English: What flavo(u)r do you speak?

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(Sab Will) #1

A place to discuss the many varieties or ‘flavours’ of English, including national, regional and personal variations, particularly their implications in relation to the teaching world. What English do you teach?!


(Rosemary Benard) #2

Loved the accent guide to New York etc -and yes, Cagney and Lacey rock!

I feel I have to jump to the defence of the Brummies (whose accent is way different from that of the Black Country, which surrounds them. Apparently.). My alma mater is Aston University, and I have to say I had a ball there and met many lovely Brummies. That´s not to say though that the accent doesn´t make my lips twitch. . .

My English is solid RP with a bit of estuarine and when pushed I can do a passable imitation of Margaret Thatcher.
That dates me. . . !

However, having lived and taught for a number of years in various different places, I now have a broader appreciation of our wonderful language:
Japan - English as an ´international´, ie vaguely Americanised, language; Japlish on merchandise as a source of surprising laughs
Swansea - Port Eynon and Port Talbot are, in fact, composed of only one word each: p´teynon and p´talbot; the beauty of singsong
Dublin - juwonbothawida means Do you want butter with that? (think sandwich bar); repeated examples of the amazing effect of alcohol on one´s students´ English fluency (all the other types of bar ;))
Northern Ireland: properly called, of course, Norn Iron, and where the vowel sound in ´down´ adds a whole new dimension to a teacher´s phonic dictionary
Glasgow: the we/wee thing - after three years there I ended up using the word even when talking to fellow Englishmen as well as learning a whole load of other wonderful vocab (excluding some choice ones specifically for Celtic/Rangers games, apparently!)

And now France, where my speech is beginning to slow down again, my vocabulary is gradually narrowing and I´m trying to get my head around helping people to pass exams instead of empower them as independent citizens to face the world outside their front door. I´m fighting the Franglais, and the international English is coming back. Still got the RP accent, though!


(Sab Will) #3

That reminds me of this funny video on the New York accents - don’t know how true it is but it was all news to me! There’s tons of these things on You Tube - just type in the place followed by ‘accent’ and there they are!




(Emma LEE) #4

I looooove New Joisey English. Cagney and Lacey to thank for that!!


(Rich Snyder) #5

Even though it’s been a few months since the last post, I thought I’d let all of you know that I speak the variant of English known as New Joisey. Hey, youse guys gotta prolem wit dat?
Joisey shares a bit of Brook-a-leen in it’s accent mainly because of the heavy Italian influence. The old joke about cutting off an Italian’s hands to keep him from talking applies pretty much to Joisey.
We don’t go to the coast, we go “downashore”.
We don’t go to McDonalds, we go “ta Mickey Dee’s”.
We don’t ask you where your’e from, we say “what exit you offa?”

And if you think New Joisey Englitch is weird, youse outta check out how dem rednecks tawk…y’all.


(Natasha Wright) #6

Well - the poor French children I teach will soon be specaking English in a west country accent sprinkled with a touch of ‘Del Boy’ : )


(Dedene Nelson-Court) #7

I think that’s one of the reasons French people make such fun of Celine Dion, because of her “quebecisms”. Although the French think that way French Canadians speak is quite charming.


(Sab Will) #8

An interesting parallel can be drawn between ‘French’ French, for want of a better term, and Canadian French.

A French guy once told me that he was working in a bar in Quebec one time, and someone came in and asked for a ‘whiskey sur les rochers’, and he didn’t have a friggin’ clue what the guy was on about… turned out il voulait son poison avec des glaçons… ;-D


(Sab Will) #9

Maybe, maybe! But as neither a Muslim nor a Christian I’d have to bow out of that discussion Stu! :smiley:


(Stuart Wilson) #10

That’s good news then SAB if we’re going for the majority rule we should be able to get all muslims converted to Chrisitanity. 2.1 billion vs 1.5 billion.


(Sab Will) #11

I’m afraid, as a Brit, I hold my hands up to my trainee teachers, whether American or British speakers are in the majority, and say, I have to admit and accept it guys, there are 300 million North American Nationals and only 60+something million Brits, so in the end who am I to…

As teachers, we have a dilemma: we have to teach some sort of English, or what do we teach? But then again, as you say Dedene, English is changing all the time, always has, always will by the way, and I think we should look on these differences as just another reason why this brilliant language of ours is so cool and endlessly fascinating. End of speech. Over and out. I’m through.


(Dedene Nelson-Court) #12

Stuart, true, but you have to admit that there have been two versions for quite some time, and they are growing farther and farther apart.


(Sab Will) #13

Well indeed, what accent would they have other than yours, and the fact that they were using their English with confidence and being understood is fantastic!

I must admit I do smile to myself when I hear a stronger-accented trainee drilling their students in whatever their accent is and the students all repeating back with really very good Scottish / Scouse / Aussie or whatever accents - it is funny!

I’ve come across lots of French who have lived abroad and I don’t even need to ask them where when they come out with a strange mixture of French/Scottish , French/Irish or whatever the host country was. It is really funny and quite cute, but I do draw the line at French/Brummy, where I whack them for insolence.

Just kidding.

I shoot them :wink:


(Stuart Wilson) #14

English is English not American…


(Dedene Nelson-Court) #15

I have heard in classes “but that’s not what we learned in school…” because I speak American English. For example, I had someone really dispute me when I taught the auxiliary “do” and didn’t include “have” as one of the regular ones. Ex., Do you have the time? vs. Have you the time?
This is the way Americans speak. The student couldn’t get their head around the idea. Now that wasn’t my accent but I have another cute story about my accent.

The group classes I have are within a twinning association with a small town in England (Great Ayton). Last April, about 50 of us went up to visit the Great Aytons. I was talking to one of the English people and he was commenting on the progress the French had made in English. Then he said “But they all have your accent!” I thought that was hysterical.


(Sab Will) #16

The American vs. British accent (and vocab, and grammar…) is the thing that I get questions about most often. Especially the rather tricky question “Which is best?” or “Which should I learn”. New teachers sometimes wonder “Which should I teach?”, as though their perfectly good native accent may somehow be faulty or ‘not good enough English’.

I say two things to new teachers. First of all, they should teach in their own accent. And secondly, if their accent is so strong that a) students are having problems understanding them, or b) they feel their students might not be understood if they speak like wot we do, then we may have to ‘standardise’ our accent somewhat - that seems only fair.

What I say to students of English is probably for a later message. Any of you English teachers out there got any thoughts? Any of you teachers of any discipline encountered problems here in France because of your accent? And what did you do about it? Interesting stuff.


(Dedene Nelson-Court) #17

I speak American watered down by years away from the US, and pretty darned good French.


(Catharine Higginson) #18

We used to have a maltese next door neighbour and when we were kids, she would babysit and tell my brothers to “clean their teets”

They found it hilarious. Probably still do.


(Stuart Wilson) #19

We, as in me and the boys, are constantly taking the mickey out of my wife Nathalie especially when it comes to the difference between “i” and “ee” as in slip and sleep. Other versions obviously available for your amusement. She really cant hear the difference but that’s maybe my accent in English to blame.
I have real difficulties in French with the masculine and feminine and also the difference between “O” and “A” eg PONT, PAN. It can make a huge difference to the sentence and as in my wife’s case I can hardly hear the difference.
How do you guys manage, especially as some of you have younger children learning the language.


(Stuart Wilson) #20

Don’t get me started on US English, bloody Z’s everywhere.