Sorry, what did you say?

From time to time, I use australianisms in my posts – that is, I drop into Strine rather than sticking with the Sarf Lunnon English that I grew up speaking. After nigh on 30 years, it’s hard not to go native. A few of youse respected Charioteers are not bothered by my use of Strine – OZ and Christopher in particular are both reasonably fluent in the dialect – but it’s harder on those of you that haven’t been Down Under.

Today I found an article in the SMH (Sydney Morning Herald) written by a journo who obviously deplores the development and use of our own variety of English, which may amuse you. I hope so, anyway.

He’s wrong, of course; Aussies will speak whatever dialect our teenagers tell us to, and if visitors can’t understand – tough!

The author even gets his standard Italian spelling wrong – it’s Parmigiana with a ‘g’, not a ‘j’, but not to worry! šŸ˜Ž

Author: Bearsy

A Queensland Bear with attitude

7 thoughts on “Sorry, what did you say?”

  1. Language always evolves doesn’t it, Bearsy ? My least favourite modern word (and action) is “selfie” Ughh. But having travelled a bit, the number of different versions of English one hears around the globe are truly amazing and some of them are almost unintelligible ’til you start to get the hang of it. But it’s the alteration of the meaning that catches one, as I found out while I was unloading tools from a van for a plasterer in the US. The lady of the house asked me if I was actually going to carry out the plastering and I relied “No, I’m just here to do the humping” I found out why she looked somewhat shocked when I told the plasterer about it later.

  2. Not surprising really that the ex colonials mangle up the language when you consider what the original denizens of the UK do to it!
    Try a really strong Geordie accent or the dialectical of Aberdeen natives. I swear it’s a toss up between Aberdeen and the Louisiana bayou country for unintelligibility that I have come across, especially before TV became so international.
    The Aberdonians use dialect and the bayou lot have a bizarre melange of English, French and African words. Strangely enough that wasn’t too difficult as I had recently come from Aberdeen and the ear was adjusted.
    One of the big problems of American English, the words are the same but mean something entirely different! Round here they keep advertising Shag housing!!!!! (Believe it or not it is for well heeled tottering geriatrics!)
    Quite beyond. (In the Welsh style. Which means, end of subject, not one more word on it or it’ll end up a blood feud!)

  3. What’s so brilliant about the English language is that it’s very organic. There is no single standard, the is no English Academy, there is no government agency micro-managing the language. If some journo doesn’t like it, he can piss off.

  4. Hear them down in Soho Square,
    Dropping “h’s” everywhere.
    Speaking English anyway they like.
    You sir, did you go to school?

    Man: Wadaya tike me for, a fool?

    Henry: No one taught him ‘take’ instead of ‘tike!
    Hear a Yorkshireman, or worse, hear a Cornishman converse. I’d rather hear a choir singing flat.
    Chickens, cackling in a barn, just like this one (pointing to Eliza)

    Eliza: Gaaarn

    Henry (writing, imitating Eliza): Gaaarn..
    I ask you Sir, what sort of word is that? (to Pickering)
    It’s “aoow” and “gaarn” that keep her in her place
    Not her wretched clothes and dirty face
    Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?
    This verbal class distinction, by now,
    Should be antique. If you spoke as she does, sir,
    Instead of the way you do,
    Why, you might be selling flowers, too!

    Pickering: I beg your pardon!

    Henry: An Englishman’s way of speaking absolutely classifies him,
    The moment he talks he makes some other
    Englishman despise him.
    One common language I’m afraid we’ll never get.
    Oh, why can’t the English learn to
    set a good example to people whose
    English is painful to your ears?
    The Scotch and the Irish leave you close to tears.
    There even are places where English completely
    Well, in America, they haven’t used it for years!
    Why can’t the English teach their children how to speak?
    Norwegians learn Norwegian; the Greeks have taught their Greek. In France every Frenchman knows
    his language from “A” to “Zed”
    The French never care what they do, actually,
    as long as they pronounce it properly.
    Arabians learn Arabian with the speed of summer lightning.
    And Hebrews learn it backwards,
    which is absolutely frightening.
    Use proper English you’re regarded as a freak.
    Why can’t the English,
    Why can’t the English learn to speak?

  5. Copied and pasted without attribution – oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

    The Chariot abjectly apologises to George Bernard Shaw, Pygmalion, Lerner and Loewe, Rex Harrison and most of the theatrical population of the UK and the USA, for our dereliction of duty. šŸ˜Ž


  6. G’day, Bearsy. Goodness me, I could write a book on this, but will restrict myself to just three points

    The ‘youse’ you use is particularly common in Liverpool, hence the story of the new teacher taking register on his first morning. “Davies?”, “Sir”. “Edmunds?”, “Sir”. “Garbutt?”, “Sir”. “Hughes?”. Silence. “Hughes? Are you here? Stand up, Hughes.” The whole class rose obediently to their feet.

    English is also the root of Tok Pisin, spoken and written in Papua New Guinea, which is laced with traces of the seafaring traders who needed to communicate in a land of more than eight hundred separate languages. I was surprised on my first visit to see a vending machine with a sign across it reading “bagarap” – thnk about it – meaning it was out of order, or a villager picking up “tamiok blong mi” (tomahawk – his axe). A child is a “pikinini”, actually from the Portuguese “pequeninho” meaning “little” rather than from the American deep south. As the language evolved, Australian English terms also started creeping in, such as “wokabaut” (to take a trip or go for a walk) and, more recently, “pollie” (politician), “pokie” (gambling machine) or “braun botol” (stubbie, beer bottle). I have here a genuine “masin blong opim botol” (bottle opener), which is simply a piece of wood with a self tapping screw protruding from one end, and jolly efficient it is too.

    Lastly, I personally see nothing wrong with the term “Straya” and hear it both as a term of endearment and a typically Aussie antidote to the international (American) politically correct speak heard increasingly in Canberra and at Sydney’s Mardi Gras.. As for the SMH’s correspondent, to use his own quoted phrase he does indeed come over as a drongo and one snag short of a barbie.


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