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Thread: English! Who talks funny?

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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default English! Who talks funny?

    This topic originally came up in another thread but it is one very interesting to at least some of us, so I decided to continue it here.

    Which version of English is the older? American English or British English.

    On the surface it would surely be that of the Mother Land, but is that really so?

    Linguists tell us otherwise. They say that the American English is nearer to the way English was spoken at the time of the American Revolution than that still spoken in the UK.

    But hay! Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. What do you think?

    English is a language spoken or understood by at the very least 500 million people, and some of the variances are astounding.


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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    QUOTE=Fisherking;2126649]Nice thread therifleman, welcome aboard!


    Just a tiny bit off topic here but didn’t anyone else notice that the Americans had a pronounced English Accent?

    The fact that neither one of them used that accent at the time might also be mentioned.

    [/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by Bopa the Magyar View Post


    Well, since we have no idea what either nation sounded like at the time, it is probabaly best to go with well known one, still I would be interested to know if you had any suggestions?
    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    We do have an idea what they sounded like. An upper class accent from Charleston, SC or Savanna, GA are good examples of the educated, working class Dublin for others, (non French) Canadian may be more toward a universal English sound nearer to then, but not the best idea for the game.

    But different from one another might be desirable…at least for the game.

    Of course this may be an early on press demo so it could have changed…I hope!

    To those born west of the pond, it is a bit like having General Wellington have the same speech patterns as Crocodile Dundee would be to you.
    Quote Originally Posted by KozaK13 View Post
    Plus at the time of the mod the colonists probably did sound much more like the english than americans.
    no, it would have been the other way round, The English sounded more like Americans than they do today…[/QUOTE]

    Quote Originally Posted by KozaK13 View Post
    How so?
    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    To make it a story; some time ( I think in the 1820s but it may have been later) the English upper class began to speak in what they thought was a more elegant fashion. They modified the vowel sounds and lengthened them and began to clip some words. This in turn trickled down into the lower levels of society. (the first time in history that it went form the top down) The shift in pronunciation resulted in what we today think of as the British Accent.

    Americans and to a lesser extent Canadians did not go through this shift, retaining the older form of the language. Spelling was also not firmly fixed resulting in different ways of spelling the same words.
    So as much as the British love to make fun of their cousins across the sea, they speak a much more recent variety of the language.

    If you want further information one book is , I believe, “The Story of English”. There are many others, and like this one written primarily by British Authors.

    I hope I have answered the question.
    Quote Originally Posted by KozaK13 View Post
    Wow i didn't know that, thanks for the info, you have opened my eyes to something i never considered, but what about the current american accent (generic one that is) is it close to what would be the old english one?
    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    The most Archaic accents are those from the rural southern US. (other than the real Dublin Accent that is, ) Many of the word pronunciations , word use, and phraseology my be Elizabethan. So the back woods frontier accents are the oldest. The Dublin Accent is thought to be the oldest form still spoken, but it may have more word meanings and phrases at its root than the pronunciation.
    The Generic American Accent goes back to the brake with England and you can see the similarities with Canadian English. Also Americans had fixed their spelling of words prior to the Revelation.
    Quote Originally Posted by Bopa the Magyar View Post


    I am afraid that sounds a bit off to me, you see, wherever you go throughout the old Empire, people of British descent sound different. Now, you cannot tell me that the English aristocracy decided to change the way it spoke everytime there was a large influx of Brits to the colonies?

    Now, there was study, a very good one, done recently about the European NZ accent, it has now been proved that it is slowly changing and moving away from what it originally was. This would indicate that in fact, all those departed from their ancestral homeland, have also gone through the same process.

    If you here a recording of a kiwi from the end of the 19th cen. they sound like either Scots, English or Irish. They clearly no longer do, thus I would, by simple application of logic, have to refuse to accept such a hypothesis, to boot that book is now over twenty years old and its research is probably a bit long in the tooth.

    There are also, so many ancient regional accents in Britain that it is impossible to state that the English accent has lossed its historical roots through an aristocratice revolution of pronounciation, it simply cannot be true that the farmers I met in Cornwall are the end effect of such a thing. I can hardly understand them, same goes for the boys up north. These accents and dialects are ancient and reach well beyond the founding of the U.S.A.


    This should bring us up to where we were before!


    I am not going to pretend to have all the answers to this question.

    I have read that there are more than 30 distinct dialects in England and Wales, and the Author said he thought it was a vast under estimate.

    I could agree with him. Here where I live now every single village has a different version of their dialect. (even though it is not English) I see no reason to doubt that to some extent that is true in the UK as well.

    As close as I can estimate the sounds of the English spoken in the late 1700s is that it would sound much like what you would call an American “Red Neck” or Hill Billy English.
    Last edited by Fisherking; 02-05-2009 at 09:07. Reason: answer to question.


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    Poll Smoker Senior Member CountArach's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    They say that the American English is nearer to the way English was spoken at the time of the American Revolution than that still spoken in the UK.
    And American English derived from...?

    That's right! English!
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by CountArach View Post
    And American English derived from...?

    That's right! English!
    And English derived from German…

    So?

    English is to Brittan as English is to America…an ancestral Language.

    England is a small part of the UK

    Everything changes. Just because England is the origin of English doesn’t dictate ownership.



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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    You may find this blog of interest - I came across it last week and have been reading through the past entries ever since. It's by an American linguist working at an English university (and married to one of us too) who has also worked in South Africa.

    http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.blogspot.com/

    A number of the articles talk about the historical differences in accent and usage either side of the Atlantic and which modern usages are rooted in British usage of centuries past. Some of the comments are by professional linguists and go over my head, but most are intelligible to lay people. She does on occasion post articles to answer questions sent in by email (but not quickly - the most recent posting begins "How to choose among the dozens and dozens of unfulfilled requests? I just clicked blindly in my inbox and found American ex-pat Liz being driven crazy/mad (in 2007!)")

    Whilst (and writing that reminds me of her post here http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.bl...06/whilst.html) it is good to remember English shouldn't be used as a synonym for British, describing England as a small part of the UK is an exaggeration. Wikipedia gives 2006 population figures showing England as having 83.8% of the total UK population
    Non me rogare, loquare non lingua latinus

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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Flavius Clemens View Post
    Whilst (and writing that reminds me of her post here http://separatedbyacommonlanguage.bl...06/whilst.html) it is good to remember English shouldn't be used as a synonym for British, describing England as a small part of the UK is an exaggeration. Wikipedia gives 2006 population figures showing England as having 83.8% of the total UK population
    Thank you Flavius Clemens for the links!

    Sorry to trim your post a bit but I wanted to apologize if I offended anyone with the comment.

    That was mostly directed to our Australian college.


    It was meant Geographically and it seems to get smaller all the time. Wales doesn’t wish to be included and Cornwall seems to have its own separatist movement…

    At any rate a Yorkshire man and a Devonshire man do speak the same language, but in much different ways…Deciding which of them is more English would insult one of both, wouldn’t you say?

    The Scotts once claimed there version as Scottish and forbade the speaking of the Irish-Language (Gaelic) in public places.



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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    I may talk the same language as a Devonian but the dialect and accent (emphesis) is vastly different.

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    Member Member Flavius Clemens's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    The simple answer is of course I don't have an accent and I speak properly (or should that be 'talk proper' or 'prop'ly' or...)

    Although mass media and mobility have evened out some differences it's still true that travelling 30 miles in Britain you can find yourself hearing a distinctly, if subtly, different accent.

    And no offence taken FisherKing!
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    It is quite impossible to compare which standard of pronunciation (General American or RP/Estuary English) is more similar to Early Modern English. This is due to two factors; firstly, we have no proper evidence of how words were pronounced in the 17th century, so we can only speculate and secondly, Early Modern English was atleast as linguistically varied as the English spoken around the world today.

    The problem with the whole question is that there was no original Early Modern English standard, especially in speech, just as there is no real standard in speech these days. Even written standardisation started first with William Caxton's decision to print books in the Midlands variety of Early Modern English, thus making it the most influential variety of written English. If are dead-set on making your comparison, then comparison of written language is the only perfectly possible method due to the existence of source material and something of a standard from the 16th century onward.
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Some dialect.

    Weez gaffer? = Can you direct me to the propieter of this establishment.

    Ah teld him bur he wooden listen = I informed him of the situation but he payed no heed.

    Stop lairkin = Please stop the horseplay.

    Yur mard and mitherin bugger = You need to toughen up a bit and stop complaining old chap.

    Nowt but yitten and nesh = You fail to reach the high expectations expected of you and what's more you are behaving like a little girl.

    I'll think of some more.
    There are times I wish they’d just ban everything- baccy and beer, burgers and bangers, and all the rest- once and for all. Instead, they creep forward one apparently tiny step at a time. It’s like being executed with a bacon slicer.

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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    The linguists of today do believe they can deduce what English sounded like at different periods.

    Without getting into all of the particulars of a complex subject they have deduced, baring regional variances that the language would have sounded, at least to my ear from the descriptions I have read, much like that portrayed in the Beverly Hillbillies. Words like join and poison would have sounded to us like jine and pison.

    One of the descriptions I read, attributed to Robert Burchfield, also stated that George Washington would have sounded much like Lord North, but Lord North would have sounded much more American in his speech. North would have pronounced path and bath in the American way. He would have given necessary its full value. He would have given r’s their full value in words like cart and horse. And he would have used many words that later fell out of use in England but were preserved in the New World.

    In early 1791, Dr. David Ramsay, one of the first American Historians, noted in his book The History of the American Revelation that Americans had a particular purity of speech, which he attributed to the fact that people from all over Britain were thrown together in America where they dropped the peculiarities of their several provincial idioms, retaining only what was fundamental and common to them all.

    Odd words were what early America was noted for not odd ways of speaking the language. But then again some of those odd words were words simply gone old fashioned in England.
    Last edited by Fisherking; 02-05-2009 at 16:43.


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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Indiana. They speak on an even keel.
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    In early 1791, Dr. David Ramsay, one of the first American Historians, noted in his book The History of the American Revelation that Americans had a particular purity of speech, which he attributed to the fact that people from all over Britain were thrown together in America where they dropped the peculiarities of their several provincial idioms, retaining only what was fundamental and common to them all.

    Odd words were what early America was noted for not odd ways of speaking the language. But then again some of those odd words were words simply gone old fashioned in England.

    What Ramsay is describing is a rather common linguistic phenomenom called dialect levelling. When a group of people with different dialects settle in the same area, it is common that the dialects start converging towards a new standard. It's also what initially took place in America, but as the US continued growing in both size, population and minorities dialectal diversity increased as well.

    As to the deduction of speech; yes you might be able to deduce pronunciation from written sources, but this still ignores the fact that English of the 17th and 18th century had considerable regional variation. That said I could accept the claim that the variety of English, that arose in the American colonies, could be relatively close to the speech of those Beverly Hillbillies. After all isolated areas, like some areas in the Appalachians, tend to experience considerably slower linguistic change than commercial, cultural and transportational centers.
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by AggonyDuck View Post
    What Ramsay is describing is a rather common linguistic phenomenom called dialect levelling. When a group of people with different dialects settle in the same area, it is common that the dialects start converging towards a new standard. It's also what initially took place in America, but as the US continued growing in both size, population and minorities dialectal diversity increased as well.

    As to the deduction of speech; yes you might be able to deduce pronunciation from written sources, but this still ignores the fact that English of the 17th and 18th century had considerable regional variation. That said I could accept the claim that the variety of English, that arose in the American colonies, could be relatively close to the speech of those Beverly Hillbillies. After all isolated areas, like some areas in the Appalachians, tend to experience considerably slower linguistic change than commercial, cultural and transportational centers.
    Every source I can find, not nearly or most but every, states that North American English retains the older forms of the language.

    As you have stated, isolated groups tend to preserve their speech forms more than those in dynamic trade centers. Estuary English certainly fits that dynamic profile.

    All of North America received less than 20,000 immigrants per year until the mid 1800s. They came from two places, England and Africa, likely the larger part from Africa. (African American is a non-retroflex speech)

    Most North American speech is rhotic, as English was in most places in the 17th century. Rhoticity was further supported by Hiberno-English and Scottish English as well as the fact most regions of England at this time also had rhotic accents. In most varieties of North American English, the sound corresponding to the letter r is a retroflex [?] or alveolar approximant [?] rather than a trill or a tap.

    Many of the differences between American and Southern British are because of innovations in Southern British. The sound r was lost (except before vowels) somewhere just under 200 years ago in London. This change spread out and is now established all across England except the south-west and East Anglia, and is also true of the Southern Hemisphere countries colonized in the last 200 years. So American resembles Irish in being a rhotic accent (one having r everywhere) because they are both survivors of the original situation that 300 years ago prevailed everywhere in England.

    Again, the American can't with the same vowel as can reflects the original English, and it's England that's innovated to the ah vowel. This can be approximately dated by noting that Australia etc also say kahnt; but similar changes in dance, plant happened in England after the settlement of Australia, where they have not been taken up: the can vowel in common between American and Australian dance is also what was said in London 200 years or so ago.

    Considerable detail can be found in The Cambridge History of the English Language Volume 6: English in North America, a book I haven't seen, but there's a good thorough review of it at
    http://cf.linguistlist.org/cfdocs/ne...cfm?SubID=4807

    The same can be seen when you compare Brazil and Portugal…it was Portugal that changed.


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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    My regional English accent is derived from Viking settlers, so it's probably a bit older than the US of A.

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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dodge_272 View Post
    My regional English accent is derived from Viking settlers, so it's probably a bit older than the US of A.
    Humm, could be.

    You want to test it?

    Do you pronounce settlers as:

    a. set’lahs

    b.set-tel-ers

    c. some other way

    If you are dropping your R’s then the accent may have modified.

    However, I doubt your Viking ancestors would understand the language as it is spoken today.


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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    With Australia, like NZ, the accent has been moving further and further away from the original as can be witnessed by recording from the 19th to early 20th centuries, the pronounciation of dance instead of dah'nce is a recent development as can be evidenced by my great aunt's way of talking. Also, there is a slight inflection on the American pronounciation of dance which does not exist in the Australian form, which would lead me to believe that the two are unconnected in terms of the development of pronounciation. As I said in NZ people used to sound much the same way as they did back in the Homeland, my great-Grandfather spoke in a very strong Scots accent as did most of the people from the South Island. It is interesting to note that, in Invercargil, an area of hight Scots immigration they now pronounce many words with an accent almost indistinguishable from an American one.

    Also, you said that the British aristocracy changed the way it pronounced words in the early 19th cen. whereas the majority of British immigartion to Oz occured much later and I find it hard to beleive that the majority of new settlers changed their dialect for the sake of fitting in with the old colonial minority.

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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    I have heard it said that the New Zealand accent is more British than the British. I assume they are talking about the North Island, but I have so little experience with it I couldn’t say.

    Accents today are leveling to a vast degree because of mass media. What they were before the advent of TV and Radio is nothing like what they were before. We tend to talk like those around us or those we hear. It can be conscious or unconscious but the phenomenon exists. Also we live in a highly mobile society, which also has its effect.

    The way my grand parents spoke was different than my parents and I in turn sound little like they did. My children have a different way of speaking still.

    In another language all to gather, German, I have noticed another phenomenon which would also fit in to the way things change. There is a train voice announcement for a station. The locals have called the town Easting, with a strong emphasis on the E as in English. The Announcer from some where in North Germany calls the town eS’ting. Now those from other places along with a good deal of the locals have adopted that pronunciation for a town that is so old it could make you cry.

    It may seem like an insignificant change to most people who no nothing of German place names. But when most places would have names in English of say Upper or Lower pig stream, the Nut Tree Grove, or the Roman’s Farms, then you realize this place had a Celtic original name that makes no sense to a north German you begin to see what is lost.

    I have known linguist that could do an amazing job of guessing your parentage and ancestry just by holding a conversation with you. All the more amazing in America where everyone’s ancestors came from so diverse nations in the distant past. Subtleties and nuances in speech tell them much more than most of us could guess.

    The first time I heard a voice recording of my self, I thought I must be gay. It didn’t sound like any of my friends, but betrayed my class and region of origin. I was shocked! That class does not really exist today and the regional accent has also changed. Most have leveled. This is also true in Brittan.

    Somehow, I developed a generic accent, though it was not deliberate, but a few days with relatives will cause it to revert.

    Most of us tend to develop the way of speaking which we here most. For a lot of us in the workplace is full of people of various regions, and the News Readers all sound much the same.

    A couple of years ago I had a class with about 20 Germans who all spoke English. Several, perhaps eight of them has spent some time in Ireland. All spoke English with a pronounced Irish accent, but you could tell which studied in Cork to those who studied in Dublin, even through the typical German/English accent.

    The outside world does have an impact on how we sound and I can only surmise that eventually we will all sound much more alike.


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    Clan Clan InsaneApache's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    Humm, could be.

    You want to test it?

    Do you pronounce settlers as:

    a. set’lahs

    b.set-tel-ers

    c. some other way

    If you are dropping your R’s then the accent may have modified.

    However, I doubt your Viking ancestors would understand the language as it is spoken today.
    I'm guessing that he's a northener so he would use flat vowels a lot.

    a. set’lahs

    b.set-tel-ers

    c. some other way

    Most likely pronounced set' lurs.

    Depending on which side of the Pennines you came from. I was born in Lancashire and mainly lived there until I was twenty. After 29 years of living in Yorkshire my accent is all over the place.

    When i hear myself on recordings the persons I most sound like, that you may know about, would be a Sean Bean/Christopher Eccleston hybrid.

    Now anyone from the north of England would instantly 'hear' the differences between Seans and Christophers accents. Folks from 'darn sarf' would not hear the difference and I know for certain a yank wouldn't.

    When my dads present wife first arrived over here about 10 years ago from Jacksonville, she was astonished at how diverse the accents were just within a 10 mile radius. My dad took her on a grand tour of the UK from the southwest, Wales, south east and Scotland. In fact the only place they didn't go to was the six counties. I remember her saying after she'd been to Somerset and Devon how she could hear traces of the American accent. Even more so after visiting Wales.

    One of the funniest things was the first time we all met up. My dad threw a dinner party and invited my wife and I, my kids (both grown up in their 20s), their kids and my brother. Oh and just to add a bit more spice to the mix my old mate who's a Scouser.

    She literally didn't understand a word we were saying. She just sat there looking bemused and saying "what?" a lot.
    Last edited by InsaneApache; 02-09-2009 at 10:58. Reason: the p is silent as in bath
    There are times I wish they’d just ban everything- baccy and beer, burgers and bangers, and all the rest- once and for all. Instead, they creep forward one apparently tiny step at a time. It’s like being executed with a bacon slicer.

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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by InsaneApache View Post
    Now anyone from the north of England would instantly 'hear' the differences between Seans and Christophers accents. Folks from 'darn sarf' would not hear the difference and I know for certain a yank wouldn't.
    That might depend on the yank, especially the age of the yank…

    When I was a kid south Florida sounded southern, today it sounds like south Brookland with a Yiddish twist…



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    master of the wierd people Member Ibrahim's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post
    This topic originally came up in another thread but it is one very interesting to at least some of us, so I decided to continue it here.

    Which version of English is the older? American English or British English.

    On the surface it would surely be that of the Mother Land, but is that really so?

    Linguists tell us otherwise. They say that the American English is nearer to the way English was spoken at the time of the American Revolution than that still spoken in the UK.

    But hay! Don’t take anyone else’s word for it. What do you think?

    English is a language spoken or understood by at the very least 500 million people, and some of the variances are astounding.
    I can answer that in some detail:

    its true, none of the major dialects are exactly the same as they would have been centuries ago, but the ages (relatively) of major dialects is decernable. here is the order (with c. divergeance). I base this on my personal observations BTW, so its not meant to be accurate.

    1-Irish english (I cannot date it with approx.). rhotic or partially so, a few archaisms, still distant.

    2-North American English (in general: canadian or US). Rhotic, dipthonizing has begun for the some lower vowels in middle english (in stone, day, etc). diverged in the early to mid eighteenth century. some dialects from there became non rhotic independently of british english (in new england, it was dropped by the 1770's, as evidenced by the spelling of some names from then (hitchborn spelled roughly hitchbon)

    3-Australian english: non-rhotic, from the late eighteenth/early ninteenth century onwards.

    4-new zealand: mid nineteenth century onwards, also non rhotic.

    5-British english: latest dialect, believe it or not.

    here is a chart for the shifts in prunounciation:
    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikiped..._Shift.svg.png

    conlusion: none of the dialects mentioned is the same as the "standard" english of even the eighteenth century (there never reallywas until later), but as you have seen, rhotic dialects are typically older than non-rhotic diaects, hence American english is older than british english (of today's form of course).

    EDIT: in my case, I pronounce settlers as sɛtlɜ̝:ɹ (the t is weak though. the ɜ̝: is not an accurate representation)
    Last edited by Ibrahim; 02-13-2009 at 05:43.
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Dodge_272 View Post
    My regional English accent is derived from Viking settlers, so it's probably a bit older than the US of A.

    You could be right, for all I know, but I find your logic puzzling.

    All kinds of English derive from the 5th century Saxion invasion of England. Therefore American English has the same ancient roots as yours. Just because your region added some Norse words and pronunciation along the way doesn't necessarily mean that its current form is older than American English. Both your form and mine must have met a lot of outside influences since Viking times!

    On another subject, I think I'd be correct in saying that the BBC played a big role (quite deliberately) in standardizing English, and that British English, as spoken today, has a lot to do with the introduction of radios into peoples' homes. Ironically, after setting a common standard, the BBC now hires some announcers with regional accents. I assume that they are now trying to be more diverse.
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    Senior Member Senior Member Fisherking's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Ibrahim, I agree with your 1-5 assessment in the largest part and the reasons given.


    In other regards;
    As to Norse influence on English, it is not to be doubted. Many of our words are still the same in Norwegian in particular. This would point more to Ireland than England as a source of Norse words though.
    This does seem a bit odd, but I know little of modern Danish and its development. They must have been more alike in that period.

    Whether German changed its words or they were developed in some other way is beyond my scope.

    Saxon “English” if that can be a term of usage, was the same as the Western Saxon German spoken until as late as the mid 700s. Friesian however is the closest language to English today, and they were a much smaller part of the invasion, though they may have provided most of the transport and maintained a longer contact.

    I believe that a Dublin dialect is universally agreed to be the oldest in spoken English.


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    Member Member Sisco Americanus's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Fisherking View Post

    Whether German changed its words or they were developed in some other way is beyond my scope.
    I'm no linguist, but from my study of German many years ago I recall that the modern standardized German is Hochdeutsch, or "high German," so called because it originated in the German highlands in the south. I assume Low German, the dialects from the north, would be a decended dialect of the Saxons et al. who migrated to Britain, and indeed to this day that dialect is closer to English than Hochdeutsch is. My German teacher in high school once told us a personal anecdote from when she was studying abroad in northern Germany (I forget where, exactly), and one morning as she was just waking up she heard some maintanance men speaking to each other in the thick local dialect; she couldn't really understand what they were saying, and in the haze of not quite being awake yet the first thing she thought was, "Oh my gosh, I've forgotten English!!"

    I have a question regarding the Irish dialect being the oldest dialect of English still spoken: Would the Irish dialect of the 18th century have been essentially the same as that spoken in England and America at the time? I had always assumed the Irish, Scottish, and Welsh dialects were so different because they were more heavily influenced by the old gaellic tongues of their ancestors. Is this incorrect, or is it just that the English in England in the 18th century was just as much influenced by this as the Irish, etc.?
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    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sisco Americanus View Post
    I'm no linguist, but from my study of German many years ago I recall that the modern standardized German is Hochdeutsch, or "high German," so called because it originated in the German highlands in the south. I assume Low German, the dialects from the north, would be a decended dialect of the Saxons et al. who migrated to Britain, and indeed to this day that dialect is closer to English than Hochdeutsch is. My German teacher in high school once told us a personal anecdote from when she was studying abroad in northern Germany (I forget where, exactly), and one morning as she was just waking up she heard some maintanance men speaking to each other in the thick local dialect; she couldn't really understand what they were saying, and in the haze of not quite being awake yet the first thing she thought was, "Oh my gosh, I've forgotten English!!"
    This is a bit inaccurate. Regional dialects are still common among certain groups throughout Germany. High German isn't very similar to the regional dialects that dominate in the South (Bavarian, Austrian, Swabian) or the North (Plat German and so on). The coastal dialects tend to borrow more words from English and maybe even pronunciation because of the influence of commerce. Bavarian and Austrian is practically incomprehensible for most Germans, as is the dialect of Cologne.
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    Member Member Sisco Americanus's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Uesugi Kenshin View Post
    This is a bit inaccurate. Regional dialects are still common among certain groups throughout Germany. High German isn't very similar to the regional dialects that dominate in the South (Bavarian, Austrian, Swabian) or the North (Plat German and so on). The coastal dialects tend to borrow more words from English and maybe even pronunciation because of the influence of commerce. Bavarian and Austrian is practically incomprehensible for most Germans, as is the dialect of Cologne.
    I guess I've been misinformed, then. Or perhaps I'm not recalling correctly-- It was many, many years ago.

    EDIT: Perhaps this is the source of the confusion. From Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I know):

    Hochdeutsch (lit. "high German") is a phrase in German.

    Linguistically and historically, it refers to the High German languages, which developed in the Southern uplands and the Alps.
    Hochdeutsch is always used to refer to Standard German in daily (German) language, a confusing term since it collides with the linguistic meaning.
    In the common meaning, "hoch" refers to "high" in a cultural or educational sense (sometimes pejoratively), while the linguistic term simply refers to the geography of Germany.
    Last edited by Sisco Americanus; 02-15-2009 at 02:15. Reason: new info
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    Vermonter and Seperatist Member Uesugi Kenshin's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Quote Originally Posted by Sisco Americanus View Post
    I guess I've been misinformed, then. Or perhaps I'm not recalling correctly-- It was many, many years ago.

    EDIT: Perhaps this is the source of the confusion. From Wikipedia (yeah, yeah, I know):

    Hochdeutsch (lit. "high German") is a phrase in German.

    Linguistically and historically, it refers to the High German languages, which developed in the Southern uplands and the Alps.
    Hochdeutsch is always used to refer to Standard German in daily (German) language, a confusing term since it collides with the linguistic meaning.
    In the common meaning, "hoch" refers to "high" in a cultural or educational sense (sometimes pejoratively), while the linguistic term simply refers to the geography of Germany.
    Yeah I'm not really sure where standard German came from either. Maybe it takes elements from High German? I have no idea.
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    Awaiting the Rapture Member rotorgun's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    I think that if we are talking about English spoken of during the time of the Colonial period in America, then it is interesting to ponder how the language was spoken during the time of the Age of Discovery. It was only a relatively short time from the founding of the colonies in America until the Revolutionary period. The language could not have changed that radically by then. In the 1600's, the tail end of the Elizabethan era, the common dialect was very much different from that of the 19th Century. Here is a site where one can hear the sounds of English spoken at the time of Elizabeth:

    http://www.renfaire.com/Language/index.html

    If one takes the time to investigate this site, it is soon evident that, assuming that the interpreters are accurate in their interpretation of the accent, that there are some parallels to the way English is spoken today in the Unites States. In the South, one can still hear the influence of this manner of speech, as well as in some parts of New England. I have also read some first hand accounts of life in the early colonies when many of the expressions used in Elizabethan times were still being used by the early settlers of Massachusetts. Expressions such as Ye for you, Thy or Thine for Your or Yours, etc. There are many examples one could give.

    The ways in which English was changed in the United States since then owes much to the influence of the Native American languages on the colonists, giving them new words for the vocabulary, and the impact of immigrants from many countries besides Britain.
    Last edited by rotorgun; 02-15-2009 at 05:06.
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    Voluntary Suspension Voluntary Suspension Philippus Flavius Homovallumus's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    I'm not convinced that American English really represents some antique form of the language, I would favour the West Country for that, ye, the, thy, thou and thine are still in use here. For the record I speak with a Surrey accent, almost the same as my father.

    Language is a tricky thing, and it's important to remember that standard forms like West-Saxon (c800-1066), Chancery (c1500-1700 ish) and RP (c1850-) never reflect actions speech at all. In order to understand speech you have to look at non-standard writing.

    Non-standard is all we have in the Mediaeval period,which is what makes the literature so interesting.

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    Awaiting the Rapture Member rotorgun's Avatar
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    Default Re: English! Who talks funny?

    Here is an excerpt from an interesting link:


    http://www.englishclub.com/english-language-history.htm

    From around 1600, the English colonization of North America resulted in the creation of a distinct American variety of English. Some English pronunciations and words "froze" when they reached America. In some ways, American English is more like the English of Shakespeare than modern British English is. Some expressions that the British call "Americanisms" are in fact original British expressions that were preserved in the colonies while lost for a time in Britain (for example trash for rubbish, loan as a verb instead of lend, and fall for autumn; another example, frame-up, was re-imported into Britain through Hollywood gangster movies). Spanish also had an influence on American English (and subsequently British English), with words like canyon, ranch, stampede and vigilante being examples of Spanish words that entered English through the settlement of the American West. French words (through Louisiana) and West African words (through the slave trade) also influenced American English (and so, to an extent, British English).
    Of course there is always those of Wikipedia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_English

    The aforementioned is a good technical work describing in some detail how the language developed in the United States, which lends some credence to my point. Although as you say Phillipvs, language is a tricky thing, I reply with the words of a great countryman of ours, Facts are stubborn things- John Adams. It is fascinating to hear you describe your own dialect. I would love to be able to hear it. Where is Surrey located, in the western part of England? Are you familiar with a BBC program called The Last of the Summer Wine ? I often hear the characters use words such as Thee and Thy occasionally. Aside from the show being very humorous, it is interesting to hear the dialect spoken in the village where the show takes place.
    Rotorgun
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