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mckeonj
42076.  Thu Dec 29, 2005 1:56 pm Reply with quote

These days I speak, and write, "standard" or "received" English, but 'twas not always so. As a chava with me pals I spoke a dialect, or patois, or maybe it was a creole. If I write in this or any other dialect, are my spelling and grammar still correct?

 
AndyE
42116.  Thu Dec 29, 2005 8:32 pm Reply with quote

Oh dear, my linguist partner wishes to speak again. Of dialects and also of the word "chava".

Simple answer - YES, if indeed the dialect/patois/creole being spoken has rules for spelling and grammar.

Now to the fuller answer to the question. I don't know where John grew up, but his profile suggests he may be Irish. If so, he grew up speaking an Irish dialect of English. The only differences from standard English are some words e.g. "chava" mentioned above, and constructions such as the common Irish habit of saying "it is" rather than "yes" (which arises because the Irish [Gaelic] language doesn't really have a word for "yes"). As soon as English began to be taught in Ireland, it was standard English that was taught, not a pidgin, and so English as spoken in Ireland is not a creole.

[A creole is defined as a pidgin which has become the first language, and a pidgin is an artificially simplified language which is taught to enable communication between speakers of different languages. Examples: Pidgin Motu was taught in New Guinea so that island police officers could talk to one another. It's no-one's first language, but is still used between speakers of different local languages. The Pidgin originally taught in Jamaica has become the standard language of that island, and is now a creole called Jamaican English. The Jamaicans call it "patwa", but in linguistics patois is another word for dialect - patwa is not, in fact, a patois.]

If John were to write using words like "chava" and "it is", he would be writing perfectly correct English. And if he were to write "whiskey", he would be spelling correctly, as that is how the stuff is spelt in Ireland.

Finally, "chava" interests me. It's used in parts of Ireland, and it's also used in Carlisle. That might lead one to imagine that it's Celtic in origin - a lone survivor of Cumbrian Gaelic which otherwise died out in the 18th century. (The other Cumbrian Gaelic which some may have encountered is the numbers: yan, tyan, tethera, methera and so on. They were used at Keswick Livestock Market until the 1960s.)

But it's not. It's a Romany word, and the Romany people did settle in Ireland and Cumbria in larger numbers than in other parts of the land. The modern term of abuse "chav" is basically the same word, although used with a different meaning. I believe that "chav" in its modern sense has been used in Chatham for twenty years or more, and was picked up by Chris Evans when he started going on about Chatham Girls. The Ginger One may therefore have done a lot to introduce the term to the wider population.

 
gerontius grumpus
42166.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 1:06 pm Reply with quote

Cumbrian Gaelic?

From what I have read, I have been led to understand that the Cumbrians were Brythonic Celts speaking a P Celtic language as opposed to the Q Celtic (Gaelic) languages of the Goidelic Celts.

My information might be out of date, perhaps AndyE and partner can help.

 
mckeonj
42183.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 3:24 pm Reply with quote

To AndyE: When I used the word "chava" I spelt it in the contemporary way, in my youth it was pronounced as if spelt "shaver", and in that spelling it can be found in Dickens and other authors, usually as the doublet "young shaver". Brewer's DOPP has an absurd etymology for "shaver" meaning "young man"; aint it astonishing how some scholars will perform the most amazing gymnastics in order to avoid ascribing words to Arabic, Romany or "Celtic" origins. I wonder why? Anyroad, I think I should clarify my own linguistic background for you.
I was born in Old Windsor in Berkshire in 1934, the family moved to the Bournemouth area soon after, and moved around quite a lot in Hampshire and Dorset. Mother was part Romany, from the Smith (Petulengro) group of Edenbridge in Kent. Father was born of Irish parents in Penang, British Malaya, where his father was a Colonial Police officer and rubber planter; my father Clifford was brought up by servants and nurses, speaking kitchen Chinese and Malay before he learned English. So talk in my childhood was peppered with foreign words and phrases, like "Chintah!" (Burmese=romantic love) "Pucketary" (Romany=a pretty pickle), "shiv" (Romany=knife) and others. I also spent time in the New Forest, around Brockenhurst. I did my military service in RAF, and was sent to the Joint Services School for Linguists where I was taught Russian; other graduates of that school include Dennis Potter, Alan Bennett, and Jack Rosenthal, all masters of the written-to-be-spoken word, which I am not. I moved to Ireland with family in 1975, and live quietly in County Limerick. I have a deep interest in words and language, but I am no linguist. Thank you for replying to my "innocent little" question.
PS: is there a proper word for "the written-to-be-spoken word"?
Do svidanya!

 
AndyE
42204.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 6:47 pm Reply with quote

Hi well it's Suze again (I don't know anything about any other subject, so I only post on language issues and then I use Andy's login!)

First of all, great info on "chava". I didn't know that some pronounced it "shaver" - and that thus it was the same phrase as "young shaver", which is still used in some parts. I have to agree that certain works go to extreme lengths to avoid ascribing words to Romany and the Celtic languages. A lot of Romany words are themselves Sanskrit in origin and have passed down into Hindi as well, and a person speaking pure Romany would be better understood in India than in most other places. I'll not go further into "chav" here since it has a post all of its own elsewhere on this board.

Interesting that you used the word "chava" though. You could have picked it up off your part-Romany mother or your Irish-extraction father, but did your childhood friends use it as well (and spell it as you do rather than "shaver")? If so, it's significant to those like me who study British dialect and will get added to my notes.

Straits Chinese is interesting as well. It's probably best classified as a creole, but then Bahasa Malay is really a creole as well. The ultimate is the so-called Singlish spoken in Singapore, which has elements of three kinds of Chinese, Malay and the very similar Indonesian, Tamil, English and lots of others.

Moving on to the Celtic Cumbrian tongue. It's very much an open topic. For a long time, received academic wisdom was that the Cumbrians spoke a Brythonic (aka p-Celtic) language - in which case "Cumbrian Welsh" might be a better term. It was also held that the Picts spoke a Brythonic language, which would explain why place names such as Penicuik near Edinburgh are more like Welsh or Cornish names than Scottish Gaelic or Irish names.

But more recent scholars are leaning towards the other view. The language of the Picts *could* have been Goidelic (aka q-Celtic). It is possible to derive Penicuik from extant Irish words as well as from extant Welsh words, so the place name argument is not convincing either way. This one is open, and there are people whose research speciality it is (not me though).

At a non-academic level, I tend towards "Cumbrian Gaelic" for two reasons. First, it makes geographical sense for the Cumbrian language to be similar to the Scottish, Irish and Manx languages rather than to the Welsh, Cornish and Breton languages. Second, the word Carlisle seems to be Goidelic (cathar luail in Scottish Gaelic). Those numbers are closer to Welsh than to Irish though, so who knows.

I don't know if Melvyn Bragg reads these pages, but if he should happen to drop by, perhaps he could let us know what he thinks - he knows more about the history of Cumbria than most ...

 
gerontius grumpus
42208.  Fri Dec 30, 2005 7:40 pm Reply with quote

Thanks to Suze in AndyE's login for an interesting reply. It's extremely useful having a genuine linguist on the forum.

The Scotti from Ireland must have settled in Cumbria as they did in Pembrokeshire but isn't the name Cumbria a clue to it's Welsh affinity?

Penicuik is in Lothian which gets its name from the Votadini tribe as does Gwynedd.
In the books that I've read, Lothian and Strathclyde are described as "Welsh" regions and the Picts are placed in the far north of Scotland.

Several tribes in pre-Roman 'Scotland' share names with Tribes further south such as the Cornovii in north east Scotland and Shropshire and the Damnonii in Strathclyde and Dumnonii in Devon and Cornwall.
So perhaps the distinction between P and Q Celtic is quite blurred.

Oh and I've just remembered, the French name for Wales, Pays de Galles.

On a different point, I find it quite interesting that Gaelic as Scots Gaelic is pronounced differently to Gaelic as Erse Gaelic despite being spelt the same way.

 
gruoch
42241.  Sat Dec 31, 2005 8:15 am Reply with quote

<<in my youth it was pronounced as if spelt "shaver", and in that spelling it can be found in Dickens and other authors, usually as the doublet "young shaver".>>

New information! I love it! I have posted elsewhere re: Romany origins of 'charva' and 'gadji' but had never made the connection between 'charva' and 'shaver'. Obvious, though, now it's been pointed out.

 
mckeonj
42253.  Sat Dec 31, 2005 10:26 am Reply with quote

I can add to the list of my dialect words thus:
yan, tan, lethery, pethery. pimp; words for counting animals, or counting out in childrens' games.
diddakoi - non-romany travelling person, Irish tinker
latchiki - romany travelling alone, away from the family
patteron - intimate knowledge of whereabouts of other family members, something akin to "twin link".
Incidentally, my father, Clifford, who was sent "home" to school in England from Singapore at age seven, returned to Singapore a young adult, and got a post as teacher of English at the Chinese School in Singapore.

 
gruoch
42275.  Sat Dec 31, 2005 12:43 pm Reply with quote

Is diddakoi dialect?

 
gerontius grumpus
42299.  Sat Dec 31, 2005 6:44 pm Reply with quote

Dreckly is a slightly interesting Cornish dialect word, it means "this day, next day, sometime, never" or eventually.

It is obviously a diminution of directly, but quite interstingly it is used in Victorian literature, as 'directly'to mean eventually. You might expect it to mean something a bit more urgent than eventually.

It's in alice in Wondeland.

 
mckeonj
42340.  Sun Jan 01, 2006 8:01 am Reply with quote

gerontius grumpus wrote:
Dreckly is a slightly interesting Cornish dialect word, it means "this day, next day, sometime, never" or eventually.

It is obviously a diminution of directly, but quite interstingly it is used in Victorian literature, as 'directly'to mean eventually. You might expect it to mean something a bit more urgent than eventually.

It's in alice in Wondeland.

and, equally oddly, 'presently' used to mean 'now', but the mode is 'later'.

 
Frances
42357.  Sun Jan 01, 2006 10:35 am Reply with quote

I've heard 'dreckly' used only in the phrase, 'dreckly minute' - 'Okay, okay, don't get your knickers in a twist, I'll do it dreckly minute!'

 
gerontius grumpus
42417.  Sun Jan 01, 2006 7:19 pm Reply with quote

I now live in the north east of England which still has a wealth of dailect words and expressions, some of which are virtually unknown outside the region.
When I first came up here I had no idea what they meant by
'a sharp lowse.'
I was surprised to find that they really did use words like 'divn't'
and marra.

 
WordLover
42519.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 11:09 am Reply with quote

gruoch wrote:
<<in my youth it was pronounced as if spelt "shaver", and in that spelling it can be found in Dickens and other authors, usually as the doublet "young shaver".>>

New information! I love it! I have posted elsewhere re: Romany origins of 'charva' and 'gadji' but had never made the connection between 'charva' and 'shaver'. Obvious, though, now it's been pointed out.
I love it too! Though chav and chava/charva/charver derive from Romany "chavo" meaning "boy", they are used of males and females alike. IME the occurrences of "young shaver" are with one exception applied exclusively to males (the exception being in a pastiche). Can it be used of a female?

 
djgordy
42564.  Mon Jan 02, 2006 1:49 pm Reply with quote

WordLover wrote:
IME the occurrences of "young shaver" are with one exception applied exclusively to males (the exception being in a pastiche). Can it be used of a female?


You wouldn't ask that if you'd seen some of the girls I've been out with.

 

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