Monday, 13 March 2017

How the people speak!

I talked about words and expressions the other day, amazed at the odd things other languages come up with. Then my friend and fellow blogger Colin reminded himself, and incidentally me, about invented things being "trumped up" - usually charges.

Today's Guardian had an article about disappearing dialects. In the UK that is; in other countries they abound and are called regional languages. Here's a link. The conclusion was that you can still hear dialect words all over the place.

They included the expression "like a figure one, well scraped", used in Bolton apparently to describe a very thin woman. A friends of ours from Prestwich or Whitefield says, of someone very small and thin, "if you turn her sideways she disappears". All very picturesque but not in quite the same class as some of the Scandi words. However, "clemmed" for "hungry" still used apparently in Wigan might almost fit the bill.

There's a whole section of the British Library that catalogues these expressions. In fact, in the middle of the article there is a very informative little quiz where you can try to guess the meaning of certain words and expressions.

Sometimes words seem to travel. They identified "well" used in the sense of "very" as coming from the Midlands and yet I hear it used that way around here al the time. And they appear to have neglected to include "proper", also used to mean "very", as it, "I'm proper tired", "that film's proper good" and " me mam's proper poorly". I heard it all the time when I worked in Salford.

Many of the dialect words included in the quiz came from Cockney rhyming slang. When does slang become dialect? That's another little conundrum!

This is not really an example of a dialect word but a small robot submarine called Boaty McBoatface is setting off on its first Antarctic mission. The name was chosen by public vote from names suggested, also by the public at the request of the Natural Environment Research Council, for a new polar research ship. Some joker suggested Boaty McBoatface and it took off. But it was felt to be too jokey for such a prestigious vessel and so they gave it tine little yellow submarine instead.

How could they do that? After all, the people had spoken! And we know that you have to listen when the people speak!

The results of the people speaking, i.e. triggering article 50, seems to be being pushed back again. Instead of this week, the suggestion is that it will be by the end of the month. We wait to see the outcome.

Meanwhile Nicola Sturgeon is calling for the people to speak again; she wants another referendum on Scotland's independence.

And Sean Spicer, White House press secretary,  has been accused of racism after telling an Indian-American woman that America is a great country because it lets her stay there. I was unsure whether this meant an Indian-American whose ancestors were the original inhabitants of that great country or one whose family came originally from India.

Words are not always crystal clear!

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