I sometimes wonder why Ebonics is not considered a separate language altogether. There are some varieties of it spoken around here by some Blacks that are entirely incomprehensible to me. These same Blacks can easily switch and speak Standard English if they wish. I also wonder why the Englishes spoken in West Africa (or at least many varieties of it) are not considered separate languages. These people pretty much grow up speaking English from an early age, so it can’t be just regional accent of an L2 effecting their English. West African English seems to be evolving into its very own type of English. A lot of East Indian English seems to be evolving in the same way. These people also speak English from an early age, so it’s not just L2 accent. East Indian English seems to be taking its own trajectory. I often can’t make heads or tails out of West African English, and East Indian English is also often very difficult to understand. Thickly accented L2 English from other regions is often much easier to understand than these two. Within both West African English and East Indian English there are varieties spoken by more educated speakers that are often quite easy to understand. James Schipper noted in the comments that in Canada, interviews of ordinary citizens from Scotland carried subtitles. This may be because they were speaking Scots. Scots is now, according to Ethnologue, a completely separate language related to English. Keep in mind that there are three languages here: Scottish Gaelic, the Gaelic tongue related to Irish; Scots, the new language related to English yet not a dialect of English; and Scottish English, which is in fact a dialect of English. Spoken Scottish English is probably comprehensible to most of us, but Scots clearly is not. Scots was the language spoken in Trainspotting. There was a reason why that movie had subtitles! Keep in mind that the Caribbean English creoles have long since been split off from English. Jamaicans are clearly NOT speaking English, and interviews with them and movies about Jamaica often need subtitles. The Caribbeans are all speaking English creoles, which are not the same as the English language. They are separate languages altogether. James Schipper notes in the comments that when Quebecois French movies are shown in France, they are shown with subtitles. If this is so, then it may be time to split off Quebecois French into a separate language. Needing subtitles to understand a speaker on video is a pretty sure sign that you are dealing with a separate language and not a dialect.
Please follow and like us: