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The Daltaí Boards » Archive: 2005- » 2006 (January-February) » Archive through February 24, 2006 » Foreign Accent « Previous Next »

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Fear_na_mbróg
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Username: Fear_na_mbróg

Post Number: 1018
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 03:59 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

To those of us here whose native tongue is English (myself included):

We all know when we hear some-one speak English with a "foreign accent". For instance, most of us (if not all) have heard a french person speak English with a recognisible "french accent". While this person may speak intelligible English, and while they may be quite able to communicate proficiently, we still label them as having a "foreign accent". However, when we hear a Welsh person, or a Scottish person, or even an Irish person speak English, we don't consider their accent to be "foreign"... we just see it as another way of talking.

There's an article on Wikipedia called Non-native pronunciations of English which discusses this. I'll take a quick excerpt:

quote:

Native speakers of Chinese:

/r/ is often pronounced as [l] or sometimes [w]. Speech is usually non-rhotic (more common if schooled in Hong Kong because of British influence). /n/ and /l/ are also often confused since these two sounds are becoming allophones in Cantonese.
/v/, often pronounced as either [w] or [f].
'wh', pronounced as [w] (this is the case for many native speakers of English as well).
Dental fricatives usually become labiodental.



Taking all this into account, it seems to me that in order for a person to fully learn a new language, they have to adopt all the new sounds of that language and use them correctly, which would involve adopting the native accent when they speak that language.

So if I was to learn French, there's no point in me keeping my Dublin accent -- I should impersonate exactly how the French people speak. Only when I perfect the accent and way of speaking will people think of me as "properly fluent", or even mistake me to be a native speaker of French.

This leads me on to something I find interesting. . .

Take the English pronunciation of the words: then there this thought think

I myself am a native speaker of English, yet I don't pronounce the "th"'s properly -- I pronounce these words respectively as: den der dis tawt tink

If a French person says "I sink" instead of "I think", then we say it is incorrect pronunciation... but people aren't so bold to say as much when an Irish person says "Yeah, I'll take dat one der" -- they just accept that that's how we speak.

Which leads me on to my next point:

All of Ireland, all the Irish people, spoke Irish at one stage. All of our names were Irish. All of the Kelly's, the Kennedy's, the Healy's, were Ó Ceallaigh, Ó Cinnéide, Ó hÉilidhe... and we all spoke Irish to each other.

Consider the Dublin accent right now. At one time, this people was speaking Irish. Would it be legitimate to say that, the way we speak English in Dublin now, is simply us speaking a foreign language with our native accent? Specifically -- that we are speaking English with our native Irish accent, and that when we started speaking English, we neglected to adopt the new sounds and emulate them correctly?

Furthermore, could I go on to say that, when a Dubliner speaks Irish in his native English accent (like myself), that he is in fact speaking Irish "legimately", because the accent with which he speaks is the one with which his ancestors spoke Irish?

If I spent a while in a Gaeltacht and copied the natives as best I could (and I believe I have an aptitude for picking up languages), then I'd probably end up speaking Irish with a West Coast accent. People would see my pronunciation as "legitimate". The overall question is:

Would I be just as legitimate if I continued to speak Irish with my Dublin accent?

Little anecdote:
I was in America a little while back, and it was the first time I'd been imersed in a people who spoke English with a different accent. Even after a week I saw myself trying to copy them, saying "huricin" instead of "huricane"... I wonder if this is a sign that I'd be good a "foreign languages". . . ?

To those of you here that speak a load of languages (Jonas comes to mind), do you speak (or perhaps even aim to speak) these languages with the proper accent? Would you emulate a french accent when speaking French? Would you emulate a russian accent when speaking Russian?

Is it easy to keep these accents seperate in your head? I believe Aonghus said at one time that he speaks English with a Dublin accent, and that he speaks German with a Berlin accent; are both these accents completely separate in your mind?

Fáilte Roimh Cheartúcháin
Correct me for the love of God... I'm a perfectionist! : )

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 80.93.5.45
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 04:39 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Dubliners are speaking a form of Hiberno English which has enough sounds similar to Standard English to be comprehensible.

It is a seductive logic that one speaks englsih with the same sounds as ones ancestors spoken irish with, but untrue.

http://www.hiberno-english.com/pron.htm

here is a site on H-Englsih. Not it does not cover everyone, as the vowels I use nativly are all almsot the same as some dialects of irish, simple pure plain ones, and I seem to lack of the phones, but it allows for a range.

Now these are a set I produced for consonants of irish

http://www.inneall.net/phones.htm

There are different even if they are similar in writing. Can you make /R'/? Can you make a slender z? They are simalr. They are not native to your Englihs, but the first was once an irish phone. Do you do /R/ or /RR/ even?
r a nasalised/non nasalised distinction for 'mh' and 'bh'?

Sure there are features, but they are not like discreat blocks that one retains unadultrated features from one language change to the next. IN grammar it is generally thought of as there been an interlanguage created by the learner. Trying not to create an interlanguage legacy is making my irish learning take years. We all have irish legacies in our english.

Just my opinion...

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Max
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Username: Max

Post Number: 345
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 07:16 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

The foreign accent is both in the mouth of the speaker and the ear of the listener:

I've never lived in any English speaking country. As a consequence, I've never been influenced by any "particular" English, but roughly by both British and American English.
My English accent is a mix of British and American features.
Now the funny thing is that when I talk to American people, they think I'm British, and vice versa, except when the person knows well enough both accents and can tell my accent is neither genuinely British nor genuinely American and then thinks I'm Scandinavian...

This made me realize that in fact, our ear only pays attention to "foreign features", the "native features" beeing "unheard"...

The opposite happened with German: I only talk with people from the region around Freiburg im Breisgau. As a consequence I've picked up the Alemannic accent. But when people know you're French, they don't expect you to speak with a dialectal accent:
me: "Werner, hasch' kein fass?" (hast du kein fass?)
woman: "Werner, hasch' g'hört? Der spri[x]t Dialekt!"


>>Is it easy to keep these accents seperate in your head?

It is not easy or difficult... I'd say it just is...

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Riona
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Username: Riona

Post Number: 48
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 08:20 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Fear_na mbrog a chara,
To truth you are brilliant, it is something I've always wondered about with Irish people, I never thought about it with anyone else. I tell people that poke fun at me for pronouncing my ths "wrong" that people really pronounce them that way. I always thought that it was because when people were first learning English a long time ago, they were used to Irish and so since there is not a th sound in Irish they just didn't pronounce it "correctly", (oh please tell me if I have been wrong so I can stop giving people the wrong information if that is what is happening.) Another thing that you said which I noticed and thought was extra important was the point about falling into copying other people's accents when you're around them. I have that problem to an unprecidented extent. I'll start talking like people on a show if I've been watching it for a bit, stuff like that. The problem here is that I worry ever so much about the idea that if I ever can go to Ireland that I'll have a hard time talking like a "normal American" and everyone will think that I'm making fun of them by talking with my borrowed Irish accent, but I wouldn't be making fun of course. I talk that way so often anyways.

Beir bua agus beannacht.

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Pádraig
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Username: Pádraig

Post Number: 400
Registered: 09-2004
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 10:31 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Riona,

I don't think your problem is a problem ar bith. Quite to the conyrary, I would say you have a good ear for languages and that you might learn quite a bit from immersion experiences.

Ní maith é an duine a bheith leis féin.

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Julia
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Username: Julia

Post Number: 2
Registered: 01-2006
Posted on Monday, February 13, 2006 - 11:28 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

very interesting questions & observations, Fear_na_mbróg.

When learning a new language, I think it makes sense to learn it with as close to a native accent as possible. (I remember a Spanish teacher cringing at the memory of a student who would walk into her class and say, Hola!, pronouncing the H.)

I don't think switching between accents is a particularly difficult problem when you're speaking different languages, more a matter of practice. people often even switch between accents or dialects within their native language. (think the term for this is code-switching, if my memories of Linguistics 101 serve me. Resident linguists?) i know my accent shifts depending on my audience--my "natural" accent, my more local Hawaiian accent, my sort of horrifying broad American accent that comes out when I talk to people with whom I went to school in California...add in three years of life in Dublin, and I'm a code-switching mess! But it's not just an American phenomenon...had a good friend from Cork whose accent always "thickened" when she called home on the weekend. Think it's just a matter of adapting to fit different situations or expectations.

Fear's example of a French accent in English struck a chord...I remember hearing several Irish colleagues all speak Irish at a conference, before I had studied the language much. It was *very* odd, because they were suddenly all speaking in a language I didn't understand, but their accents hadn't changed at all. They didn't *sound* different. The only way I could explain it to Americans was to ask them to imagine if they knew a whole bunch of people with French accents who always spoke English. And then you heard them speak French...

Which makes me wonder why so many people seem to think your Irish is wrong if you speak with a Dublin accent. I've heard people say there isn't a Dublin accent in proper Irish, but I've also heard my fair share of Dubs speak as Gaeilge and quite like the singularities of pronunciation and expression... so what *do* people think about Gaeilge le blás BÁC?

FRC - Fáilte Roimh Cheartúcháin

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Max
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Username: Max

Post Number: 346
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 07:31 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

>>people often even switch between accents or dialects within their native language. (think the term for this is code-switching, if my memories of Linguistics 101 serve me. Resident linguists?)

1/ dialect:
Dialects can be defined as languages close to one another, but with characteristic features not allowing intercomprehension. So that if you switch dialects, basically you switch languages.
(Ex: Norman vs Lorrain)

2/ dialectal variants of a language:
If a language spreads over different dialectal areas, the people from these areas will dye it with features of their own dialect. This will affect mostly the pronunciation, but also to a lesser extent the lexicon and the grammar. This does not prevent intercomprehension.
(Ex: Norman French vs Lorraine French)

3/ code switching:
That is the fact of switching language from a sentence to another or even within a sentence. This supposes that the "code switcher" is not just bilingual but also belongs to a bilingual community.
(Ex: French/Alsatian switching)


>>had a good friend from Cork whose accent always "thickened" when she called home on the weekend.

It happens to me too automatically when I talk to people who have a Vosgean accent.

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 213.197.150.66
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 08:26 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Fhir na mbróg, a chara

I wish I could tell you you are right - but alas, you are plainly wrong. I have sifted my local National library and there is something for you. The book is called "A Handbook of Varieties of English" by Mouton de Gruyter. So in the chapter on Irish English, there is plain evidence that there is no such thing as unified "Hiberno-English". There 3 different things - one on eastern coast, the other one in South-West and West, and third one in historical province of Ulster. Ulster English has the biggest imprint of Scots and English of Midlands. The East Coast variety came from South-West of England. Only the South and West (encompassing Cork, Kerry and Galway) is called contact area where genuine influence of vernacular is most pronounced. Therefore there is no basis for claim that Dublin speak is anything close to Irish phonology, especially bearing in mind that there was a major pronunciation shift in the last 20 years in Dublin

Just a small quote from the book:

..the major instance of language change in present-day Ireland is undoubtely the shift in pronounciation of Dublin English. To understand the workings of this shift one must realise that in the course of the 1980s and 1990s the city of Dublin ... underwent an unprecedented expansion in population size and in relative prosperity ... The immigrants to the city ... formed a group of socially mobile, weak-tie speakers and their section of the city's population has been a key locus for language change ... fashionable speakers began to move away in their speech from their perception of popular Dublin English, a classic case of dissociation in an urban setting.

So the dreaded "dart" English now spreading fast in the whole country has nothing to do with indiginous dialect. It is more a lame imitation of British and especially American pronunciation featured on TV screens and in cinemas. It is a latter day's Dublin invention to show off (WE, the Dubliners vs THEM, rural blokes), and has nothing to do with Irish. The Irish of rural surroundings of Dublin has more of resemblance to original Irish phonology, but this thing is dying fast

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 80.93.5.45
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 08:32 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Much of the Irishisation of Dublin was due to country speakers coming to the city over the last 250 years. Much of the traditional anti-'culchie' atitute may have stemmed from the native Dubliners (British) atitude towards the peasants (Irish) outside the walls

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Breacban
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Username: Breacban

Post Number: 170
Registered: 11-2004
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 09:32 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Well i dont know about dublin english and how close it comes to the irish, but I would have to say that dart irish is only heard on the dart. It is definitely not heard in the labour exchange in thomas street (in front of the counter anyway!!)
Cork and kerry hib. english closely resemble their irish counterparts. The same in donegal. I would guess that english in most parts of ireland probably resembled the irish pronociation as irish died out as the venacular in relatively recent times.

If those fellows in the Dept of folklore or whatever in UCD got up off their arses and digitalised the recordings of some of the "lost" dialects things would be a lot clearer to people and they could draw proper conclusions. I dont know who Mouton was but i would say he was a bit of a bluffer.

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 09:51 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Bhreacbain

quote:

I dont know who Mouton was but i would say he was a bit of a bluffer.



There is no contradiction between what you said and what stands in the book. So I don't get your point!?

Concerning dart - it is not only about "r". Some changes are not very perceprible to insiders, like use of velarised (dark) "l" in English, although tradition of Hiberno-English pronunciation was to use neutral (light) "l" indifferently. Or for example change of the onset of [au] diftongue (word "mouth") from [a] sound to [ae] like sound of BBC English "cat". Even English is not stable, it is changing. So it is ridiculous for Dubliners to claim "Irish sound" if last indiginous Éreannaí used to live in BÁC 800 years ago, whereas subsequent immigrants from rural Ireland quickly merged with locals adopting their pronunciation. The English itself has changed a lot since the times of the Pale, so the changes in sounds in Dublin more monitored what happened across the Irish sea and not what happened in Mayo or Kerry.

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 09:53 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Hello? A 'Dawt' like Englihs is becoming the native language and dialect of Ireland. And it is happening fast. Those from middle class Dublin backgrounds in my classes sound LESS 'POSH' than teenage girl one hears in the streets where I come from in the north west. In some places, jumps of 5 years yeilds large differcnes, as if there is 3 or 4 lingusitic generations rolled into one.

Yes they ahve some 'irish accent' to them, but in the case of the teenagers one buses I get onto (from the Nroth side fo Dublin), their vowels and consonats are home county British for the most part. The allophones may be hiberno english, and the pronounciaiton fot he r like in america may be there, but far from having a brogue, the irish will be able to scoff at brits for sounding common.

Irish selected for many features of english in contact situaitons. I think contact was wider than just 3 counties, but recall thet the cnage occured in a pre rail, pre road, and pre mass media world. they were gettign their english from somewhere.

One thing those books over play is the effect of native englihs on the development of hiberno englsih in the sesne that most englsih had to speak irish to interact with farmers etc. Thier children spoke irish. Most of them became monolinguals (if one coundts all the colonials that ever came here). It was in time that the whole country switched that english spoken by priests (native exemplars) as well as bilingual englsih decnedants (some middle class protestants) and native englsuih speakers (ascendancy) became really important.

I'm not disagreeing with Rómán, only given the many irish words where I grew up, I cannot beleive that it is a cut and dry situation

The Royal irish on Dawson has Doegan recordings of local dialects, but they are a) dedoing the place and b) not sure how to get you the recordings. Wankers.

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Fear_na_mbróg
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Username: Fear_na_mbróg

Post Number: 1020
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 10:09 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

One thing I have sort of difficulty with is slendarizing the last consonant to get the plural. Take the word:

focal (which means "word")

The plural is focail (which means "words").

If I speak Irish with my Dublin accent (the same accent with which I speak English daily), then there's no audibile difference between focal and focail. The only way I could get the "slenderness" across is my putting the stress on the second syllable: "fo-KILL".

However, native speakers have no difficulty expressing this "slenderness".

Something strange comes to mind...

When I was at secondary school, I had a very good Irish teacher (who is the reason why I'm decent at Irish now). He was a Dub, through and through. He spoke Irish fluently and quickly... with the same Dublin accent he spoke English. Made me think, "How did some-one become so proficient at a language without picking up the accent also?". The only way I could become as good as him is if I was imersed in Gaeilge; but if I was imersed in Gaeilge, I'd pick up the accent too! I'd be speaking English with a Dublin accent and speaking Irish with a Corca Dhuibhne accent!

There are times in Gaeilge where I have to rearrange the stress in order to get a sound out. For instance, take the two of these:

Ní deireann...
Ní déarfainn...

I have to almost pause my breath to get across the "h" sound in "déarfainn". If I don't pause, then there's no audibile difference.

Fáilte Roimh Cheartúcháin
Correct me for the love of God... I'm a perfectionist! : )

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 80.93.5.45
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 10:23 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Correct me for the love of God... I'm a perfectionist! : )

Ní deireann /N'i: d'ir'aN/
Ní déarfainn /N'i: d'e:rin'/

Not in fonetix then...

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Max
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Username: Max

Post Number: 348
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 12:00 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

>> but if I was imersed in Gaeilge, I'd pick up the accent too!

How do you know?

>>How did some-one become so proficient at a language without picking up the accent also?

Some people are just better at picking up accents than others.
Once the articulations of the mother tongue are acquired, people seem to be more or less capable of "stepping aside" from them.

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Lughaidh
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Username: Lughaidh

Post Number: 1243
Registered: 01-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 12:41 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Ní deireann /N'i: d'er'əN/
Ní déarfainn /N'i: d'e:rhiN'/

Tír Chonaill abú!

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Max
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Username: Max

Post Number: 350
Registered: 05-2005
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 02:01 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

deireann /d'er'@N/
déarfainn /d'e:r@N'/

(Gaeilge Chois Fhairrge)

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 80.93.5.45
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 02:18 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

opppss

spelt that wrong...
Ní deireann /N'i: d'ir'aN/
Ní déarfainn /N'i: d'e:rin'/

I'm so careless, it is hard to tell if i ever get any of them right...

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Jonas
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Username: Jonas

Post Number: 852
Registered: 08-2004
Posted on Tuesday, February 14, 2006 - 06:24 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

This is a very interesting topic! I'd like to make some small points.

"To those of you here that speak a load of languages (Jonas comes to mind), do you speak (or perhaps even aim to speak) these languages with the proper accent? Would you emulate a french accent when speaking French? Would you emulate a russian accent when speaking Russian?"

Thank you, it's very flattering to be thought of in this situation. :-) The answer is no, definitely not. In every language except Swedish and Finnish, you will immediately notice that I'm not a native speaker. Rather than speaking about accent in this regard, I'd mention the intonation, the pace and other things that a linguist is more familiar with than I am.

However, I can produce a fairly decent accent in some foreign languages. In normal situation, few would mistake me for an Englishman, a German, a Frenchman or a Russian. In those four languages, I know the accent (and other things) well enough to copy them quite well. In a short discussion, I could probably fool at least some people. The thing is, it feels just like that, as if I'm fooling people into believing I'm something I'm not. I have no problem speaking about ten different accents in Swedish (I've been at the theatre for some years), but I never do it except for fun.

This leads me on to another related topic. Whether we are picked out as foreigners and native speakers is not only related to our accent. English is my first and my best foreign language, Croatian is my ninth. Despite this, I have noticed an interesting thing. Native speakers of English never take me for another native English speaker. It has happened a few times, but always in a given setting. Surrounded by people from Ireland, someone who is not from Ireland has mistaken me for an Irishman. Part of the reason is probably that in such a setting, the person has expected me to be Irish. Another explanation might be that I speak with a bit of an Irish accent when everybody around me does. This has happened two or three times, and I've spoken to hundreds or thousands of native English speakers. It's obvious that I will never be mistaken for a native English speaker.

It's different in Croatian - I've quite often been mistaken for being a native speaker of Croatian by other Croats. My Croatian is not that good, not at all. The explanation, as I see it, lies in the fact that it's very rare indeed for foreingers to learn Croatian. Few adult native speakers of English have not heard all kinds of foreigners speaking English with an accent. They are used to the fact that foreigners learn their language (in fact, most native English speakers expect us to learn their language and some even require it of us...). Croats don't expect foreigners to speak Croatian. If you speak Croatian, you're probably a Croat. Add to this that there's a huge Croatian diaspora including many native speakers who might have a slight accent influenced by the country in which they live.

To sum up this point: It's not just about how well we speak a foreign language or how well we master its accent. Other factors will influence the perception of whether we are native speakers or not.


Julia made this interesting point
"When learning a new language, I think it makes sense to learn it with as close to a native accent as possible. (I remember a Spanish teacher cringing at the memory of a student who would walk into her class and say, Hola!, pronouncing the H.)"

While Fear na mBróg wrote this
"Take the English pronunciation of the words: then there this thought think

I myself am a native speaker of English, yet I don't pronounce the "th"'s properly -- I pronounce these words respectively as: den der dis tawt tink

If a French person says "I sink" instead of "I think", then we say it is incorrect pronunciation... but people aren't so bold to say as much when an Irish person says "Yeah, I'll take dat one der" -- they just accept that that's how we speak."

These quotes illustrate what some, especially teachers, perceive to be correct. There are native speakers of English who pronounce "th" as either "d" or "t". Likewise, there are native speakers of Spanish who do pronounce the "h". Yet both of these are often considered wrong. Just like many Irishmen, I pronounce "th" just as Fear na mBróg describes. In my case, it will be attributed to the that I'm a learner - it's a mistake I make. As was rightly pointed out, few would tell an Irishman that he's wrong to make the same "mistake". Part of the reason, I'd guess, is that people are used to English with an Irish accent and think of that accent as native English - and of course it is. If we Scandinavians started speaking English instead of our own languages (Heaven forbid!!), our accent would in the end be classified as native English as well. It's not so much about the accents as such, it's about the way they are perceived.

Let me illustrate with a short story. I've lived in Helsinki for about 8 years now, and during that time I've been seriously interested in five different girls. All five of them come from only two places (none of them being my own home town), situated quite far from each other. Sometimes when I'm asked to pick the most beautiful Swedish accents, I immediately mention these two towns. In my ears, they really are the best sounding accents there are in Swedish. Most probably, I've been influenced by the fact that these five girls have spoken with those two accents. A few weeks ago, I attended a party together with a stunning blonde girl who had just got back from Paris where she had been working as a model. I dare to say that she could walk into any club in Dublin or London and every guy would turn his head. However, her accent is terrible. Ugly beyond belief, in fact. When she opens her mouth, part of the magic around her definitely disappears, and I'm not alone in saying that. In other words, our perceptions of accents might influence the way we think about persons, and our thought about persons may influence our perceptions of accents.

This post is starting to get to long, so I will cut it short here. I hope this very interesting discussion continues. :-)

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 80.93.5.45
Posted on Wednesday, February 15, 2006 - 03:40 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

So, cén sórt fuaim a dhéanann sí nuair a bhíonn a béal líon?

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 11:42 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/neachtain2

this blas is not too bad considering is a native newyorker

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David Webb (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 220.163.32.221
Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 01:28 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Well, Jonas, as an Englishman, I have no hesitation in saying that to pronounce th as d or t is incorrect. I am in China at the moment, and some schools would definitely object to a "native speaker" teaching the Chinese students that sort of English. Although this Irish English is spoken natively by Irish people, the incorrect pronunciation of some letters reflects the difficulties Irish people had in learning English a long time ago. In effect, what was a mistake back then is being touted as "correct native English" now merely because this brand of English is spoken natively. A parallel would be the awful so-called English spoken in the Indian subcontinent, which sounds like Hindi. This is a native language to many millions of Indians, but I cannot accept its equivalence to the English spoken by Englishmen. The point of this thread is this: what if Irish learners make mistakes in their pronunciation now and then become fluent speakers, and possibly bring up a new generation of native speakers speaking with a non-genuninely native accent? I read an article about an Irish speaking school in Dublin where on the children said that no one in his school could pronounce slender r. Does that mean that an absence of slender r is now correct Irish?

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Fear_na_mbróg
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Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 02:12 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Consider the English language. Where exactly is it "native"?

a) The place where it came from?
b) There place where it is most spoken natively?

English may have originated in England... but the language is in use natively in huge parts of the world. There are far more native speakers of English in the USA than there are in England.

As for how Chinese students are taught English... books and classrooms will only get you so far; the way to learn a language is to speak it and have people speak it back to you. I may have some dodgy Irish pronunciations, but they'll soon sort themselves out once I'm immersed in a people that speak the language.

If I lived in England for a while, I'd start pronouncing the "th"'s properly, as I would pick up the accent, the slang, etc...

From my own experience, the most variety I've seen in English is within England itself! People in parts of England pronounce "three" as "free" -- they're pronouncing their "th" as an "f" (while I prefer a "t" sound). Also their grammar; you'll hear people from Wolverhampton say "You was" as opposed to "you were".

So what exactly is correctly pronounced English? Washington DC? London? Dublin... ?

Fáilte Roimh Cheartúcháin
Correct me for the love of God... I'm a perfectionist! : )

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Robert (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 06:11 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

"I read an article about an Irish speaking school in Dublin where on the children said that no one in his school could pronounce slender r. Does that mean that an absence of slender r is now correct Irish?"

Its not that they have a problem with the slender r, but that they produce zero sounds the same as natives. Not one. Period.

Children like those cannot be 'natives' as there is no speech community with a dynamic comparable to the creation of Hiberno-Englsih in ireland. Those kids never use what they learn outside of the school. I have heard kids in Dublin with irish that is spoken with waht Rómán calls a 'lame' home county accent. As to waht they were communicating, I filled that in when they switched to English.

Anyway, there is too much empasis put on the vague term 'accent'. In the newer recordings I am making of A 's A, I have based it on Erris almost entirly, including their post alveolar ls and ns. the idea is that the phonemes will be as native as possible, but rythm and intonation along with what used to be called allophones are less native (actualy intonation will be neutral so that it will fall within native range). In that case the important phones are Mayo, and the less important ones are Leitrim. For a French speaker of English, they are making sounds that are whithin a range of simialrity that allows for comprehension, but have enought phones disimilar that one notices the difference. As Max and Jonas said, accent has a lot to do with how one percieves elements the stream of sound, some of which are not objectivly there.

Kids with that type of irish i doubt would be able to speak to a native, or at least an older one. Many Dublin learners come form a background with the plainest consonants I have ever heard anywhere. Some 'upper working class-middle class' kids have very little palatisation nor velarisation nor consonants of either type. Listen to Superman on TG4, Superman's son has to be heard to be believed.

The interlangauges that learners create are so simplified that only the mentally retarded (or rather only the psychotic) could stick using them as a life long langauge without making them more complex.

Maybe we sound get away from the sounds and talk about the qualitative depth of usage of a langauge -the idiom, the semantics, and the socially meaningful tcodes and erms that only a select groups gets. When a group of people start to use a lanaguge for their full range of expression and bring up kids in it and do all other business, then those born of parents who ahave done the same must be natives, as they are of that dialect.

As to the question of 'right' English etc, that is a question of how politcal you want to make the issue via standardisation and via someone who can enforce the standard. In this day and age, a native english speaker should be able to code in the standard, plus their native. Failure to do so can mean a potential socioeconomic sidelining. The kids of many gale-skulls as they say, cannot shift to any other 'coding', such as of the gaeltacht, nor have they the full fleuncy of a native, nor are they part of a stable speech community, nor in most cases did their parents speak it to them from the moment of birth, nor can their community speak it.

If they did all of the above and started a new community their kids might be natives of a new form fo irish. Think of it like this -would I be a native speaker of finnish if I went to school and learned it? If 250 of may fiends all did the same and made an English/Finnish mixed dialect and moved to the Atlas mountains in Africa and set of a community, would we be Finnish natives? Would our kids? What sort if Finnish would it be, or would it be a new language? If it were cognate with Finnish living dialects, maybe it would be considered a dialect of said langue.

So, I think that there are many soft isobar boundaries here, and the answer is no so clear cut.

As for sounds, listen to Chaucer. Some senatces are readily understandable, even due to sound changes, other not. http://academics.vmi.edu/english/audio/audio_index.html

There was a better page with a women who sounded kind of Scandinavian like when speaking middle englsih, but I cannot find it
http://academics.vmi.edu/english/audio/audio_index.html

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Max
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Post Number: 363
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Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 07:53 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

>>If I lived in England for a while, I'd start pronouncing the "th"'s properly, as I would pick up the accent, the slang, etc...

I'd like to ask the question again: How do you know?

To pick up the accent of a language you are learning is one thing: is comes with the rest of it (yet it shows that some people are better than others); but to pick up another accent in your mother tongue is quite another.

When you learn a language, you learn the sounds of that language, there are methods for that, and even if you don't master them (or all of them), you can know them theoretically.

When it comes to your mother tongue, you already know the sounds, or so you think. But in fact there are plenty of subtleties that your ear just don't perceive.
I'll draw the example from my own experience in French:
I was born and grew up in the Vosges (North-east of France) and I have acquired a specific phonological system, which includes a distinction between long and short and between mid-close and mid-open vowels. I've been living in Paris for 8 years now. The long/short distinction doesn't exist in Paris, and the mid-close/mid-open vowels are not distributed the same way (for a lot of people the distinction doesn't even exist).
For one thing, it took me quite a long time to even realize that the vowels weren't pronounced the same way: my ear would just categorize the sounds following my own system and not that of the speaker. And for another thing, even now that I know all this, that I'm a linguist and that I pay a great deal of attention to all this, my ears continue (maybe less strongly than before but still) to categorize the sounds following my own system (I only hear rather clearly when people talk slowly); and I am absolutely unable to pronounce the "real" Parisian way: because I'm not aware of half the subtle distinctions between Parisian French and my French.

So, all I'm saying is: it's quite an easy thing to say that one "would pick up an regional accent if immersed", but it's quite another to actually pick it up...

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Max
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Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 08:21 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Have you guys seen the 5th episode of the 1st season of "Sex & The city" called "The power of female sex"?

In this episode, Carrie dates a French guy called Gilles. Gilles speaks in English but utters one or two sentences in French.

For those who saw it, did you notive anything about Gilles's accent?

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Ceolmhar
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Posted on Thursday, February 16, 2006 - 10:11 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

I lived in Scotland for 2 years and never picked up the accent. In fact, I think my accent became more Dub. The only thing I picked up was 'Aye', but we say that in Ireland anyway.

Currently learning Irish and English. Please bear with me.

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 05:48 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Rhobeirt (joke), a chara!

What kind of pidgeon English was it? Is it only me, or there were others who struggled with that text?

Btw - this was an example of learned English. I imagine BÁC's Irish is of comparable quality. Do you want to speak Irish like this, a Schuhmainn (joke, again).

Le meas

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Jonas
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 05:59 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

"Well, Jonas, as an Englishman, I have no hesitation in saying that to pronounce th as d or t is incorrect."

There's no doubt about that. And if you had been born in a different century, you would think it's incorrect to not pronounce the final "e" in words such as "here", "there", "came". And you would find it incorrect to pronounce the "ee" in "feel" and "meet" as a long "i"-sound [i:] instead of a long "e"-sound [e:]. The pronunciation of "ea" as [i:] instead of [ea] or "i" as [ai] instead of [i] in many words are other examples. All these features were once incorrect, but are today considered features of "correct" English.

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 07:03 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Eonais, a chara!

There is no way you can compare vowel shift in English, which happened in the whole area where English is spoken with local (Irish) pronunciation of 'th'. There was no "shift" of those in Ireland whatsoever, the Irish simply never pronounced the sound properly in the first place. So you can't expect this "shift" to spread, as there was no shift. On the other hand - the spread of dart English shows that abondonment of local pronunciation features can be rash and fast. In my understanding Irish "dis, dat, tink" will be gone in 50 years time.

Le meas

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted From: 220.163.32.221
Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 07:21 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Jonas, as Róman said, there is difference between English in England - spoken by the original people - and English in a country that is not Anglo-Saxon where English was imperfectly learned a long time ago. You chose to ignore the example of Indian English. Another example that I have read about - I don't know enough Irish to research this myself, but I read about it on Linguistlist (Lowlands-L archives, Feb 18th 2001) - is Shaws Road Gaeltacht Irish. Apparently, there are now native speakers of SRG Irish. One poster explained:

"In the Irish of the SRG, the entire system of palatisation and velarisation has been severely compromised, and indeed even aspiration and nasalisation (i.e., mutation and eclipsis) is not always present. Further, most plural pronouns have been lost so that "agaibh" (at you, plural) is simply replaced as per English with "agat" (at you,
singular)."

So, according to your theory, Jonas, this is now correct Irish.

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 07:54 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

In my not humble opinion the biggest threat posed to Irish is this nannying atitude: we are so HAPPY, and glad (and we may make a festivity on that occasion) that somebody is makes an appearance to study Irish, that we do not dare to correct mistakes. It is precisely because of this desperation that language dignity has been lost. There should be some analogue of Académie Francaise who would stand up and say - this or that is plainly WRONG. I am not talking about harassing the dialect Irish (which was successfully pursued by educational establishment) but about sloppy Irish cultivated in urban Éire. Therefore all those cries to "modernise" (in effect pidgeonise) the language to make it simplier for learners arise. It is simply inimaginable that somebody would propose abolishing slender/broad distinction in any language where it exists. Or make rid of couple of cases. There is this false myth that making language simpler will make more people learn it. Bullshit - if somebody is interested - the language will be learned anyway. Witness the surging interest to Chinese, not simple language at all with unique challenge of writing.
What is needed now - going back to basics: revision of caighdeán where it is unjust to traditional dialects. Spellings of words like léighim, or tráigh should be restored the way they are pronounced. The verbal forms should be written how they function - so NO purging of Munster forms if they are genuine to the speaker. Some revisions of spelling should be useful. E.g. ugly "táimid" which DOES NOT exist at all in live speach bar in XVIII century literature, should be replaced with "támaoid" for Connacht and Ulster (that is whence "tá muid" makes appearance) or "táimíd" for Munster. The dual and dative (at least in singular) should be restored immediately and so on and so forth.

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Biniaimín
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 08:06 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Max wrote : "To pick up the accent of a language you are learning is one thing: is comes with the rest of it (yet it shows that some people are better than others); but to pick up another accent in your mother tongue is quite another."

My mother moved over from Ireland to England when she was about 18 or 19 I think. Within 2 years, she'd lost her Irish accent completely, and nobody could tell she wasn't English. It depends on the person, and the difference in the accents.

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Jonas
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 08:16 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

David, my point wasn't about what's correct. All languages change over time, including English. In fact, English has changed more than most other European languages. There have always been people arguing against new features of the language, but they have never had much succes.

I never said what's correct or not. On that topic, though, who decides what is correct? In case there would be more native speakers of this "Hindi-English" than of British English, then why should it be considered less correct?

As for the "original people" of England, they are late arrivals. The land now known as England has been populated by many peoples before the Anglo-Saxon tribes arrived. Besides, many of the people speaking English in England have Brythonic-speaking ancestors if we go back in history. The "mistakes" they made, together with the many "mistakes" made by the English when trying to speak Norman French, is what has contributed to the English language as it is spoken in England today.

(Message edited by Jonas on February 17, 2006)

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Max
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 10:02 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

>> It depends on the person, and the difference in the accents.

Absolutely.
(This does not invalidate my point though...)

There are plenty of "British accents". You can lose characteristic Irish features and gain characteristic British features. People will interpret your new accent as being British, but it doesn't mean it has become a genuine British accent: as I said, the listener's ears always tend to categorize the sounds into known features (sometimes wrongly) and fail to hear the subtle differences.

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David Webb (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Friday, February 17, 2006 - 04:50 pm:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

jonas, in relation to Anglo-Saxon, modern English is "incorrect" as you pointed out. But Anglo-Saxon is a dead language, and modern English, based on Anglo-Saxon with a lot of Latin, French and Norse (and no, the Brythonic ethnic substratum hardly affected the English language - name some Brythonic words in English!!), is the national language of the English nation, and the quality of the Englishes spoken round the world is for me assessed in relation to that. Yes, I am sure Americans view other Englishes in relation to American English and Australians in relation to Ozzie English etc. But all these are native Anglo-Saxon varieties of English. And in fact, Ireland is not a purely Celtic country either. I could accept - and do accept - Irish English as a genuine native variety of English. Not all Irish people pronounce th as t, and the Irish for the most part, ahem, don't speak any other language. Some members of the Indian elite grow up speaking Indian English as well as Hindi, but it is still a second language there, and even if it were not they do not have any European ancestors. And that fact is decisive for me. Good God! If the Irish had taken their language to Bombay during the British Empire, you would be telling us now to learn the Bombay dialect of Irish!

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Jonas
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Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 05:02 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Anglo-Saxon is dead and English is alive, of course. However, all of the changes I mentioned have taken place during the history of English well after the Norman conquest.

In case Shakespeare would return today, he would find the pronunction of a peasant in County Meath much closer to his own pronunciation than that of the queen or indeed anyone in London, Cambridge or Oxford. It would probably be very hard for him to understand RP English. So was Shakespeare's pronunciation wrong (and what about Chaucer, Caxton and Donne), or was that pronunciation correct as long as it was used in England but wrong when it's used in Ireland?

Whether speakers of English have European ancestors or not could hardly be more irrelevant. Language competence has nothing to do with genes. Besides, I doubt you can find one single country in the world in which the majority of the population genetically are mainly Anglo-Saxon. The area around the German-Danish border would be closest, but they certainly don't speak English.

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 06:20 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Eonais, a chara!

Never knew you to be demagogue, I am astonished. What is the point of your sophistic discussion (in a way self-pleasing), if the argument David is trying to support is that neo-Dublin Irish has no legitimacy as it is plainly wrong. There wasn't a change in Gaeltachts to abolish slender/broad distinction and the fact this happened in BÁC's gaelscoileanna doesn't mean there is something happening to Irish. It is a pure product of bad teaching, educational malpractice. There many useful categories in the language based on this distinction (plural vs singular, genitive vs nominative) so abolishing it makes language incomprehensible and ambiguous. Dublin's Irish is not some natural product of evolution of the Dublin dialect - there is no such thing since the times of the Pales - it is learned and, boy, sloppily learned mongrel of Munster-Connacht dialects with a couple of odd Ulster words. We know for sure that Leinster dialect was different from all of those. At times it was almost like Munster, at times Connacht - sometimes unique (practise to lenite some consonants and to eclipse other after the same preposition - a bit like in Cavan and Rinn). Current Dublin's Irish is not continuation of that, it is rather an akward and lame effort to ape Gaeilge of remaining Gaeltachts with some incomprehensible "rectifications". Let's go back to the beginning of XX century. The slogan was "canúint na daoine" - so let's follow it and COPY what is left in Gaeltacht and not invent some illegitimate schemes. Other option is to return to the language of Keating, because we know it was not corrupted at least.

Le meas (I felt like a firebrand cleric now - hmm interesting feeling I must admit :-) )

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David Webb (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 07:16 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

Jonas, you seem to be deliberately missing the point. Shakespeare's English in Shakespeare's day was the way English people in England spoke. Modern English is the way English people in England speak now. It is irrelevant that language changes - of course it does. If English people had started pronouncing th as t, that would be the correct English today. But a pronunciation only found among the descendants of Gaelic speakers in what is - sadly - today classed as a foreign country is just that: an offbeat pronunciation not found among the English nation. And it is OUR language after all. It matters not a whit if some aspects of Irish English are closer to Old English - after all in some respects German is closer to Old English. What counts is not language change per se, but the fact that English is part of our culture in England. Our pronunciation may differ from that of our ancestors - but this is not because we have imperfectly learned English as a 2nd tongue at some point in the past, but it is owing to the natural process of language change. So any differences in our speech are part of the natural evolution of our language.

I am not going to allow some non-white people half the way around the world who were lucky enough to have been colonised by us to dictate what is and is not good English. There may be 70 million speakers of so-called Indian English, but this is because there are a lot of Indians, and they are breeding rapidly. Ultimately, it is not their cultural inheritance. The Papua New Guineans speak Tok Pisin, also known as New Guinea Pidgin English. If the PNG population was larger, Jonas, you would be claiming that this was correct English. The PNG population refer to Prince Philip as "Man bilong Missis Kween".

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Róman (Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 07:35 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

A Dhavid,

Although I am white Caucasian from northern Europe, I find your last post racist, prejudiced, revisionist and therefore utmost repugnant. This is not the way to make an argument.

quote:

in what is - sadly - today classed as a foreign country

Are regretting the right of the Irish to have their own state? Do you consider it is only English have innate right to be a sovereign nation?

quote:

some non-white people half the way around the world

and if those people were white you would accept their corrupt English? Your way of thinking is LAUGHABLE.

quote:

a lot of Indians, and they are breeding rapidly.

The English used to breed even faster at higher level of economic development. So what's wrong with that? Growing prosperity will naturally reduce growth of population to mere replacement level or even below. The fastest greying nation around the world is China at the moment - the one child policy was of help but it was not the only factor.

quote:

The PNG population refer to Prince Philip as "Man bilong Missis Kween"

So? What's wrong with that? Good oul' Saxons would find old English similarly strange and curiuos, so what were you aiming at?

Gan meas

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(Unregistered Guest)
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Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 09:04 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

[QUOTE]Although I am white Caucasian from northern Europe, I find your last post racist, prejudiced, revisionist and therefore utmost repugnant. This is not the way to make an argument.[/QUOTE]

Yeah, whatever... Have you tried thinking for yourself for a change?

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Caoimhín
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Posted on Saturday, February 18, 2006 - 11:59 am:   Small TextLarge TextEdit Post Print Post

This thread is now closed.

Caoimhín

Tír gan teanga, tír gan anam.



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