Archive for the ‘Language’ Category

A rare dialect that is only spoken by two elderly brothers is to be recorded for posterity before it disappears.

Bobby Hogg, 87, and his brother Gordon, 80, are believed to be the last fluent speakers of the “Cromarty fisher dialect”.

It is said to be the most threatened dialect in Scotland and is to be recorded for an internet-based cultural archive.

It evolved when local fishermen in the town of Cromarty, on the Black Isle north of Inverness, picked up words from English soldiers based in the area in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The fishermen adopted formal words such as thee, thou and thine, but also mispronunciations, substituting “erring” for “herring” and “hears” for “ears”.

Bobby Hogg said: “You hear the odd smattering of it in some of the things people from Cromarty say, but nobody speaks it fluently these days but for us two.

His wife Helen added: “My husband is fluent in the Cromarty fisher dialect. I understand it, but his brother is the only other person who can speak it.

A spokesman for Am Baile, a Highland internet archive, said it was important to capture a recording of the last two speakers.

Robin McColl Miller of Aberdeen University‘s English department said the Cromarty fisher dialect was the most threatened in Scotland, and one of five different dialects once found in the same small area.



Here you can find some sentences in Cromarty and you can listen to the brothers’ interview and how they say some words and expressions.


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Muslim mothers who do not speak English at home are stunting their children’s literacy levels, one of the Government’s most influential education advisers said last night.

Sir Cyril Taylor, the chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, said that the failure of parents to speak English at home was a key reason why some schools were at the bottom of newly-published-league tables.

The problem, described by Sir Cyril as a “major issue”, should be addressed by a national campaign to encourage the mothers of ethnic minority children to attend English classes, he said. “A very high proportion of the mothers come from Bangladesh and Pakistan, not speaking English when they arrive through arranged marriages,” he added.

“If the child does not speak English at home, if it is not the language of conversation with their mother or father, that clearly has an influence. It is a major cause of lower results in English.”

Official figures show that at least half the children in more than 1,000 primary schools in England do not have English as their first language. Six per cent of primaries and more than a third of secondary schools are heading for, or already have, a majority of children with English as a second language. In London, English is a foreign language for the majority of children in more than half of primary schools.

Sir Cyril cited the example of the Grange School in Oldham, Greater Manchester, where results have plummeted under the Government’s GCSE benchmark, which requires five good GCSE passes to include maths and English.

“The Grange – where 70 per cent of pupils achieved five good GCSEs but the figure falls to 15 per cent with maths and English – has an intake which is predominantly Bangladeshi, so there is going to be an issue with literacy,” he said. Teaching English to ethnic minority parents, as well as children, had wider implications for community cohesion, he added.

“It is unfair just to pick out Muslims, but there is a strategic defence issue here. If they can’t speak English, these young people are less likely to have a good relationship with the police or get a job. The issue is wider than just the lack of English in the family, it is about the lack of integration in the community.

“Schools need to be at the forefront of social integration of ethnic communities. They should be community centres, teaching mothers English as well as pupils.”

Concerns about Muslim women’s lack of English were expressed earlier this month by Ann Cryer, the MP for Keighley in West Yorkshire, who has been raising the issue since the 2001 riots in Oldham, Burnley and Bradford.

She claimed that many young Asian women who were brought to the Bradford district as wives were deliberately discouraged from learning English by their in-laws. Children were then starting school with no awareness of English.

The comments come as changes in government funding for adult English classes threaten to reduce the availability of free lessons for immigrants.

Almost 100 MPs have signed a motion complaining about proposals, which restrict who is eligible for the lessons. Under the new rules, which are due to come in to force later this year, courses will only be free for the unemployed and those on income support.

Boris Johnson, the shadow higher education minister, said immigrants were “baffled” at the logic of a Government which cuts classes at the same time as underlining the importance of understanding English, which is a requirement of citizenship tests.

Ruth Kelly, the Communities Secretary, said last year that she would launch a review of language services after figures suggested public bodies were spending at least £100 million on translation and interpretation services for UK residents.



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Hinglish is a hybrid language of English and some south Asian languages, used both in the UK and in south Asia. A dictionary of the language has been gathered by Baljinder Mahal, a Derby-based teacher and published last week as The Queen’s Hinglish.In south Asia, Hinglish has been given a fashionable spin by its use on music channels and in advertising. The exporting of words has also caught the attention of the south Asian media. It ‘s also sometimes a secret language, which is being used by a lot of British Asians. Some examples of this language are:

  • kati: I’m not your friend any more.  
  • haina:innit (isn’t it?).
  • feel glassy: feel thirsty.
  • timepass: a way of distracting yourself.
  • prepone: opposite to postpone. 
  • badmash: hooligan .
  • to bangalore: to send overseas.

Although all this might sound new, there are much older crossovers between English and the languages of the Indian sub-continent, with many words imported from the soldiers and administrators of the British Raj, for instance: caravan, bungalow, pyama, bandana, shampoo… Languages are not static, they change and get mixed up -like almost all the cultures do- and it’s natural and inevitable that languages will adapt and change to whatever is around. Welcome Hinglish!

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