3

In part first, II, I see this line:

"And who's he?" asked one, comparatively a stranger, when the boy entered.
"Well, ye med ask it, Mrs. Williams. He's my great-nephew—come since you was last this way."

What does 'med ask it' mean? I tried Googling med ask it, but all I found was free consulting with a doctor.

7

Searching a Project Gutenberg etext of Jude the Obscure, I found a dozen other instances of "med", such as these:

"Now don't you interrupt, my boy. Never interrupt your senyers. Move the fore hoss aside, Bobby; here's som'at coming… You must mind that I be a-talking of the college life. 'Em lives on a lofty level; there's no gainsaying it, though I myself med not think much of 'em. As we be here in our bodies on this high ground, so be they in their minds—noble-minded men enough, no doubt—some on 'em—able to earn hundreds by thinking out loud. And some on 'em be strong young fellows that can earn a'most as much in silver cups. As for music, there's beautiful music everywhere in Christminster. You med be religious, or you med not, but you can't help striking in your homely note with the rest. And there's a street in the place—the main street—that ha'n't another like it in the world. I should think I did know a little about Christminster!"

It seems clear that "med" represents a dialectal pronunciation of "might".

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4

Specifically ‘med’ represents (West) Berkshire dialect. Desmond Hawkins (1989), Hardy at Home: The People and Place of His Wessex:

As [Hardy’s] practice developed he tended to simplify and standardize the conventions he needed to convey the forms of rustic speech. To suggest the distinctive sound of a Devonshire voice he concentrated on a single feature, the richly fluted ‘u’ vowel, which he rendered as ‘tew’ for ‘to’, ‘dew’ for ‘do’ etc., in ‘The Romantic Adventures of a Milkmaid’. In Jude the Obscure he took the word ‘might’ in its Wessex forms of ‘mid’ and ‘med’ as the single definitive indicator of Berkshire speech: “Well ye med ask it,” says Jude’s great-aunt Drusilla.

In Jude the Obscure Drusilla Fawley lives in the fictional Marygreen in Wessex, which represents the real Fawley in Berkshire, birthplace of Hardy’s grandmother, Mary Head.

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