Dialects of English: how to understand the interlocutor, without breaking his brain

    Linguists love to say that any language is a living organism that is constantly changing and improving.

    The development of a language is influenced by everything: historical events, a mixture of cultures, neighboring languages, and even the political principles of a country's development.

    And how much surprised tourists who come to the UK. After all, only 3% of the total population speak English that we teach in schools and hear on English television channels like the BBC.

    The remaining 97% speak with all possible accents on those dialects that we often heard only in passing.

    But is it so unexpected? After all, Russia is also full of dialects, which are sometimes very different from the literary language. They differ in the pronunciation of words, the structure of sentences and even vocabulary.

    Take only St. Petersburg "sidewalk" - if you do not know that this is a "curb", then you will not guess. And according to the Moscow “Akania” one can always identify a resident of the capital, even if he came to visit other city.

    True English is a real rarity.

    The officially accepted norm of the language in Britain is Received Pronunciation, or, as we call it, “royal English”.

    An example of Received Pronunciation is the speech of Margaret Thatcher, the British Prime Minister. She is one of the most prominent representatives of "royal English".

    Main linguistic features of Received Pronunciation:

    • The sound [r] at the end of the word is not pronounced. “Thunder” sounds like [θʌndə] with a long “e” at the end.
    • The words can't, dance and similar words are pronounced with a long [a:].
    • In general, everything is as taught by dictionaries, textbooks and announcers on the BBC.

    Received Pronunciation is a benchmark. But you yourself know that nobody speaks a literary language in the natural environment. Only in the UK there are about 20 recognized dialects and many times more subtle variations of the language. And if you count together with the variations that appeared in the world during the spread of the British Empire, the number reaches 200.

    Diversity in action

    Britain was not always a united country. On these small islands, several dozen nationalities gathered, each of which had its own language. As the British conquered the territory, English became more common, but local languages ​​greatly influenced him, changing his vocabulary, grammar and sound.

    The Scottish, Welsh and Irish influenced English the most.

    Scottish dialect

    Scottish dialect - the most common in the British Isles. Linguistic scholars say that Scottish English is a little more than a dialect, but less than a full-fledged language.

    It is noteworthy that the Scottish language is well known only by about 20% of the inhabitants of Scotland. The rest speak English with Scottish flavor.

    A little about the features that distinguish Scottish dialect from literary English:

    • The Scots have a plural for the pronoun you - yous . That is, you are you , and you are yous .
    • Instead of the present simple, the Scots often use the present continuous . The simple sentence “I want sleep” turns into “I'm wanting sleep” .
    • There are changes in the lexical structures. Instead of “Why” in Scottish, they use “How” , and the phrase “Why not” turns into “How no” .
    • In some cases, a reduction amn't , which in literary English is not used. Am I not invited turns into Am I invited .

    Also in the Scottish dialect there are a huge number of phrases and word forms that come from the Scottish language and are now widely used. Here are some of them: The

    pronunciation in Scottish English is also very interesting.

    • The Scots do not use sound at all [ǝ]. They pronounce the word “the” as [ði:] with a long “i” at the end.
    • The sound [r] at the end of words is always pronounced. The word “bar” will be pronounced [bar], not [ba:].
    • The sound [h] in pronunciation is much closer to German. It is hard and sharp - very different from soft English [h] with aspiration.
    • The sound [t], located in the middle of a word, is often lost.
    • The sounds of endings often change. For example, in the word happy at the end there will be a sound [ei], as in the word face.

    There are so many such features that today there are about 50 monographs in which certain aspects of the Scottish dialect are explored.

    Let's do a little test. If you understand anything of what the Scot says in the following video, you can live without problems not only in Edinburgh, but also in any settlement in Scotland:

    All words that a man uses are purely English. So go ahead!

    Welsh English

    Nearly 2.5 million people speak Welsh English. And if you get to Cardiff, the center of Wales, only with knowledge of literary English, then you risk to understand a little more than nothing.

    Welch has greatly influenced English in this region, and English has acquired many Welsh features. For example:

    • In Welsh, it is permissible in a sentence to make double and even triple negation. A British linguist would have been hit by the phrase “I haven't done nothin 'to nobody,” but for Welsh this is completely normal.
    • Some irregular verbs are used with -ed endings. For example, catched instead of caught .
    • In phrases, vowels are often replaced and additional main particles appear. The sentence “I love cocoa” is transformed into “Dw i'n love-io cocoa”. Because of this feature, Welsh English is very hard to perceive by ear.
    • Tail questions are extremely often used in Welsh English. “You're his cousin, aren't you?” - while the tail question is often replaced with the simple “yes?”.

    A large number of vocabulary is borrowed from the Welsh language and may be incomprehensible. Here are some examples:

    Some words are completely unique and do not translate directly. For example, “hwyl” is a combination of excitement, energy and enthusiasm. Often this word is used to describe actions in sports or when starting a new business.

    The pronunciation of words is more consistent with literary English, but the intonation often does not match. So do not be surprised if you hear in one sentence about ten different intonation accents.

    Irish English

    In a seemingly small Ireland, there are several dozen different dialects of English. In almost every region, the language is different - not too much, but noticeable. For convenience, all these dialects are called by one name - Irish English.

    • Irish people often use double designs that are designed to emotionally color a sentence. The phrase “I haven't any time at all at all” can be translated roughly as “I don’t have time right at all — quite.”
    • Instead of fixed expressions Received Pronunciation sound their own Irish idioms. "It's well for some" in literary English would sound like "Some people are lucky . "
    • Very rarely do you hear from the Irish “yes” or “no” in response to a question. They often repeat the grammatical construction of the question. For example, “Do you hear me? - I do .

    Features of pronunciation are also very interesting:

    • The sound [r] is always pronounced, and at the end of words as well.
    • The sound [ð] in the words this or that often turns into [t] or even [d].
    • The sound [tj] becomes [tʃ] - the word tune will need to be read as choon.
    • The endings of words are often swallowed.

    But still remember that the nuances of the pronunciation of words and the use of vocabulary is very different even in different cities of Ireland. For example, in Dublin, Cork and Limerick about a quarter of the phrases and phrases will be built and used differently.

    A humorous video about how Irish English actually sounds. It is very informative.

    And what about outside the UK?

    We have dismantled only the dialects spoken in the UK itself. But there are still former colonies of the British Empire - and there everything is much more neglected.

    American English, which is now spoken in the United States, 100 years ago was considered a dialect. Now this is a full version of the language, along with British English.

    Canadian English, in turn, is a cross between British and American. And you can write a dozen books about Eastern and African dialects of English - languages ​​have changed so much under the influence of culture and national languages.

    And now let's dig even deeper, because besides the dialects there are various language accents, which are even more. After all, even one dialect may sound very different.

    So it turns out that even with perfect knowledge of English, you will not always understand the interlocutor. But this is one of the reasons why English is so interesting to learn, because there is always something that you don’t know, but really want to learn. Learn English!

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