All Kinds Of English

AnonyJoolz

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#1
I'm fascinated by the variants of English that have evolved independently outside of the British Isles. It's a kind of semi-permanent discussion in our house as my other half isn't a native English speaker so we often have slight misunderstandings of each other's languages, and conversations about words. I've become a bit of an amateur etymologist.

I have to refer to our English as "English English" when explaining some term that's common in "American English" or "Australian English" for example. They really are separate languages after undergoing a couple of hundred years' worth of evolution on different continents. There's also "Scots English" and "Welsh English" to contend with!

"Indian English" is an interesting one - echoes of Raj-era usage plus novel Indian additions. They have a term for when a minister or big cheese has to rush to a place or situation by aeroplane: Air-dash which is both a noun and a verb. In headlines the word 'jabs' is used as shorthand for 'attacks' eg., in today's Hindustan times: Priyanka Gandhi jabs PM’s ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ campaign. In some sections of Indian society English is the first language, normally in the middle/upper classes and urban elites.

I even found a webpage that aims to help Indians coming to live & work in the USA who speak "Indian English" (with its roots in Britain) negotiate and navigate "American English"! https://www.immihelp.com/newcomer/indian-english-american-english-language-dictionary.html
 

James_H

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#2
I talk to speakers of Hong Kong English all the time - people might think it's just 'wrong', but the differences are consistent across speakers. Some different vocabulary, Chinese-influenced grammar (simplified/no tenses), different pronounciation of words (strawBERry, pineAPple), Cantonese sentence particles at the end of sentences ('laaa', 'aaa').

'Singlish' of Singapore is very different and not really intelligible as English. It's more of a creole. Very interesting though.

I think Liberian English is very Interesting. I can't understand it at all.
 

Ermintruder

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#3
I've usually had few problems in understanding any shared non-standard English (ie non-US or non-UK &Commonwealth) in the sense that (certainly for me) simply listening to some group-use of that language helps attune /acclimate the ear even to highly-different styles.

I freely admit that there will be on the part of the outsider plenty of inferential gapfill going on, and the initial understanding is gist, not detail. But my point is that listening to groups consistently using a collective non-standard form is vastly-more comprehensible than trying to understand single individuals whose English is just plain bad.

One stylistic usage that really grates with me is the odd Black English sequence-flip where words like aks are used instead of "ask" or graps used for "grasp". I just find this jars in my brain, more than it should.

I think Liberian English is very Interesting. I can't understand it at all
Interesting. Have you an example?
 

Krepostnoi

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#5
Cantonese sentence particles at the end of sentences ('laaa', 'aaa').
That's a key feature of Scouse Manglish (Malaysian English), too - to the point of cheerful self-mockery - regardless of the ethnic background of the speaker. Interesting to note its origins lie in Cantonese.

@Yithian - done you a favour, brought you your coat.
 

Krepostnoi

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#6
I'm fascinated by the variants of English that have evolved independently outside of the British Isles. It's a kind of semi-permanent discussion in our house as my other half isn't a native English speaker so we often have slight misunderstandings of each other's languages, and conversations about words. I've become a bit of an amateur etymologist.

I have to refer to our English as "English English" when explaining some term that's common in "American English" or "Australian English" for example. They really are separate languages after undergoing a couple of hundred years' worth of evolution on different continents. There's also "Scots English" and "Welsh English" to contend with!

"Indian English" is an interesting one - echoes of Raj-era usage plus novel Indian additions. They have a term for when a minister or big cheese has to rush to a place or situation by aeroplane: Air-dash which is both a noun and a verb. In headlines the word 'jabs' is used as shorthand for 'attacks' eg., in today's Hindustan times: Priyanka Gandhi jabs PM’s ‘Main bhi Chowkidar’ campaign. In some sections of Indian society English is the first language, normally in the middle/upper classes and urban elites.

I even found a webpage that aims to help Indians coming to live & work in the USA who speak "Indian English" (with its roots in Britain) negotiate and navigate "American English"! https://www.immihelp.com/newcomer/indian-english-american-english-language-dictionary.html
I'm currently doing a lot of reading around the increasing global hegemony of English as the language of global scholarly communication, and the toll that takes, not only on non-native English speaker researchers, but also on native speakers of varieties of English that are not deemed to belong to the "core" - i.e. UK, USA, Australia etc. There's a clear post-colonial subtext to this, whereby some ex-colonies are more equal than others. It may not surprise some to learn that access to the prestigious journals only comes via gatekeepers - the editors - who are, by and large, white males who, it turns out, have quite fixed ideas about what "standard" English is and is not. It may, further, not surprise some to learn that these gatekeepers very often fail to realise that this "second-tier" of world Englishes is very much standard, depending on which part of the world you hail from, with obvious knock-on effects on the representation of different nationalities within these journals.

Meanwhile, it turns out that the proud tradition of Finnish-language academic writing has effectively become extinct, because of the pressure to publish in English, and many other cultures are seeing similar pressure on scholarly discourse in their first language. On the other hand, at least some of this trend towards English as the academic lingua franca has been driven by the attempts of former Eastern Bloc countries to escape the yoke of Russia. It is, to me at least, an unexpectedly fascinating and rich area to consider.
 

Ermintruder

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#7
"Could you please keep the noise down. Other people are trying to study."
Yes, I do see what you mean, as proffered example...certainly, as a vocalised word, it's a curious inclusion: not quite a rhetorical precondition, neither yet a fully-formal entreaty.

And presumably we do see little evidence of this outwith Liberia, either as a transference or an independant convergent form?

Unless it has simply fallen out of use, just prior to our collective awareness becoming exposed to it, and exists now only in specialist high literary contexts, and the abstruse metalanguage of Liberian English.

(ps Kt's pawn takes bishop en passant via Edgeware Rd then High Barnett & we are at Mornington Crescent)
 

James_H

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#8
That's a key feature of Scouse Manglish (Malaysian English), too - to the point of cheerful self-mockery - regardless of the ethnic background of the speaker. Interesting to note its origins lie in Cantonese.

@Yithian - done you a favour, brought you your coat.
All Chinese languages have sentence particles. They fulfill a function in a tonal language that pitch and stress might in a non-tonal, stress-timed language like English: indicate the mood of the sentences, eg questioning, surprised, sarcastic. Cantonese just has way more than eg mandarin, and why is a bit of a mystery.

I imagine Malaysian English is quite close to Singlish, which is very heavy on the laaa. It's heavily influenced by Cantonese and Hokkien.
 
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AnonyJoolz

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#10
I talk to speakers of Hong Kong English all the time - people might think it's just 'wrong', but the differences are consistent across speakers. Some different vocabulary, Chinese-influenced grammar (simplified/no tenses), different pronounciation of words (strawBERry, pineAPple), Cantonese sentence particles at the end of sentences ('laaa', 'aaa').

'Singlish' of Singapore is very different and not really intelligible as English. It's more of a creole. Very interesting though.

I think Liberian English is very Interesting. I can't understand it at all.
Singapore is very interesting - a real melting-pot of cultures and ethnic influences, I would like to visit one day.

I have a lot of contact with people who speak Nepali English and it's quite different from Indian English in terms of accent and some pronunciation. In Nepali/Neplish 'laa, laa' is used as a response similar to 'oh, ok' or 'oh dear' or similar. We have a standing joke about "Hetterrow Airput" (Heathrow) in our house.

ISWYM about Liberian English, I got about 20% of it on first listen!

I remember listening to a R4 programme about a simplified English proposed for usage as a lingua franca between non-native speakers - the 'correct' usage being irrelevant as long as people understood each other being the aim. I think it might have been this one: https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b013q210
 

Lord Lucan

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#11
Singlish is fascinating. My wife and I travel to Singapore yearly as we love it there so much. The food, the people, the melting pot cultures of Indonesians, Malays, Indians plus the local Chinese, the efficiency of the place... it's wonderful, and I'd live there in a heartbeat despite hating the oppressive humidity.
Here's a brief outline:

Singlish for the beginner
 

Yithian

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#12
I read The Times of India a few times a week (there is a free app).

One observation of Indian English (at least from what I've seen) is that they adore idiom and never miss a chance to crowbar a metaphor, saying, proverb or maxim into a paragraph.

(Often ones that are rather hackneyed in British English)
 

Ladyloafer

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#14
I find this very fascinating. I only speak (english) english, and often have trouble understanding other english. especially out of context (even tv, which i watch a lot of, I often use subtitles). barely got a word from that Liberia video.

You lot are obviously all very edukated about all this verb/past participle stuff- i think i missed that lesson (or year) at school! lol

Pidgin English is excting. Although it covers a lot of different versions. Tok Pisin is an actual offical language of Papua New Guinea, and its really a very simplified phonic version of 'proper' english words.

eg.
kaikai – food, eat, to bite (Austronesian loan word); also
  • kaikai bilong moningtaim - breakfast (from "food belong morning time")
  • kaikai bilong nait - dinner/supper (from "food belong night")


haus – house or building
  • hausboi/hausmeri – a male/female domestic servant - hausboi (or haus boi) can also mean "servants quarters"
  • haus kaikai — restaurant (from "house food")
  • haus moni – bank (from "house money")
  • haus sik – hospital (from "house sick")
  • haus dok sik – animal hospital (from "house dog sick")
  • haus karai – place of mourning (from "house cry")
  • sit haus (vulgar) – toilet (from "shit house")


reading it, i find it easy to understand, but how i would cope hearing it is another story.
 

Lord Lucan

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#15
I find this very fascinating. I only speak (english) english, and often have trouble understanding other english. especially out of context (even tv, which i watch a lot of, I often use subtitles). barely got a word from that Liberia video.

You lot are obviously all very edukated about all this verb/past participle stuff- i think i missed that lesson (or year) at school! lol

Pidgin English is excting. Although it covers a lot of different versions. Tok Pisin is an actual offical language of Papua New Guinea, and its really a very simplified phonic version of 'proper' english words.

eg.
kaikai – food, eat, to bite (Austronesian loan word); also
  • kaikai bilong moningtaim - breakfast (from "food belong morning time")
  • kaikai bilong nait - dinner/supper (from "food belong night")


haus – house or building
  • hausboi/hausmeri – a male/female domestic servant - hausboi (or haus boi) can also mean "servants quarters"
  • haus kaikai — restaurant (from "house food")
  • haus moni – bank (from "house money")
  • haus sik – hospital (from "house sick")
  • haus dok sik – animal hospital (from "house dog sick")
  • haus karai – place of mourning (from "house cry")
  • sit haus (vulgar) – toilet (from "shit house")


reading it, i find it easy to understand, but how i would cope hearing it is another story.
Pidgin makes perfect sense when you think about it. At school we had a couple of guys who were boarders from Papua New Guinea and whilst they could speak English perfecly well, amongst themselves, their speech was a mixture of regular and Pidgin.
 

James_H

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#16
Can pidgins and creoles be considered variants of English?
 

Victory

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#17
I definitely struggle with some accents, even if the speaker is very comfortable speaking in English.
This is an example of a Kenyan man speaking...I can understand him, but I have to work at understanding him.

 

Kingsize Wombat

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#18
Singlish is fascinating. My wife and I travel to Singapore yearly as we love it there so much. it's wonderful despite hating the oppressive humidity.
Here's a brief outline:

Singlish for the beginner
That humidity is a deal breaker for me. February in Sydney is bad enough - to have that year round? No way lah.

It is a nice place to visit though.
 

Mythopoeika

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#19
I definitely struggle with some accents, even if the speaker is very comfortable speaking in English.
This is an example of a Kenyan man speaking...I can understand him, but I have to work at understanding him.

At least he leaves gaps between the words.
A Nigerian friend of mine would run all of his words together. Made it hard to have a conversation.
Now, he's a C of E vicar in Leeds, so I think in the years since I last saw him, he may have learned to speak English as it's spoken over here.
 

Victory

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#21
The Real McCoy: Nathaniel from Lagos teaching Jamaicans how to speak the Queen's Mother-language.

The late great Felix Dexter.

Amazing that was 20 years ago...such a sketch would almost be unbroadcastable now....social changes have been such that
so many more Black Britons are of mixed West Indian and West African parentage, and those fortune seeking Nigerian immigrants working in any job they can find, now have grown up graduate children working in the professions.
 

James_H

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#22
At least he leaves gaps between the words.
A Nigerian friend of mine would run all of his words together. Made it hard to have a conversation.
In British English (and in fact every language) we don't leave gaps between words. We just hear the words distinctly because we are used to the sound of it.
 

Mythopoeika

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#23
In British English (and in fact every language) we don't leave gaps between words. We just hear the words distinctly because we are used to the sound of it.
Yes... but we don't say things this way:
'Dubnobasswithmyheadman'
We say things this way:
'Dub no bass with my head, man'
See?
 

James_H

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#24
Yes... but we don't say things this way:
'Dubnobasswithmyheadman'
We say things this way:
'Dub no bass with my head, man'
See?
I don't really see what you mean. We don't put any silences between words when speaking, except for pauses. We hear the string of syllables as separate words based on the rhythm, stress, and the content we infer from it. Think 'four candles'/'fork handles'.
 

Ogdred Weary

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#25
So, does English have dialects? I've heard it said that "a language is a dialect with an army and a navy" but I can't quite get my head around the fact that nations which are reasonably comparable with Britain: Germany, Spain, Italy and no doubt others have dialects and some people don't speak the "official" version of their language. My friend, after many years of struggling to understand his Italian father in law, finally clicked that he was speaking the local dialect and not "Italian", said FiL's wife and children speak "Italian". He understands Italian, just doesn't use it. That blows my mind.

I appreciate we have multiple variations on English in the UK/Ireland, not to mention four separate Celtic languages (five including Manx) but are any distinct enough to be dialects? Is "Scots" the closest thing?
 

Ermintruder

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#26
Is "Scots" the closest thing?
Scots (proper Lallans Scots) officially is sufficiently-distinct from English to be classifiable as a seperate language, not just a dialect.

The reason why this is difficult for eg many English speakers native to England to fully-comprehend is because both the Scots language and English language have common origins, followed by differing influences and trends.

Nobody would claim that Portugese & Spanish are the same language. Or Dutch & German. Yet the differences between Scots and English languages are (in some respects) greater.

Scots language is nearly dead. In Scotland, the vast majority of people speak English with a variable amount of added Scots vocabulary and syntax, since both Scots & Gaelic languages were deliberately-evicted by force up until the 1970s.

And although Gaelic is officially supported by government in Scotland, it is an almost a total red herring (an Irish one...it is in effect, Irish language).

Spoken by less than 1% of the population, communicated by a national broadcaster that appears to spend 25%+ of it's budget on Gaelic programming, and plastered over roadsigns in places that never spoke Gaelic in their entire history (eg in Strathclyde they originally spoke Welsh) it is driven by curious dynamics.
 
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#27
Scots (proper Lallans Scots) officially is sufficiently-distinct from English to be classifiable as a seperate language, not just a dialect.

The reason why this is difficult for eg many English speakers native to England to fully-comprehend is because both the Scots language and English language have common origins, followed by differing influences and trends.

Nobody would claim that Portugese & Spanish are the same language. Or Dutch & German. Yet the differences between Scots and English languages are (in some respects) greater.

Scots language is nearly dead. In Scotland, the vast majority of people speak English with a variable amount of added Scots vocabulary and syntax, since both Scots & Gaelic languages were deliberately-evicted by force up until the 1970s.

And although Gaelic is officially supported by government in Scotland, it is an almost a total red herring (an Irish one...it is in effect, Irish language).

Spoken by less than 1% of the population, communicated by a national broadcaster that appears to spend 25%+ of it's budget on Gaelic programming, and plastered over roadsigns in places that never spoke Gaelic in their entire history (eg in Strathclyde they originally spoke Welsh) it is driven by curious dynamics.
Scots is alive and well!

A Scottish insult describing someone as a scrotum is among the latest additions to the Oxford English Dictionary.

Bawbag - slang for ball bag - is one of more than 650 new words, senses and subentries added to the famous compendium.
Sponsored link.

Other newly included Scottish words include bam, bampot and bamstick, which mean someone who is foolish, annoying, obnoxious, belligerent or disruptive.

https://news.sky.com/story/rude-scottish-words-added-to-oxford-english-dictionary-11671519
 

Ogdred Weary

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#28
Scots (proper Lallans Scots) officially is sufficiently-distinct from English to be classifiable as a seperate language, not just a dialect.

The reason why this is difficult for eg many English speakers native to England to fully-comprehend is because both the Scots language and English language have common origins, followed by differing influences and trends.

Nobody would claim that Portugese & Spanish are the same language. Or Dutch & German. Yet the differences between Scots and English languages are (in some respects) greater.

Scots language is nearly dead. In Scotland, the vast majority of people speak English with a variable amount of added Scots vocabulary and syntax, since both Scots & Gaelic languages were deliberately-evicted by force up until the 1970s.

And although Gaelic is officially supported by government in Scotland, it is an almost a total red herring (an Irish one...it is in effect, Irish language).

Spoken by less than 1% of the population, communicated by a national broadcaster that appears to spend 25%+ of it's budget on Gaelic programming, and plastered over roadsigns in places that never spoke Gaelic in their entire history (eg in Strathclyde they originally spoke Welsh) it is driven by curious dynamics.
A Dane has said to me that Danish. Norwegian and Swedish are effectively the same language and that he once had a conversation with a Swede and a Norwegian and each was speaking their respective language but still understood the others. Other Scandinavians have said similar things, though not quite as strongly.

The Gaelic thing is weird, I wonder if there's a similar situation to Welsh: where if anything the language is over-privileged and protected. I think something like 20% are native speakers and there's been a growing phenomenon of Welsh medium schools in areas that has been pretty much English only for a few generations. It's been the done thing for middle class parents to send their kids to such schools for a long time and a woman I met from North Wales (Welsh first language) taught in a primary school and apparently English people moving into the area try to get their kids into such schools as they are perceived to be "better". Possibly as they can be more selective, like religious schools across England and Wales.

There's a drive to make all signage bilingual and train station announcements are in Welsh first, despite the fact that most people do not understand it and outside of those areas where it's a first language, it is very seldom, if ever, used publicly. Obviously the situation with Scottish Gaelic is more extreme though.
 

Frideswide

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#29
The book I'm currently reading - Brandon Massey's Dark Corner, no spoilers please! - is set in Mississippi and written in american english.

The dog, a large german shepherd keeps chuffing. As he enters and leaves rooms, as he settles down for the night, in response to being talked to......

In my own english this means he farts a lot. A truly magnificent performance, and I tip my hat to Blue and Dave-the-Dog for making me aware that this is both possible and perhaps a special skill that will be useful later in the story. "Brave dog asphyxiates villain."

But... is this really what is meant? Is the dog huffing rather than farting?

And yes, this is exercising many more brain cells than perhaps it should! :pop:
 
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