Musing on the English Language

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by I-S, Jan 26, 2005.

  1. I-S

    I-S Good Evening.... Infidel

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    Isn't language a funny thing...

    I think my accent could be described as "BBC English", and as such I've never come across an english-speaking person who has trouble understanding what I say, other than I speak too quietly much of the time.

    However, I certainly have had occasions where I have struggled to understand what someone else, speaking english, has been saying.

    Two examples of this:

    1) The lady in the chip shop close to my new house. I think she was speaking english, but I couldn't swear to it. Welcome to Yorkshire.

    2) A guy in a diner in remote nowhere in northern california. Again, he was speaking english (I'm told), but I didn't have a clue what he was trying to say...

    How can this be? Same language and yet understanding is only passing in one direction. And it's not people whos second language is english (I have less problem with Sri Lankan, Indian, Chinese, etc who are speaking it as a second language)...
     
    I-S, Jan 26, 2005
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  2. I-S

    penance Arrogant Cock

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    Yer, 'ow bist thee 'en?
     
    penance, Jan 26, 2005
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  3. I-S

    michaelab desafinado

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    Happens all the time - and it's not just English. My favourite example is of a Brazilian friend of mine who was on a train going to London eavesdropping on a couple speaking a foreign (ie not English) language. Speaking several languages he prides himself (as do I) on his ability to recognize what language people are speaking but he just couldn't figure it out. He thought it sounded familiar but wasn't able to place it. Only when they stopped talking and the man picked up his Portuguese newspaper did he realise they'd been speaking Portuguese (from Portugal rather than Brazil) all the time :)

    The people of the Azores speak Portuguese with such a strong accent most continental Portugese have a pretty hard time understanding it. A soap opera that took place there had to be screened here with subtitles :eek: .

    Regional accents can alter pronunciation very considerably to it can take a while to get tuned into them, never mind the different regional vocabulary and grammar.

    Michael.
     
    michaelab, Jan 26, 2005
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  4. I-S

    Will The Lucky One

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    Language is indeed a funny thing! I get to hear a nice variety here, the foreign students plus a large number of first language Welsh speakers as well as the English.

    My flatmate Rhys and his girlfriend always speak Welsh to each other, and I always find myself slightly amused by the way English words get dropped into sentences, when the Welsh version is much more complicated. Its like that old fast show sketch at times, only with Welsh instead of Spanish. They say things like 'Pwlll gyn gogily llant cad ker bore da ****ing saucepan lid pwll ldgdy y gargh in the cupboard'. Sort of a hybrid language really!

    Really strong accents can get me as well, I've met a few Welsh people here who I have real trouble understanding, though in fairness English is not their first language. I've come to really dislike my own accent though....black country is bloody awful really :(. In my opinion the best accent is a very slight Wiltshire one though I am a bit biased at the moment...
     
    Will, Jan 26, 2005
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  5. I-S

    lAmBoY Lothario and Libertine

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    Sorry Will - A Yorkshire twang is the finest in my book.

    Tha bloody likes what ah knuo, I find mesen sayin.
     
    lAmBoY, Jan 26, 2005
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  6. I-S

    Heavymental

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    The hardest bit is when its short phrases where you don't have a chance to get the gist of what they're saying and you end up asking them to repeat it a couple of times before giving up and just saying 'yes' and hoping for the best.

    I'm learning Welsh at the moment...nice language to speak once you get the hang of the basic sounds.
     
    Heavymental, Jan 26, 2005
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  7. I-S

    mr cat Member of the month

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    I knew this spainsh woman and she could hardly understand my accent...she would just nod her head and smile - I initially thought yeah, great - until I asked her an open question and she continued to smile and nod her head....
     
    mr cat, Jan 26, 2005
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  8. I-S

    SCIDB Moderator

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    Hi Isaac,

    Welcome to Yorkshire. There are many dialects in the UK, which have been years in the making. This has meant that various regions have their own language or variation of speech. Being in Yorkshire, certain words and phrases are used countywide but others are unique to small areas.

    Here are few we use in Sheffield. Some of these will be used in your neck of the woods.

    Nesh - soft
    spice - sweets, confectionary
    Mardy - Sulking, miserable
    Oreight - Hello
    Be reight - It will be OK
    Mashin - Making a cup of tea
    Neow - No
    Goodun - Good one
    E'ad - Head
    Snap - Food

    While - used instead of until. e.g. 'Wait at the lights while they change to green'

    On tha tod
    (alone)

    Am gooin daan' chipoil, yerwanowt?
    (I'm going to the fish and chip shop. Would you like anything?)


    Here are a few sites on the Yorkshire dialect.

    http://www.yorksj.ac.uk/dialect/

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/northyorkshire/voices2005/glossary/glossary.shtml

    http://www.collectbritain.co.uk/search/advanced.cfm?collection=Local Dialects&step=val_form

    SCIDB
     
    SCIDB, Jan 26, 2005
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  9. I-S

    lAmBoY Lothario and Libertine

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    Yorkshire Born

    Yorkshire Bred

    Strong in the Arm

    And thick in the Head:)
     
    lAmBoY, Jan 26, 2005
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  10. I-S

    Matt F

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    Nothin' wrong with regional accents - I just don't think National BBC broadcasters should be allowed to have them.

    Now where's me gurt big bottla cyder gone.

    Matt.
     
    Matt F, Jan 27, 2005
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  11. I-S

    michaelab desafinado

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    Why the hell not? What about National BBC broadcasters with Australian, American or Pakistani accents - should those not be allowed either?

    As long as someone speaks in a way that is intelligible to most people what difference does it make what accent they have?

    Michael.
     
    michaelab, Jan 27, 2005
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  12. I-S

    Sir Galahad Harmonia Mundi

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    There was a debate on this very subject in a prominent French TV magazine only last week.

    One female reader wrote (approximate translation) :

    "I am not surprised to see newscasters of another color than mine. I would not be surprised to see newscasters with a strong regional accent. What would surprise me, though, would be to see a newscaster as old, as fat and as plain as I am. And yet, there are millions of us out there. This is definitely the worst, the most shameful, the most final type of discrimination you can think of"
     
    Sir Galahad, Jan 27, 2005
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  13. I-S

    Bob McC living the life of Riley

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    Yorkshire people are renowned for speaking their minds. That's why their sentences are short.

    Bob
     
    Bob McC, Jan 27, 2005
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  14. I-S

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    There's other things yorkshiremen are renowned for too!
    There's only one good thing that comes out of Yorkshire and that's the road into Lancashire.
    Sorry two, musn't forget Matthew Hoggard
     
    lordsummit, Jan 27, 2005
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  15. I-S

    I-S Good Evening.... Infidel

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    Careful, I will soon officially live in Yorkshire....

    Get me keys tomorrow. :D

    [​IMG]
     
    I-S, Jan 27, 2005
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  16. I-S

    Matt F

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    My comments were a little tongue in cheek you know. It's just my newscasters that I don't want to sound like Tim Spaul, Jimmy Nail or Ian Paisley thanks but then I grew up with Richard Baker reading the News....

    I must say I'd be all for elecution lessons in schools or is enunciation not politically correct these days?

    Matt.
     
    Matt F, Jan 27, 2005
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  17. I-S

    angi73

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    angi73, Jan 27, 2005
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  18. I-S

    Lord .

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    Don' nunna u no ow ta spik proper bleedin inglish?
    'Kin' bunch ov inbred 'kin' cahntree 'kin' bum 'kin' kins.
    Moov dahn sarf an lern ta spik prahpah yer hignorant likkle eejuts.

    ;)
     
    Lord, Jan 27, 2005
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  19. I-S

    SteveC PrimaLuna is not cheese

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    But everyone has an accent, Matt. There's no way some kind of home counties mix is neutral. There is no such thing as accentless English. Having lived away from England for a decade or so, accents of this BBC kind can sound quite strong (and sometimes repugnant) to me (in the sense of strange vowel-changes). So long as a dialect is not so obscure that few can recognise the words, there is no problem.
     
    SteveC, Jan 28, 2005
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  20. I-S

    lordsummit moderate mod

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    Now that's a sweeping statement Matt. So are you suggesting that soon the government should roll out a national speaking project, brave new world could be nearer than I thought
     
    lordsummit, Jan 28, 2005
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