the wind. Counting cleverness is what it were.
When they had all them things and marvelsome they cudnt sleap realy they dint have no res. They wer stressing ther self and straining all the time with counting. They said, "What good is nite its only dark time it aint no good for nothing only them as want to sly and sneak and take our parpety a way." They los out of memberment who nite wer. They jus wantit day time all the time and they wer going to do it with the Master Chaynjis.When they had all them things and marvelsome, they couldn't sleep, really. They didn't have no rest. They were stressing themselves and straining all the time with counting. They said, 'What good is night? It's only dark time. It ain't no good for nothing. Only them as want to sly and sneak and take our property a ay.' They lost out of memberment who night were. They just wanted daytime all the time and they were going to do it with the Master Changes.
They had the Nos. of the sun and moon all fractiont out and fed to the machines. They said, "Wewl put all the Nos. in to 1 Big 1 and that wil be the No. of the Master Chaynjis." They bilt the Power Ring thats where you see the Ring Ditch now. They put in the 1 Big 1 and woosht it roun there come a flash of lite then bigger nor the woal worl and it ternt the nite to day. Then every thing gone black. Nothing only nite for years on end. Playgs kilt peopl off and naminals nor there wernt nothing growit in the groun. Man and woman starveling in the blackness looking for the dog to eat it and the dog out looking to eat them the same. Finely there come day agen then nite and day regler but never like it ben befor. Day beartht crookit out of crookit nite and sickness in them boath.They had the numbers of the sun and moon all fractioned out and fed to the machines. They said, 'We'll put all the numbers into one Big One and that will be the number of the Master Changes.' They built the Power Ring. That's where you see the Ring Ditch now. They put in the one Big one and whooshed it round. There come a flash of light then bigger nor the whole world. And it turned the night to day. Then everything gone black. Nothing, only night for years on end. Plagues killed people off. And animals. Nor there weren't nothing grown in the ground. Man and woman starving in the blackness, looking for the dog to eat it. And the dog out looking to eat them the same. Finally, there come day again, then night and day regular. But never like it been before. Day birthed crooked out of crooked night, and sickness in them both.
Now man and woman go afeart by nite afeart by day. The dog all lorn and wishful it keaps howling for the nites whatre gone for ever. It wont show its eyes no mor it wont show the man and woman no 1st knowing. Come Ful of the Moon the sadness gets too much the dog goes mad. It follers on the man and womans track and arga warga if it catches them.Now man and woman go afeared by night, afeared by day. The dog all forlorn and wishful, it keeps howling for the nights what're gone forever. It won't show its eyes no more. It won't show the man and woman no first knowing. Come Full of the Moon, the sadness gets too much. The dog goes mad. It follows on the man and woman's track and arga warga if it catches them.
The fires col
My storys tol
The fire's cold
My story's told
I said to Lorna, "I thot it ben Eusa made the 1 Big 1."I said to Lorna, 'I thought it been Eusa made the one Big One.'
Lorna said, "I never said he dint."Lorna said, 'I never said he didn't.'
I said, "Wel you jus tol in this story it ben that man and woman done it plus they bilt the Power Ring and all."I said, 'Well, you just told in this story it been that man and woman done it. Plus they built the Power Ring and all.'
She said, "You hear diffrent things in all them way back storys but it dont make no diffrents. Mosly they aint strait storys any how. What they are is diffrent ways of telling what happent."She said, 'You hear different things in all them way back stories. But it don't make no difference. Mostly they ain't straight stories anyhow. What they are is different ways of telling what happened.'
I said, "Ben there a strait story past down amongst the tel women?"I said, 'Been there a straight story passed down amongst the tell women?'
She said, "There bint no tel women time back way back. Nor there aint never ben no strait story I ever heard. Bint no writing for 100s and 100s of years til it begun agen nor you wunt never get a strait story past down by mouf over that long. Onlyes writing I know of is the Eusa Story which that aint nothing strait but at leas its stayd the same. All them other storys tol by mouf they ben put to and took from and changit so much thru the years theyre all bits and blips and all mixt up."She said, 'There been no tell women time back way back. Nor there ain't never been no straight story I ever heard. Been no writing for hundreds and hundreds of years till it begun again. Nor you won't never get a straight story passed down by mouth over that long. Only writing I know of is the Eusa Story, which that ain't nothing straight. But at least its stayed the same. All them other stories told by mouth, they been put to and took from and changed so much through the years, they're all bits and blips and all mixed up.'
I said, "That about the 1st knowing in the story. How they got it looking in the dogs eyes. Be that blip or jus a way of saying or what?"I said, 'That about the first knowing in the story—bhow they got it looking in the dog's eyes—be that blip or just a way of saying or what?'
She said, "Why you asking?"She said, 'Why you asking?'
I said, "Wel that old dog I kilt I lookit in its eyes dint I. Nor I never got no 1st knowing out of it did I."I said, 'Well that old dog I kilt, I looked in its eyes, didn't I? Nor I never got no first knowing out of it, did I?'
She said, "May be you got it only you dont know it yet."She said, 'Maybe you got it, only you don't know it yet.'
I said, "Have you got it?"I said, 'Have you got it?'
She said, "Every bodys got it its in every 1 of us only we cant get to it til it comes to us 1 way or a nother."She said, 'Everybody's got it. It's in every one of us. Only we can't get to it till it comes to us one way or another.'
I said, "Its come to you aint it."I said, 'It's come to you ain't it?'
She said, "Yes its come to me nor there aint no use asking what it is becaws its what there aint no words for."She said, 'Yes. It's come to me. Nor there ain't no use asking what it is, because it's what there ain't no words for.'
Wel any way thats the story of why the dog wont show its eyes.Well anyway, that's the story of why the dog won't show its eyes.
Back then in this time I ben writing of I never knowit any 1 ben dog kilt only a kid it wer Follery Digman he got dog et years back. It wer Ful of the Moon and he staggelt behynt a trade crowd coming back. Some times other times of mooning it lookit to me like the dogs ben near ready to come frendy only it never happent. Nor I never heard of no 1 tame a pup. Heard of some 1 got 1 1ce I dont know how they done it. They never tamit tho. Soons it got big a nuff it dug unner the fents and gone.Back then, in this time I been writing of, I never knowed anyone been dog killed. Only a kid. It were Follery Digman. He got dog eaten years back. It were Full of the Moon and he straggled behind a trade crowd coming back. Sometimes, other times of mooning, it looked to me like the dogs been near ready to come friendly, only it never happened. Nor I never heard of no one tame a pup. Heard of someone got one once. I don't know how they done it. They never tamed, though. Soon as it got big enough, it dug under the fence and gone.
Theres dogs in the Eusa Story. Folleree & Folleroo. Theyre mor blip dogs nor real 1s tho.There's dogs in the Eusa Story. Folleree and Folleroo. They're more blip dogs, nor real ones, though.
Theres dogs in the Eusa Story. Folleree & Folleroo. Theyre mor blip dogs nor real 1s tho.There's dogs in the Eusa Story. Folleree and Folleroo. They're more blip dogs, nor real ones, though.


2 comments:

Brian Schiefen said...

I got as far as rule 4 and decided to add what I hope are corrections.
The main thing is your use of the term "non-standard English." It is not "non-standard;" it is "new standard." Imagine if we judged modern English literature according to standards in place over 2000 years ago. What I found distracting was how little the language had changed in so much time and upheaval. I believe Hoban could have written something more realistic, but chose to limit the differences so as not to lose readers.
Punctuation is most definitely not haphazard. The idea of what counts as a sentence has shifted. Picture it as invisible semicolons and parentheses. Phrases that constitute an indivisible whole (from the perspective of whoever is speaking or writing) are grouped into a single sentence.

Ƶ§œš¹ said...

Brian,
That is catchy. However, since what is and is not "standard" is linguistically arbitrary, some sort of official arbiter would be necessary to consider something "new standard." I haven't read the whole book, but I'm pretty sure it is the case that there are no such arbiters in Riddley's society. "Standard" is typically understood to be contemporary standard (and many of these features are present in contemporary non-standard dialects), so consider my calling it non-standard as an easy shorthand.

Regarding punctuation, I see your point (though there are definitely exceptions to this even on the first page) but it doesn't make Riddley's prose any more readable.