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Accents Of Misunderstanding (Or How Things Can Sound Strange To The Uninitiated)
If there is one thing which I find sad about the way Britain is going it is the fact that accents seem to be disappearing.  I wrote on one blog post about how happy I was to be spoken to in my native Norfolk accent when I went back to Kings Lynn and Downham Market for my birthday.

I always think accents are a way of tying you to your roots.  If my Dad ever chose to speak in his native accent there would have been three accents in my family when I started school - one for each of us.  Dad would have been Leicester, I was definitely Norfolk, and Mum was - of course - Dutch.

Not only do accents tie you to your roots (especially if you are lucky enough to keep your original accent) but they can make conversations more interesting.  I honestly find my brain having to work harder if someone is talking in a "cut glass" posh voice, probably because I grew up hearing a strong accent.

Seriously - my Mum and Dad could have said exactly the same thing to me in the exact same tone of voice, and they would have got two completely different reactions.

Readers of the original "Inkyworld" blog will remember I have got a Glaswegian friend (yes, he is still around).  Glaswegians have a habit of speaking very fast (as well as using strange words).  Even when he remembers he is not talking to a Glaswegian and slows his speaking speed down there are ties when he will still confuse me.  Or he will say something that makes me laugh when he is being serious.

Some Glaswegian words have been said to me so often that I immediately understand what he is talking about.

For example;

If he mentions "chap" I know there is a door involved in the sentence.  "He chapped my door" means "He knocked on my door".

If he mentions "knock" I know he is talking about stealing.  "He knocked my pen" means "He stole my pen".

In fact the only one which actually made any remote sense to me when he first said it actually has a loose connection with its English translation;

"I am going to tap James for a tenner."

(A clue, if you think of putting taps in plants to get the sap out you may be able to translate it for yourself.)

In English that would read "I am going to ask James to lend me ten pounds".

The really strange thing is that you would have thought my brain was used to hearing words with completely different meanings to the ones native English-speakers would understand.  After all, I spent my formative years being talked to in - and listening to conversations in - Dutch.

Van, Tot, Met, Door, Op, Trap, are all words which have completely different meanings in Dutch;

Van = From
Tot = To (or - when combined with the next one - Until)
Met = With  ("Tot en Met" literally means to and with - eg, 0900 tot en met 1700 means 9am until 5pm.  This is usually shortened to t/m.) 
Door = Through
Op = Up
Trap = Stairs or Staircase.

(They are only the straight spelling swaps.  We could be here for a very long time if I went through the ones which are spelled differently but the same phonetically.)

Languages are strange things but we really need to preserve them and accents.  I honestly wish that English was not such a dominant language in the world.  I miss hearing sentences in Dutch without any English words in them and having to translate them word for word.  At least it gave my brain something to do.



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