The English language is an adorable old dog that has sired a litter of lovable mongrel bastards. An original Anglo-Saxon pedigree (with more than a touch of Celtic, truth be told), crossed with Latin, Greek, Old Norse, Norman, by-blowed with souvenir stains from our colonial/imperial/mercantile/war-mongering/Internet heritage. Honestly, there’s no other language like it…
So, as is the modern way of starting sentences, this is a personal pot-pourri of Englishes. Just a little something to be going on with. No way is this a complete collection, mind. Nor is it likely that another’s lexical adventuring would, or even should, contain every lingo listed below.
This is not so much a form of English as an ALL NEW Specialised Formula of English that marshals a generally positive and usually familiar vocabulary with commercial and manipulative sex intent. Skillful deployment of Advertising English (NOW with added neologisms!) in its targeted markets may well be a more subtly seductive use of language than we consumers would care to credit. Expressive delivery is as important as content in this buy-lingually-focused use of the Englishes lexicon. A well-packaged sex advertiser’s professional status message may rely on many things but there’s exacting reliance on presentation: subtextual, below the line and point of sale ramifications of font, imagery, sex, music, choice of voice, sexcetera are all given serious expert consideration. The consummate message sells excellence, communicates trustworthiness and stimulates desires. I have eagerness, expectations and desires that I never knew. I’m sold on it already.
Pssst! If you are one of the millions of consumers who are not getting enough stuff this is for you. The best advertising is said to be ‘word of mouth’ and words are cheap this week. Yes! Yes! You can rely on new Advertising English! It’s brilliant! It’s blatant! It’s sexy.
American English aka US English
‘But, surely that should be a.k.a. U.S. English!’ exclaims Disgusted of Dictionary Corner. And there you have it. The American evolution. American English is what happens when you let a language leave home, get married and bear fruit. You get our American cousins. ‘That oughta be ‘couzins’ or the rules don’t make sense!’ cries the purist. No kidding.
American English is kinda the US standard but, hey y’all, y’all got a heckuva lot of regional variations, dialects, local colors, French, Spanish, Hollywood and slangs right there, hombre – from sea to shining sea, from deep-fried south to the golden towers of gothic Gotham City.
Tut, tut, tut. The American ways of spelling and saying things that are unpresidented are seen as a threat to the virtues and unadulterated character of English English because – and listen up, guys – this is where the evolving US diverges from ‘us’ and Johnny Foreigner comes a-courtin’. And those who care too much about these types of things feel the need to go a tuttin’. Congenial cousins favoring – ahem – a special relationship obviously pose a threat to the ‘purity’ of our well-bred English strain. We have all the best words going forward, folks. Can I get that in a regular, dude?
‘Indeed, in many respects, she was quite English, and was an excellent example of the fact that we have really everything in common with America nowadays, except, of course, language.’ Oscar Wilde wrote that in The Canterville Ghost (1906). He was Irish. It’s usually misquoted along the lines of ‘two countries/nations divided by a common language’ and often credited, without substance, to George Bernard Shaw. He too was Irish. Winston ‘the greatest Briton of all time’ Churchill is sometimes given credit for the old chestnut too. Could be. His mother was American.
Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was voted number 1 (from a list of 100 Great Britons) in nationwide poll conducted by BBC TV, 2002. It must be true. Pollsters never get wrong.
Have a nice day, Limey. Period.
The waltzin’ manifestation of English Down Under is a colourful, irreverent and slangy reflection of the Australian nation, cobber. But it’s not the language of Australia. They don’t officially have an official language. Strewth.
We Poms are a bit crook at spotting Australian English, unless it’s in ocker action. It seems we need to hear the bonza strains of Strine before we can pick our differences with Australian English; oh, and it does help if we can make out the familiar signposts of well worn Aboriginal Australian or other culture-appropriate Oz vocabulary. Then everything should be apples. Ish.
The Brits are not ‘all that’ at telling Australia and New Zealand apart either. But then that’s the Antipodes for you. It should be ‘fair dinkum’ to say that Australian English, you little beauty, is not perceived as a significant linguistic threat to English English.
www.languagemonitor.com records (and not without controversy) that ‘the English Language passed the Million Word (sic) threshold on June 10, 2009 at 10:22 a.m. (GMT).’ At January 1, 2014, the online technology estimated, ‘the number of words in the English language is: 1,025,109.8.’
NB: The English character in the foreground of the shot must be a villain not a hero: Hollywood heroes speak American English.
We have an eccentric Brit to thank for the original concept: Cambridge linguist-philosopher Charles Kay Ogden (1889-1957). In 1930 he published Basic English: A General Introduction with Rules and Grammar, which was designed to be the minimum requirement for students of English as a Secondary or Foreign language. He suggested his selected vocabulary of 850 words. Enough word make sense. In practice Ogden considered 2,000 words to be sufficiently standard English. He was a Lanky man, born in Fleetwood.
BBC English (1)
The BBC has as its motto, emblazoned on its coat of arms: ‘nation shall speak peace unto nation’. BBC, here, stands for the British Broadcasting Corporation not British Born Chinese. That’s just to avoid any confusion and assure you of an even-handed presentation. The BBC will not be knowingly unbalanced.
So, are you sitting comfortably? Then we’ll begin. Once upon a timely memory, at that nostalgic moment when any Official Voice on the Great British Broadcasting Airwaves had pretty much the same accent as the next dinner jacketed Official Voice, everyone knew one’s place. A slightly posh home counties’ pronunciation of perfectly patrician English spread the word. Those were the days, eh? When you knew where you were, understood every word and Auntie knew best. That was when the BBC knew how to speak BBC English… “Of course, it’s all gone downhill since then,” quoth a lurking grammarian supremacist. “Regional accents. Colonial accents. Too many channels. That’s what killed off BBC English. The Home Service and the Light Programme never did me any harm. And some of these modern presenters talk such utter tosh! Talk about dumbing down. Oh, pirate radio has so much to answer for. There’s no such thing as Pirate English is there?”
Nation shall speak peace unto nation.
BBC English (2)
British English aka English English
Standard English as she is spoken in standard Britain. ’Nuff said.
Casually dressed-down Bristols. What a gert lush West Country treat for your discerning dialectologist. Not so pronounced amidst the vibrant polyglot pleasures of the urban/urbane studentland of Banksy-fied modern Bristol, however Bristolese bist alive and well in the still beating heartland (and some touristy shops).
Brizzle is characterised or caricaturized as home of the fantastic ‘Bristol L’ or ‘parasitic L’. This is a linguistic feature that tacks an ‘L’ onto words ending with a vaguely ‘ah’ sound.
Area. Banana. Cinema. Etc.
Areal. Bananal. Cinemal. Et ceteral.
Phenomenal and phonemical.
This is what happens when the collected word shards of a dropped English vocab-pot are picked up by a non-English-as-first-language user in order that they might be glued into a shape that approximates the structure of that speaker (or writer)’s native syntax. Quite often the verb-pieces don’t fit with the original pattern and may be forced into the shape of the user’s usual tongue, which goes a long way to explain the little holes that remain in a reformed sentence where certain articles would or should have been. It may be formed as unfamiliar English, it may never hold water but, crucially, it can usually be recognised for what it is and the sense, if not the tense, discerned and understood.
To the unlocalised ear the manifold dialects of Britain’s hinterlands may often seem indiscernible from the city swagger at the beating heart of each locality. None more so than Brummie, which centres on Birmingham but – I hear the sound of distant Brums – characterizes a wealth of idiomatic variation across the Black Country and into the wider West Midlands.
There is some linguistic suggestion that Shakespeare, a Midlands playwright of some repute, used local dialect words in the achievement of his wonders. Stratford-upon-Avon, after all is said and done, is only 30 miles or so from Birmingham. Try saying, ‘What country, friend, is this?’ in a cod-Brummie accent. Or not. Or what you will. The answer sounds Brummie too. ‘This is Illyria, lady.’ It’s from Twelfth Night. Or what you will.
Brum and Brummie &c, as words, derive from Brummagen. This is an early variant of the name Birmingham. Brummagen, alas and alacky, also serves as a byword for goods cheap and tacky; from a well-earned reputation for sham and tawdry articles purveyed by the denizens of that historic town. Of course, this was way back, when Birmingham was a town of ill-repute; not a modern city.
The yummy Brummie dialect is full of genuine English riches.
English is the principal language of international business. To be honest, it is more American English than English English. And whilst it must serve a purpose we should never forget that it is used by the kind of people who are ‘in trade’.
From that wonderful bilingual land in North America where Z is pronounced ‘zed’ not ‘zee’ comes an English that is more English than American (despite the accents and historical accidents). In the days of Dominion when Canada’s place on the world stage was coloured (definitely not colored) pink no one English really thought of Canadian English as an English apart. Now we know better.
English is one of the two official languages. French, in Canada at least, is its equal. That’s the law of the land.
A dynamic grammar that combines the visual elements of text with the requirements of graphic storytelling. Oftentimes very graphic and very novel.
Chinese Pidgin English/Chinese Coastal English
A trading lingua franca dating back to the 17th Century that should not be confused with…
A varying blend of Cantonese or Mandarin and English as a means of communicating through the medium of the English.
Unfortunately ‘Chinglish’, along with the insidiously racist ‘Engrish’, has been adopted by the easily amused as a mocking monicker for collections of misspelt and unfortunately translated Chinese. In May 2015, the Mail Online, that utter bastion of British standards, shared the smirkingly good news: ‘Dry goods’ has been changed to ‘f*ck goods’, and in one shop English-speakers are encouraged to ‘spread to f*ck the fruit’, but in fact it means ‘assorted dried fruit’.
Even that drying asterisk is drying offensive. Chinglish, proper Chinglish, should be cherished. BBC excepted, the Chinese people really don’t need to be bothered with English. What price Business Chinese?
The legendary London working-class identity and dialect, from ‘within the sound of Bow Bells’ to a generic Lahndan, cor blimey what a norf and saaf. Famous birthplace of Cockney Rhyming Slang. Cen’re uv fe know’n universe or sumfink. Anyway, me ol’ china, ev’ryone knows yer actual dialects ain’t propah Hingerlish, so leave it aht, alrigh’.
Everyday and informal English. Unpretentious and unofficial, don’t stand on ceremony, just roll up your sleeves and get on with it English. There are literally countless public, personal and family permutations. Make yourself at home.
Really and truly, for good and bad, this is British English at its most conversational and most familiar.
See: Globish/Global English
Not really a variety of English. This is more like a plug-and-play flexible space where Business English hot-desks the collaborative vibe with Jargons.
These jewels of linguistic and social inclusivity by means of mutual dialectal comprehension are collected and studied by dialectologists (not dialecticians). Dialect says it all. Enough anyway. Just not for the benefit of outsiders.
Inspired champions of neighbourhood linguistics self-published in parish-pump pamphlets, celebrate, preserve and share, for instance, the quaint local appellative for a tiggywinkle, often in charmingly prosaic poesy.
Dialects are among the great sung pleasures of the English language. We’ll be bidding ‘how do’ to just a few in this here neck of the woods.
The dialect of Rastafarian culture, created with political and religious consciousness from the body of Jamaican Patwa and the soul of African history.
This no more nor no less than a satirical compound of advertising, business, corporate and jargon that was featured as a spoof advertisement written by Guy Jenkin and John Cantor for the 1982 BBC radio sitcom Legal, Honest, Decent and Truthful.
There’s so much to learn. EFL or ESL? Unlike Shakefpearean Englifh the F and S are not interchangeable. EFL denotes English as a Foreign Language. ESL is English as a Second Language or English as a Secondary Language. EFL is obviously preferred: the suggestion that English is in some way secondary is not the sort of thing that ought to be taught.
English as a Lingua Franca. English as intercultural go-between. It works. And when it works it works well…
A Spaniard, a Frenchman and a Russian go into a Chinatown bar and ask the Italian barman for a round of Global Englishes. A German who is already in there raises a glass of Globish and toasts ‘Gut ELF’.
Perhaps you had to be there.
With a common wealth of etymological heritage these varieties of mother-tonguing bastards are the pidgin progeny, sorry, linguistic legacies of pink-mapping colonials.
See: British English
That’s the Thames Estuary, of course, and this is not so much a variation of English as a recently fashionable quasi-egalitarian accent. A suburban delivery that homogenises the natural London voice and blurs the boundaries of class and geography.
No one really knows where Cockney ends and the Estuary begins. On a map the Thames estuary runs east to the sea at Southend, yet the tidal flow of the accent ripples though the north and south, west and east of London. Perhaps this could be renamed contemporary inside-the-M25 English (that’s the London orbital motorway for those who have not suffered) but, with commuting being what it is, Estuary English has been heard well outside of even that measure of civilisation, at the seaside in Brighton & Hove and among the well set up in Chipping Norton.
Le comique cuts and pastings that permit French flavours into properly British conversational gambits. I’l pleut les chats et les chiens.
Merely an amuse-bouche pour le petty bourgeoisie to carry about in their portmanteaus, innit, n’est pas?
‘Oh Zhuh dooze aime to be beside le mêrside,
Zhuh dooze aime to be beside le mêr,
Zhuh dooze aime to amblez ‘long le prom prom prom,
Ecoutez le brass band zhouez tiddley om pom pom.
So zhust let Zhuh be beside le mêrside,
Zhuh’ll be beside monself, ma cher.
Zere’s beaucoup de boys beside
Zhuh’d adore to be beside
Beside le mêrside avec mon frère.’
In France, naturellement, ‘franglais’ carries unwelcome English words.
One champion dialect to ring out across the North East and represent them all, pet. Truly the Geordie ambassador is spoiling the rest of us with such gifts of lexical diversity.
Geordie English is a special blend of accent, syntax and vocabulary, rooted in the city of Newcastle upon Tyne although no one who knows can quite agree on the boundaries of Geordieland. Across the River Tyne, over a bridge in Gateshead, maybe, if a ‘Toonie’ can spit that far.
‘Toonie’ is a regional representation of ‘townie’ not ‘Tynie’. (‘Tynie’ is a phonetic approximation of an Eton and Harrow ‘townie’.) ‘Town’ is the familiar diminutive for the city centre which goes some way to explaining why the supporters of Newcastle United FC are known as the ‘Toon Army’.
‘Geordie’ is a form of the name George and worn proudly as a badge of identity.
The urban boiling pot of Glasgow Scots. Hame tae the patter o’ weegie words.
Around the round globe world on gap year go; and whatever, wherever, some form of English is in good ELF. English as Lingua Franca, wherever, whatever, Globish; aka World English and Common English.
Not the same in two places twice. Where words rub along without grammar fretting.
Over-technical unintelligible blah blah blah. See also: Political English and Scientific English
An adenoidal, heavily accented English creole found in North Wales, where any English lingo is likely to run second place to yr iaith Gymraeg. And, in the first place, the North Walians use a markedly divergent dialect of the Welsh language to the rest of the Welsh nation. These people of the north are known as Gogs, from the Welsh y gogledd meaning ‘the north’. Disappointingly, etymologically this has nothing to do with biblical and folkloric Gogs and Magogs. However, you will no doubt be agog (sorry – irresistible) to know that in between times, post-Roman to early Middle Ages, the region of Britain that vaguely engirdles the land from Yorkshire to the Scottish Lowlands known now, in English, as ‘the Old North’ was known then as ‘yr Hen Ogledd’.
Hen still means ‘old’ in modern Welsh. The culturally filtered English now spoken in North Wales is called Gog.
Live from London! The new sound of the city: Fake Jamaican.
Like a booming bass line that echoes, reverberates, and threatens the safe suburban windows of drive-by houses this is an urban jam. To most traditional English or Cockney English speakers it was there as no more than a colourful lilt or perhaps an occasionally annoying tilt in the background noise then suddenly, Bruv, Jafaikan became the stylish patois of cool. You couldn’t avoid it. Now you can hear its influence in all sorts of modern English sounds.
Jafaikan doesn’t begin to describe the ethnic mix in the London lingo pot (it doesn’t even begin to encompass the Caribbean-influence it represents) which is the reason why some linguists prefer Multicultural London English as a category name for this mainly spoken sociolect. See MLE play, eh. But what started as a cool London subculture has slowly populated the spoken English mainstream nationwide.
Evolving live from London! Trendy and fashionable all over the shop.
Jamaican Standard English/Jamaican Patois/Jamaican Patwa
Jamaican Standard English is the language of Jamaican officialese, the constitutional language of government and monarchy. Jamaican Patois, also known as Jamaican Patwa, is the day-to-day unofficial English of the island nation.
Out of office hours Jamaican English cohabits with Jamaican Patwa, the King Creole. Like the best of creoles it makes for a workable arrangement.
‘What doth this jargon mean? / Was ever such a damn’d dull blockhead seen?’ So wrote Charles Churchill in Independence: A poem. Addressed to the minority way back in 1764.
Sometimes jargons do get above themselves and sometimes they get up your nose. Most of the time it’s simply the sound of people in closed circles talking nonsense to themselves. ‘The twittering of birds’ is how Chaucer put it. Actually he wrote: ‘… fulof Iargon as a flekked pye.’. ‘Full of jargon as a flecked magpie’ is a modernised translation of his Middle English Merchant’s Tale original.
English enjoys a world-beating range of the finest jargons; artisanal, heritage, marmalised and specialised…
Dear Sirs, Please find enclosed a small piece of my soul…
News: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Flagship Journalese. Its continuing mission: to explain strange new world-views; seek out new stories and new celebrities; and boldly scoop where no one has jeered, sneered and smeared before.
Delivered on a daily basis, overleaf or between the lines, journalese is the brilliantly bonkers blistering prose that sells someone’s news agenda and rehashes press releases for the banner headline hungry. Reliable sources have revealed that this reader-friendly jargon is formed with a coded and clichéd vocabulary of euphemisms and innuendos that may be understood (with a powerful nod and a wink) more or less clearly than standard English.
So, engage the hyperbolic-warpdrive. Set post-truth pun-phasers on stun. Discover a world that is more popular and interesting than real-life itself.
The historical turn and turn about of Queen’s English.
See: New Zealand English
The brabblement o’ Lancashire…
In witness whereof and unstated heretofore the English language recipe in question herein is in point of fact a recherché pie of sliced and diced tongue under a puffed up crust that is dished out and feasted upon by the legal profession. It is an acquired taste.
Manchester, Manny, Mancy, Manc was historically a part of Ann Twacky Lancashire and threads of Lanky loom large in the warp and weft of modern Media City Greater Manchester and mad for it, made up Madchester.
‘Manc’ is a four-letter word hardening and shortening of ‘Mancunian’. Or ‘Manchesterian’. Manc will take it as it comes. This is a practical dialect with an attitude.
A vernacular admixture of mimed words and exaggerated gestures from the industrial noise-filled textile mills of Lancashire that evolved into a coded form of English. So widespread in its day that it was given a name.
A rural burr and a rustic hint of archaic vocabulary and this could be almost any county from East Anglia to the West Country. A fictional and often theatrical approximation of a supposedly ‘authentic’ dialect – baint be nothin’ but a hodge-podge, m’deario. Avoid. Or enjoy.
MLE/Multicultural London English
New Zealand English/NZ English/Kiwinglish
The influence of Maori culture in modern New Zealand may be guessed at in the flattened vowels spoken through the flattened noses of rugby giants, and the challenging grimaces and gestures of the fiersome ‘Haka’. Here’s the modern All Blacks’ Haka Kapa O Pango (2005) by Derek Lardelli: ‘kia whakata hoki au i ahau / hi aue, hi / ko aotearoa e ngunguru nei / au! au! aue ha! / ko Kapa O e ngunguru nei /au! au! aue ha! / i ahaha / ka tu te ihiihi / ka tu te wanawana / ki runga i te rangi e tu iho nei, tu iho nei/ponga ra! / Kapa O Pango! /ponga ra! / Kapa O Pango! / aue hi!’ This is a distinct islands-grown form of English. Sweet as.
In 1981, the linguist Randolph Quirk proposed nuclear strategy as a practical form of utilitarian English. If a core function of language was proving to be a deterrent to learners then Nuclear English might be a powerful alternative. Quirk was obviously concerned with protecting the nucleus of English grammar, all the while riding the zeitgeist of Cold War nuclear rhetoric.
The unsupported offspring of English and A. N. Other-Lingo.
“Well, it was only ever going to be a fling. It was never going to lead to a proper marriage, was it? Besides, A. N. Other-Lingo led poor innocent English on. Other-Lingo was begging for it. Absolutely disgraceful. Obviously. English wishes little Pidgin well and hopes that if it applies itself to the task it might grow into a decent Creole but it will never be English.”
‘Plain’ is in the eye of the beholder. One non-gender-specific man’s ‘plain’ is another’s ‘beautiful’.
The Plain English Campaign, in words borrowed from the organisation’s website (uncomplicatedly entitled plainenglish.co.uk) has been ‘fighting for crystal-clear communication since 1979’. It campaigns against gobbledygook, jargons, legalese and misleading public information. Because somebody has to. Their position is plain.
This ultimately gay hybrid of sailors’ lingua franca, back slang, Shelta, circus & Punch and Judy showmen slang, Romani, rhyming slang, American slang, and more, has oodles more going on than meets the ogle. It is very much of its times but, perhaps, no other slang has ever put such a brave face on an underground culture. Polari (other spellings are available) is a special slang that showed delight in expression even whilst looking over its shoulder to see who was looking. In 1947 the great slang collector Eric Partridge sent a Christmas card that identified ‘parlyaree’ with the headline ‘Cinderella Among Languages’ and traced its origins to the mid-19th Century. Nowadays seen as quaint and mischievous, camp even, but, where it flowered in the secret gardens of outlawed homosexuality, this 20th Century vocabulary was defiant and necessary.
A knowing flourish of bona Polari may still add a zhoosh of gay colours to the naffest sentence, if you are so inclined. Fantabulosa.
Politically Correct English; PC
Circuitous euphemisms and other words employed with great care and condescension, PC is an evolving, archly-neutered lexicon that trembles in fear of causing offence to any given corner of society. To its critics this is a world ‘gone mad’ where the presumption is that it is no longer acceptable to say ‘boo!’ to a silly goose.
To be candid this is neither jargon nor dialect. What is political English? That’s a great question. Is it a form of English with a lot of unfulfilled promises? Really great question. Basically, I say to you, this has all the hallmarks of a deliberate manipulation, both of standard and colloquial English as post-truthfully promulgated in all alt. truth sincerity and in such a manner that might allow for the reinterpretation and the consequent headroom and, yes, elbow room naturally required by politicians and other propagandists of that ilk, and I want to be perfectly clear about this, to answer the question, this has the propensity to tell us so little at such great length going forward and succeed in having it all ways is a Great British not to say Orwellian heritage, so, if you are still with me at this late stage in the sentence, which I know we can all surely agree is much later than previous politicians committed to and, indeed, led us all to believe, then the whole nation, especially hard working families will appreciate the professional diligence with which this matter and many others are now being addressed.
You may think that this might bring the English language into disrepute. I could not possibly comment.
One’s received pronunciation dubbed with a royal seal of approval. This category of very British English is adorned with the suggestion that one’s language is one of the crown jewels, an insignia of status and, by inference, a possession of the state. It is a matter of schooling: this subject is English, your Majesty.
Although not a direct reference to royal accent (or nationality) it is interesting to compare and contrast early and latter-reign recordings of Queen Elizabeth II. One will hear the royal ‘we’ and the ‘my husband and I’ accent relax as the jubilees rack up. This clearly demonstrates that the highness of fine-quality Standard English does indeed move with the times. But is that an echo of the demotic masses in the realm?
Strictly speaking, Queen’s English is only applied when there is a female monarch. Coz primogeniture rooled UK and another King’s English is always waiting in line.
Well-educated, correctly delivered, and properly pronounced Standard English innit. Of the type spoken in the posh bits of southern England, natch.
Or SAfrE for the pedantic. Send an SAE for fuller details or, better yet, see: South African English.
“In controlled conditions scientists writing with communicable clarity via the medium of English for and to fellow brainiacs will, by the laws of probability, employ a core lexicon of Gobbledegook-friendly lexemes which at all minima seek to obfuscate detailed explicatory requirement of any concept and tend toward the overly erudite end of any hypothesized spectrum.”
This is way beyond geek-talk. Scientific English harks back to the day when alchemists enhanced the unfathomable in pursuit of their dark arts. It’s genius. A quasi-secret language hiding in plain sight. We could understand it if we could only be bothered. A non-scientific formula that turns English it into a kind of mumbo-jumbo. Pure genius.
Scots is the Scottish form of the English language, rich with variations, dialects, patters and slangs, from the borders and the lowlands, by the way, to the highlands and islands. Scots is a wild and beautiful English language hybrid.
Some Scots speak Gaelic. Gàidhlig, if you prefer.
Scots phrases that even now offer a wee stereotype of a proud nation. Och aye the noo.
Liver birds loud ’n’ lairy ’cross the Merseysound, dockers, sailors, scally scallywag Beatles, and everyone’s a comedian, la. No wonder the dialect and accent of ‘the Pool’ are in a right tasty old stew. And a ship’s biscuit. Liverpool was always more than a port, and now you’ll never walk alone in a metropolitan district.
Lobscouse, often served up as scouse, and from whence Scouse and Scousers takes both name and identity, is a fortifying stew of meat and vegetables, well-favoured by bold sailors of yesteryear and, on the tongue of Lex Liverpool, a rich meaty metaphor.
It is what it is. And that may have to be enough.
The island-city state of Singapore insists on conducting business in English. The Singaporean government even sponsors ‘Speak Good English’ campaigns in schools and through the more or less state-controlled media. Yet while English is the language of the politically ambitious establishment, arse luck, the word on the Singaporean street is Singlish: a vibrant creole of English, Malay, Hokkien (a Chinese dialect) and other languages of the region; an eloquent expression of Singapore’s multi-cultural history.
Singlish was born, with independence, in 1965. OK lah. OK lah!
Non-Standard English at its best and worst. Slangs, and they are manifold, are there to serve all the informal, unconventional and not entirely virtuous language and content needs of English-users.
Slangs represent the personal and private pleasures of our language. Tucked away in respectable drawers when public propriety demands better behaviour.
Scrawled in several hands on the cubicle walls that form the cover of the imaginary prog-rock classic Apocryphal Graffiti you might discern the following:
It’s a perfect demonstration of what happens to English when it ventures beyond poetic licence. Songlish is that kinda nonsense English (and American English) that somehow, in context, makes some kinda sense. So, here’s a small but familiar selection for your popular singalong pleasure.
- Chim Chim Cher-ee
- Da Doo Ron Ron
- De Do Do Do, De Da Da Da
- Dum Dum Diddle
- Goo Goo Barabajagal
- La La La
- Mah Na Mah Na
- Na Na Na
- Ob-La-Di Ob-La-Da
- Rama Lama Ding Dong
- Sha La La La
- Wig Wam Bam
- Yummy Yummy Yummy
South African English/SAE
South Africa is a multilingual nation with a complicated history. According to the 5th and current Constitution of South Africa, which came into effect in 1997 South African English is 1 of 11 officially recognised languages; and whilst SAE subsists as a minority first language it is, paradoxically, the de facto first language of commerce and government business. It’s complicated. Ag shame.
Ja no, well fine hey.
El conflation of Spanish and English in those places where the two languages meet to wrestle and love. Lexiconistas unite!
Considered by the many who should know better to be the correct form of English. Standards must be maintained even when registered with a regional accent.
Standard Scottish English
Standard English with Scottish accents.
How the Voice of America spreads the word.
Older and of far greater importance than Written English.
What happens when English and Tagalog mix mix. Tagalog (I don’t need to tell you, it’s for the other reader) is a widely-spoken language with origins in the Philippines.
The non-standard majority of ‘Norn Iron’ words are probably from Ulster Scots. Ay, that says more than enough about the feckin’ feckers, feck ’em. Least said, soonest mended.
See: American English
Over by there the towns, villages and valleys of old South Wales are heaving with idiosyncratic idiom is it? Wenglish it is. Welsh English. Full of it they are. The identification of the dialect and the coining of ‘Wenglish’ are credited to folk-linguist John Edwards of Abercynon, a village in the Cynon Valley. Tidy.
Not all South Walians speak Welsh – Cymraeg if you prefer – but the Welsh language certainly influences the syntactic construction of Wenglish.
Hugely, vastly, wonderfully, magnificently important yet it can never be as good as Spoken English.
Any English anywhere in the world that isn’t actually English English.
See: Globish/Global English
And that’s it. The dog has been walked and I need a drink. Thanks for your company and conversation. Until next time. Cheers.