I can't speak all the Englishes-A A +A
Saturday, June 30, 2012
I DE hail you mates. Howzit vriende? Salutations and goode morrow to thee, my goode readers. I grew up speaking English - people usually tell me I sound very natural and that I have an American accent (I don't, all my white friends can tell the difference). I also teach English at a school for Koreans, and I hear the same thing all the time - our Korean friends want to learn English so that they can live and work in Australia.
"Australia?" I usually say, "You know they speak a different brand of English there, right?" they usually respond with either a casual "I know, but same" or a surprised "oh really?" And then I tell them the truth - there's more than one flavor of English in the world, and learning American English will mess with their ability to learn Australian English - the English they actually need.
And it's not just about Australian English and American English – there are so many "Englishes" all over the world, but American English and the Queen's English appear to be the most popular (or rather, the easiest to understand).
Just to clarify, there is a single language called "English," but all the dialects are so strange that they might as well be their own language.
For example, when you come into a real Irish pub in downtown Belfast, the first thing the barmaid will say to you is "Are you okay?" Now, you'd probably have a confused look on your face as you explain that you're just fine to her, and then she'd have the confused look on her face because in Ireland, "Are you okay" means "I'm ready to serve you."
Australian English is a different animal entirely. The funny accent aside, Australian English can be a bit of a pain to understand.
I can give you the following sentence for a reference, "Ow-yar-goin mate? Got the wog have you? Right - go to the chemical shop down the footpath and they'll fix you with something flat chat. Now stop playing sillybuggers and nack off."
If you understood 100 percent of that you're either Australian or lying. The sentence means, "How are you doing, friend? Do you have a cold? Okay - go to the drug store down the sidewalk and they'll give you something for that immediately. Now stop waiting around and just go."
Then there's South African English. The English left their language in South Africa for the Dutch, Huguenots, Xhosa and Zulu to massacre. After years of inter-linguistic mingling, the result came out... pretty strange.
Let's say your Afrikaner friend is giving you directions to his house. He says, "Hey howzit bru? Jirra, we can have a jol if you can make it to the pozzy for a dop. Aweh, get off the freeway at Booysens, then take a left at the robot by Klip River. You can't miss it - it's the one with the real lekker stoep." Translated, that means "Hello friend. Wow, we can have a great party if you can make it to my place for a beer. Okay, get off the freeway at Booysens, then take a left at the stoplight by Klip River. You can't miss it - it's the one with the nice looking veranda."
I know what you're thinking - this is 'deep slang' and you probably don't need it. Well, not exactly. You see, when you go to work in a foreign country, your co-workers are all going to be speaking their own dialect, and all the jokes and jabs at the boss will be lost on you if you don't know what they're talking about. They could be planning a strike for next Tuesday and you'd be the only one getting ready for work on that day.
In any case, the English language is diverse as it is bizarre. As it is, English is a hodge-podge of loan words and leftovers from ancient languages with strange grammar and sentence structure for non-native speakers (genderless words?!? How can this be!?), so it was only natural that it developed different dialects for different places.
Until next time, totsiens and slawn go fall.
Published in the Sun.Star Bacolod newspaper on June 30, 2012.