Warren Port writes about Somerset English. See the link for a baffling sample of this strange form of English.
Admittedly it is a very bad English, and he is exaggerating for effect but I understand most of it except for the odd word. When I was twelve we moved from London to a tiny village called Cattcott ten miles from the Mendips where this recording is from. In the eighties there were some people who spoke that way, probably more diluted now.
I am a linguist. We don’t really call anything “bad English.” All dialects are as good as any other. I just figure if you can’t understand it, it’s a foreign language. I would like to split English into some separate languages because some of them pretty much are.
Really Wurzel is just as much of a valid way to speak English as any others. This man speaks Wurzel, and he is able to communicate just fine with other folks who also speak it, so it is a valid lect. The only problem is that rest of us English speakers speak another English language that is very far removed from this English language, so we can’t understand him. Someone ought to write this language down. It’s cool because it seems like it has a lot of new words that I don’t have in the English language that I speak.
At a minimum, as separate languages, I would probably split off:
Scots. There appears to be more more than one language inside Scots. Scots itself is already split off as a separate language. There appear to be 4 separate languages inside of Scots.
Doric Scots. Doric is spoken in the northeast of Scotland in Aberdeen, Banff and Buchan, Moray and the Nairn. It has difficult intelligibility with the rest of Scots.
Lallans Scots. This form of Scots is spoken in the south and central part of Scotland. This is the most common form of spoken Scots. Difficult intelligibility with the other lects.
Ulster Scots. This is the form of the Scots language spoken in North Ireland, mostly by Protestants. It has many dialects and has difficult intelligibility with the rest of Scots.
Insular Scots. Includes the Shetlandic and Orcadian dialects. Spoken on some Scottish islands and is reportedly even hard for other Scots speakers to understand. Of all of the Scots lects, this one is the farthest from the others.
Scottish English. We can probably split this off as well because it is probable that there are Scottish English speakers who can’t understand pure Scots very well. While some British English speakers can understand this lect well, others have problems with it. In particular, the dialect of Glascow is said to be hard to understand for many Londoners.
Hibernian English. English spoken in Ireland. There seem to be some forms of Irish English such as the hard lect spoken by the spokespeople for the IRA and its political wing like Gerry Adams, that are very hard for Americans to understand. Some English people also have a hard time with Ulster English.
Geordie and related lects from the far north of England up around Scotland. These lects are spoken around Newcastle in the far north of England on the east coast. Even the rest of the English often have a hard time with Geordie, and when people talk about multiple languages inside English, Geordie is often the first one they bring up.
Scouse. Really hard Scouse is barely even intelligible outside of Liverpool, not even in the suburbs. There is a report of an American who lived in Liverpool for a long period of time, and after 8 years, she still could not understand the very hard Scouse spoken by young working class Liverpool women. While some speakers of British English can understand Scouse, this is mostly due to bilingual learning. Other speakers of British English have a hard time with Scouse.
Potteries. Spoken almost exclusively in and around the city of Stoke on Trent in northern West Midlands. The hard form is not readily understood outside the city itself. The dialect is dying out.
Welsh English. The hard forms of Welsh English are not readily understood outside the region. There are at least 4 separate languages inside Welsh English.
South Welsh English.Welsh English is not a single language but actually appears to be four separate languages. The varieties of South Welsh English spoken in Cardiff and West Glamorgan (Swansea, Neath and Port Talbot) cannot be understood outside the region. It is not known if West Glamorgan English and Cardiff English can understand each other well. North Welsh English, South Welsh English and West Welsh English are as far apart as Newcastle, Cornwall and Birmingham; therefore, all three of them are separate languages.
North Welsh English. This language is spoken in areas such as Anglesy and Llanberis. It often has a soft lilt to it that people find pleasant and soothing. Probably poor intelligibility with West and South Welsh English.
West Welsh English. This is spoken in places such as Aberystwyth and Cardiganshire. Those two dialects are said to be particularly pleasant sounding. Probably poor intelligibility with North and South Welsh English.
Monmouth English. This form of Welsh English reportedly cannot be understood outside of Monmouth itself. Monmouth is a city on the eastern edge of Wales towards the south.
Wurzel. In particular the hard Wurzel form of West Country English spoken in Somerset at least until very recently is not well understood outside of Somerset. In addition, many younger residents of Somerset do not understand it completely. It sounds similar to Irish and has a lot of new words for things. Hard Wurzel is dying out, and its speakers are mostly elderly. The language of Bristol may be possibly be included here.
Weald Sussex English. A variety of Sussex English spoken in the Weald region of Sussex was traditionally very hard for outsiders to understand. It is dying out now, but it still has a few speakers.
Newfoundland English. There are reportedly some hard forms of Newfie English spoken by older fishermen on the coast of the island that are very hard for other North Americans to understand.
Appalachian English. Some forms of Appalachian English from the deep hollows of West Virginia are hard for other Americans to understand.
Mulungeon English. Some of the English lects spoken by Mulungeon groups in central Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, particularly the lect spoken by the Monacan Indians living near Lynchburg, are very hard for other Americans to understand. They seem to have an archaic character and use a lot of new words for things that I could not identify when I heard it. This may be a type of English often said to be archaic from centuries ago that is still spoken in the mountains. The degree to which this is intelligible with the rest of Appalachian English is uncertain.
Tangier English. Spoken on an island off the coast of Virginia by fishermen, this is a relatively pure West Country English lect from 1680 or so that has survived more or less intact. When they speak among themselves, they are hard for other Americans to understand. The degree to which this can be understood by West Country English speakers in England is not known. Unknown intelligibility with Harkers Island English.
Harkers Island English. Spoken on Harkers Island off the coast of North Carolina on the Outer Banks. Has a similar origin to Tangier English. It is hard for outsiders to understand. The degree of intelligibility between Tangier English and Harkers Island English is not known.
New York English. There is a hard form of New York English, not much spoken anymore, that cannot be well understood at least here on the West Coast. Tends to be spoken by working class Whites especially in the Bronx. In general, this lect is dying out. In my region of California, we recently had a man who moved here from the Bronx, a young working class White man. Even after 2-3 months here, people still had a hard time understanding him. He did not seem to be able to modify his speech so he could be understood better, which usually means someone is speaking another language, not a dialect. Finally he learned California English dialect well enough so that he could make himself understood.
Nonatum English or Lake Talk. Spoken only in Nonatum, Massachusetts, one of 13 villages of the city of Newton, mostly by Italian-Americans. Many residents came from a certain village in the Lazio region of Italy. It appears to be a mixture of Italian and Romani, the language of the Gypsies. Not intelligible to those outside the village.
Yooper. Spoken mostly in the Michigan Upper Peninsula, this lect is also spoken in the northern parts of the Lower Peninsula and in parts of northeast Wisconsin. Heavily influenced by Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Flemish and French, this lect is hard for outsiders to understand largely due to the influence of these other European languages.
African American Vernacular English or Ebonics. This lect is spoken by many Black people in the US, often lower class people in ghettos or in the country. The hard forms of it cannot be understood at all by other Americans. I once had two Black women in my car for an hour or so. They were speaking AAVE. Over that hour, I do not believe that I understood a single word they said. They may as well have been speaking Greek. Forms spoken in the ghettos of Memphis and in the Mississippi Delta by rural Blacks may be particularly hard to understand.
South African English. While some Americans can understand this hard dialect well, though with difficulty, others cannot understand it. It is not known how well speakers of other Englishes such as British and Australian English can understand this lect.
Jamaican Creole English. Jamaican English Creole is already split off as a separate language. At any rate, in its hard form, it is nearly unintelligible to Americans.
Gullah English Creole is a creole spoken on the Gullah Islands off the coast of South Carolina. Already split off into a separate language. Not intelligible to American English speakers.
Nigerian Pidgin English. The harder forms of this may be rather hard to Americans to understand, but this needs further investigation. The hard forms are definitely quite divergent and seem odd to many Americans. Already split off as a separate language.
Australian English. Some forms of Australian English can be hard to understand for people outside the continent. I found that a form spoken in rural Tasmania was particularly hard to understand. I even have a hard time understanding Helen Caldicott, the famous physician. Other forms spoken more in the rural areas of the main island can also be rather hard to understand. Nevertheless, I can understand “TV Australian” well. However, speakers of British English are able to understand Australian English well, so it is not a language but rather a dialect of British English.
New Zealand English. This is similar but different from Australian English. While most New Zealand English is readily understandable to Americans, some of it can be a bit hard to hear. In the video below, the announcer speaks in TV New Zealand English, which I actually found a bit hard to understand, but I could make out most of it. The comedians spoke in a strong rural New Zealand accent. I could make out a lot of it, but not all of it for sure. However, British English speakers can understand all of the dialogue in this video. New Zealand English is not a language but is instead a dialect of British English.
Indian English. Some of the Indian English spoken by speakers in India can be quite hard to Americans to understand. What we need to know is whether this is a first or second language for them. If they were brought up speaking this Indian English, then it is a separate language. If it is simply English spoken as a second language by a native speaker of Hindi or another Indian language then it is not a separate language. Requires further investigation.
In conclusion, it seems that there are at least 25 separate languages and 3 creoles/pidgins inside of macro-English. 1 other case is uncertain.
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