Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Yeting and yoting

Wills and inventories from many areas mention yeting vats and yoting vats, and the Essex Wills are no exception. There are at least five mentions of yoting vat

1560 (I. 280) from Harlow 
1569 (II. 238) from Great Dunmow 
1577 (IV. 10) (yauthing vat) from Great Waltham 
1581 (IV. 76) from High Laver 
1586 (XI. 244) from High Easter 


1563 (VIII. 123) yotting tub 

There are at least three mentions of yeting vat:

1559 (VIII. 15) (yetting vat) from Ugley, 1579 (IV. 204) from Toppesfield, also 1564 (I. 301), 1586 (X. 33) 

1587 (V. 259) (yeating vat) from Stebbing

The Editor of the Essex Wills has glossed several occurrences with an explanation that this was a vat for soaking barley, and there is no doubt that, despite the difference in the shape of yeting and yoting, they are the same word. 

The OED enters yoting, giving an example of the compound yowtyng faate from 1583, as a derivative under the verb yote, whose basic sense is ‘to pour’. Sense 2 is ‘to pour liquid upon; to soak’, clearly the sense of our compound: two of OED’s quotations mention ‘yoted wheat’ and brewer’s grains being ‘yoted’. The etymology states that it is a ‘local development’ (chiefly west and south-west) of Old English gēotan, explaining the latter by means of a cross-reference to the verb yet

Similarly OED has an entry for yeting which is referred back to the parent verb yet, also derived from Old English gēotan

Yote and yet are therefore dialectal doublets. The process which produced them must be the same that gave rise to such doublets as Chaucer’s forms to chese and to shete, beside modern English to choose and to shoot, and closely parallel to that which produced the doublets yelk and yolk. In more technical terms, the Old English diphthong ēo normally developed in Middle English into a long ē /e:/ which became modern English long e /i:/ or, if shortened, ĕ /ɛ/; but after a palatal consonant such as y /j/ or ch /tʃ/ the stress could shift to the second element and the first element then disappeared, giving Middle English long ō /o:/ and modern English oo /u:/ or Middle English long ǭ /ɔ:/, modern English /əʊ/, or if shortened ŏ /ɔ/.

OED, though it recognizes the ‘soak’ sense of yote and yoting and gives a single mention to yoting vat, makes no mention of the equivalent uses of yet and yeting at all; apart from the basic senses ‘pour, flow, gush’, etc., mostly with regard to water, the only extended senses have to do with molten metal. The Essex Wills together with several other collections of wills and inventories provide an important corrective to OED’s picture of the word. 

Moreover the Essex Wills show that yote was not chiefly a western and south-western variant. Both forms existed in 16th-century Essex within a few miles of each other. Our yet forms occur in a triangle to the north and north-east of the rough quadrilateral formed by our yote forms. This might be evidence of some kind of regional dialect boundary. 

There seems to be no evidence available from the chiefly literary texts on EEBO. Mainly south-western documentation is shown by the English Dialect Dictionary, which has yote v. from Glos. (also yeot), Wilts. (also yaught, yaut, yawt), Somerset (also yoat, yeot), and ‘West Country’; [jo:t, jɔ:t]. Sense 1 is ‘to pour; to water’; the example given is ‘the brewer’s grains must be well yoted for the pigs’ (Grose, 1790).

By contrast, non-literary documents, mainly wills and inventories, published in the last century or so, show multitudinous examples of yeting and (more commonly) yoting, from Berkshire, Cornwall, Devon, Hampshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, Sussex, Somerset, and Wiltshire, as the following (which have not been directly consulted and therefore mostly lack exact documentary dates) demonstrate:

1587 in D. M. Herridge Surrey Probate Inventories, 1558–1603 (Surrey Record Society, Vo. 39) (2005) 237 The grynstone and all that bee long to it A yettynge trofe All the brasc. (also p. 438 yotinge fatte)
M. A. Havinden Household & Farm Inventories in Oxfordshire, 1550–1590 (1965) 50 A molding Bord and A poudering trowghe 1 0 0 A yotyng vate & three olde vates 4 0.
Sussex Notes & Queries (1944) Vol. 9 130 i ladefate, 2 stollages, i yotyng fate, i ost here, feble, for the ost there, i yelefate, i new ladder to the ost, i furneys. 
Surrey Record Society (2005) Vol. 39 298 one busshell, 8 tubbs, syxe kevers, one yotynge fate 13 4 
Berkshire probate accounts, 1583-1712 (1999) 33 one boltinge huche, three firkines, a yotinge fatte, one bushill. 
Devon & Cornwall Record Society (1997) Vol. 40 p. 40 Itm two yotinge vats & one olde hogshead. 
Hampshire Studies: Proceedings of the Hampshire Field Club and Archaeological Society (1996) Vol. 51 128 The malt howse a hogeshed, ii barelles, iii virkyns & a tubbe & a ester heare, iii wayshe vates 3. 4 ii shep skynes 8 iiii grat yotinge vates & ii litle yotinge vates.
1602 in Collectanea Archæologica (1871) 2 111One yotinge vate and frame . . xxs 
Devon & Cornwall Notes & Queries (1903) Vol. 2 135 A yotinge ffate. A chese wrynge.
Publications of the Bedfordshire Historical Record Society (1937) Vols. 19-20 71 In the mault house — two kyll haires, 12s; a yottinge fat, a boultinge hutche. 
L. Williams & S. Thomson Marlborough probate inventories, 1591-1775 (2007) 52
On yotting vate, on wishtub, on chespres, on renseve, on spad, on ruder 6s. 
Medieval Wills from Wells (Publications of the Somerset Record Society) (1925) 40 239 a great  ‘broche’, a ‘yowting’ tub, a kneeding ‘cowle’. 
F. G. Standfield Hist. East Meon (1984) 30 It. one yowtynge vate a keve a kever a cowle. 

Evidently yoting vats or tubs were everyday household items throughout southern England, and possibly further afield, in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The fact that literary sources are silent about them just shows how much of the ordinary English language remained off the radar of ‘standard’ English.

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