The Sussex Dialect. 3
district in which they are used. But besides these, there are many words which, as far as I can ascertain, are common to the whole county, and to these no distinctive letter is annexed.
I should (roughly) define the East Sussex district as the part of the county lying east of a line drawn northward from Hastings; the West Sussex district would be bounded by a line running northward from Shoreham; and the Mid Sussex district would, of course, be found between the two. I must request the reader to bear in mind these geographical distinctions, because few persons except word-collectors are acquainted with provincial expressions beyond their own district; and without this explanation it might be supposed that many words which occur in my list are not Sussex words at all.
The sources from which our Sussex words are derived will naturally have a special interest for many of my readers. All who collect or study strange words are anxious to know where they come from; and I confess that I was much surprised when I found that one of the first pieces of advice which was circulated among the members of the English Dialect Society was to abstain from etymology. It seemed to me that to encourage people to collect words, and at the same time to forbid them to attempt to give their derivations, was very like presenting a boy with a pair of skates and then desiring him on no account to go upon the ice. I little knew how treacherous was the element from which this humane society warns us off, till I was myself involved in its dangers, and only just rescued by the untiring efforts of the secretary, Mr. Skeat, from the consequences of rashness which might have been fatal to the success of my work.
Etymology is for many reasons surrounded with dangers and difficulties, not only on account of the prevalence and perpetuation of erroneous derivations already existing, on the authority of persons who knew nothing whatever of the subject, but also because there are so few works published on the subject which are reliable.