Saturday, October 09, 2004

Who says dialect is dead?

Read more than a few things about dialect and they will tell you, on good authority, that traditional British dialects are on the way out. Down here on the Costa Del Sussex, the traditional local dialect has been little more than a historical curiosity for ever and a day, with only the word "twittern" for a back alley really having any modern currency. But it's not all bad news because shedloads of research also indicates that new dialects are emerging - in Milton Keynes, in Tower Hamlets, in the development of Estuary English.

But the people of Yorkshire are never ones to fit into the nice neat tidy patterns of the rest of the country. (Don't hit me - though I speak like a soft Southerner, my father was a Yorkshireman and his dying wish was that I be first in the queue for a passport when the People's Republic of Yorkshire declared its independence from the rest of Britain....) And what do we see in the papers this week, but evidence that traditional dialect is alive and vigorously kicking in the waiting rooms of doctors' surgeries in Doncaster and Barnsley.

As desperate to recruit doctors as any Health Authority in the land, Doncaster West Primary Care Trust recruited seven doctors from Austria. Fluent in advanced everyday and scientific English, and fancying the prospect of a plate of toasted teacakes and a walk on the Moors, they packed their bags and headed north. Only to find that they couldn't understand what on earth was wrong with their patients, as dialect words for varying degrees of feeling lousy, and for assorted body parts, got lost in translation.

Check out the links to read the story and find out more, then hey, let's do some cool online research - in your part of the country, what do you call the things identified as dialect terms in the article?

Guide helps GPs treat a noggling in the lugoil

Why Northern dialects are worth saving

Yorkshire dialect


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