Friday, October 5, 2012

rip: the cromarty dialect of the english language

When we talked about the evolution of English, the historical context may have given the impression that the process is over.

It's not.

As you know, English has grown. Shakespeare used 31,534 words. Today the Oxford English Dictionary includes over 600,000 definitions (including, as of 2001, Homer Simpson's "Doh!"). But languages are also dying off, and that's a problem. As we've talked about in learning, one way to do anything--no matter how good an idea-- is a bad idea. This is especially true in communication. Does anyone have relatives who speak a language or dialect whose meanings are so specific and nuanced that they're difficult to translate into English? How can understanding another language enrich our understanding of English and the world around us?

R.I.P., Cromarty dialect. I wish I could learn you but ah wudna ken artil start (I wouldn't know where to start).


  1. My mother is originally from Jalisco, Mexico and one of the things that stuck out to me when she told me about her childhood was when she told about a trip she took to go see one of her aunt's in a different part of Mexico (I've forgotten the name by now). My mother has been fluent in Spanish since she young but when she went to visit her aunt, she couldn't understand anything she was saying. She knew she was speaking Spanish but for the life of her she couldn't understand a word she was saying! When she went back home my mother immediately told her mother about her experience and my grandma's response was, "You couldn't understand her because she speaks a very old dialect that her great great grandparents spoke when they were young." Though I personally never got to meet my great aunt I believe that understanding another language doesn't only enrich our understand of English and the world around us, but also enrich our understanding of how people interact with each other. All in all, language is "the gift that keeps on giving."

  2. My story is similar to Sam's in that my mother has been fluent in the Spanish language since childhood. She was very confident in her grasp of the language and her communications skills. However, on our cruise to Mexico, my mom discovered there was a slight language barrier. Although she could understand a lot of what the natives were saying, there were certain words that she just couldn't understand. It was interesting because we learned knew phrases we had never heard before, even though I have forgotten them by now. Learning another language enriches our understanding of English as well as the diverse cultures around us. It gives us a taste of the diversity that exists on our planet.