We English think we speak about 10 different languages all called English

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Posted by Andy Morley on April 09, 1999 at 19:52:12:

In Reply to: We Americans think we speak English posted by Edwin M. Kiser on April 06, 1999 at 23:08:43:

There's probably much less difference now between all the various forms of English than in Shaw's time because of the communications revolution. My kids can 'do' Americans just as fluently as they can 'do' Brummies. The former come seeping out of the telly, the latter come seeping out of their city and over the Lickey Hills into Worcestershire. (That's "the Lickoys" in Brummagem). Sadly, some of the nicer dialects, my native East Anglian for one, are vulnerable to erosion by changes of this sort.

Not everywhere though - beyond York, people are very different. Travelling by train yesterday, I changed from the intercity at Darlington to pick up a local train for Middlesbrough. The squint-faced crop-blond-headed guard made a neat trefoil in my ticket and went ambling on his way. When he came back, he was looking at me with a sense of purpose. One blue cross-eye fixed my left shoulder, the other alighted on my right ear.
"I'm sorry…?" I was unsure what kind of ticketary indiscretion I might have committed.
"S'thahyo'cotunbaa..??!! He pointed stubbily. Had he been Glaswegian, I might have expected him to address me as "Jimma" at this stage of our acquaintance. Then I realised he was pointing not at me but past me. My coat and bag had been flung by the motion of the train from between the backs of two adjacent seats and were lolling across the corridor.
"Thanks" I said picking them up.
"s'owreet" he said and smiled as he ambled off again.

Travelling back this afternoon, I caught the train back from Middlesbrough to Darlington. Same train, same guard. It's that kind of place. And aren't railway journeys and laptop computers wonderful things..?

On a slightly different tack, that fare a me that Arfa Ransum dun't never hully manege ter git the hang on how they they talk in Norfuk any more nor what I can. Now dew any on yer out thar think as yew ken dew be'a..?

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