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Quaintly Ignorant
78275.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 9:51 am Reply with quote

Well... when you put it like that it changes my entire outlook of American regional accents. Interesting.

 
dr.bob
78277.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 10:01 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
The problem with this is that a number of other languages use pitch accent and are not considered to "sound Welsh".


That's a shame. It was sounding quite convincing up 'till then :)

suze wrote:
The second possible answer is easier to explain. In the days of Empire, many Indians learnt the English language from teachers who were also missionaries. Many of these were Welsh, so inevitably taught English with a Welsh accent.


Hmm, that sounds less convincing to my, admittedly ignorant in this field, mind.

I get the impression that it's only certain regions of India that sound particularly Welsh. If that's true, it would imply that all the Welsh missionaries clustered in one place to the exclusion of other English teachers, which sounds odd.

I remember seeing an episode of Saturday Kitchen which had two Indian chefs on (one was that incredibly camp Reza Mohammed, and the other one was a woman who's name I forget (no, not Madhur)). Reza attempted to do a Punjabi (I think) accent, and was thoroughly mocked by the woman who claimed he sounded more Welsh than Punjabi.

 
suze
78280.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 10:29 am Reply with quote

I don't know if we have any experts on India here, but it's just possible that there were nonconformist Welsh groups who did indeed only send missionaries to certain parts of India. More research would be needed there. But if we are asserting that Punjabis sound more "Welsh" than other Indians, then this might be relevant.

If this assertion is so, our other theory runs into a problem. The people of the Punjab do not, by and large, speak Hindi as their main language. They speak Punjabi, which is tonal in a similar way to Chinese (although it has only three tones as against the four or five - depends how you count - of standard Chinese). It does not show a pitch accent in the way that Hindi and Welsh do.

We do not consider the Chinese to sound "Welsh", so the prosody of Punjabi cannot logically be the reason for people from this part of India sounding so.

On the other hand, if I've misunderstood and we are not asserting that Punjabis sound "Welsher" than other Indians, then the prosodic theory still has some life in it ...

 
Gray
78283.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 11:57 am Reply with quote

I expect it's something to do with being English - that is, I think that when English people try to do a Welsh accent, it comes out Indian, and vice-versa.

So maybe, along some kind of strangely-dimensioned axes, English, Welsh and Indian are related in ways that depend on the kind of mouth shapes that the three languages involve.

It would be interesting to see whether any non-English people think Indian and Welsh accents sound similar... I'm betting not.

 
suze
78286.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 12:09 pm Reply with quote

Sorry, but you lose!

I'm not English, and I get the similarity! Whether a non-English speaking person would note it is much less clear ...

 
mckeonj
78308.  Wed Jul 05, 2006 3:25 pm Reply with quote

For what it's worth, the sound of Welsh people conversing in English is almost indistinguishable from the sound of Cork people conversing in English, not only for lilt, but for rapidity as well. This rapidity of speech is also a factor in 'Bombay Welsh', and has not been mentioned above. The tones of Kerry are somewhat similar.
Go to Cork or Swansea of a Saturday, when the ferries take the shoppers on day trips, and listen to the 'craic'*; I defy you to separate them.

*craic is an Irish word, borrowed from English long ago, from 'crack' meaning happy chattering. "Boys-O-Boys, de craic was mighty!".
I don't know if there is a Welsh equivalent term.

 
dr.bob
78329.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 4:32 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
But if we are asserting that Punjabis sound more "Welsh" than other Indians, then this might be relevant.


That is what I'm asserting, but only very faintly as I'm not an expert on Indian accents and I'm not even sure if I'm remembering the region correctly.

Certainly India is a very large country with different dialects and accents. It's much bigger than the UK, and if you accused someone of having a UK accent you'd be generally ridiculed.

I've definitely heard many Indian accents that don't sound very Welsh at all, so I think there must be a particular type of Indian accent from a (or maybe some) certain region(s) that sounds particularly Welsh.

Blimey, sounds like there's a whole research project in there. Suze, know of any good linguistic funding bodies that might fork out a few quid? :)

 
ficklefiend
78336.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 5:42 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Quaintly Ignorant wrote:
I have to say that I never imagined Dutch/German being mixed up with American. Must be something wrong with my ears.


Nothing wrong with them at all.

But the main influences on American speech are supposed to be West Country English together with German and Dutch.


Americans find the word cheeky funny, because they say fresh. This comes from the german word frisch, meaning cheeky.

 
suze
78343.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 6:37 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
Certainly India is a very large country with different dialects and accents. It's much bigger than the UK, and if you accused someone of having a UK accent you'd be generally ridiculed.


Yes, India is big. Not as big as Canada, but very much bigger than the UK. Not only are there thousands of dialects in India, but there are hundreds of completely different languages.

There are no fewer than twenty three official languages. These include English - which hardly anyone in India speaks as their first language, but which is widely used in business and government. They also include Sanskrit - and to prove that it isn't merely a dead liturgical language, there is precisely one village in India which uses it for everyday purposes. Although they have to use a lot of Hindi and English words for modern concepts.

Hindi is styled as the "national language". It is government policy that they should move towards it being the only language used in national government, although there has been much resistance to this. Originally, this was supposed to have happened by 1965.

The other twenty languages are official in the states where they are spoken. Santali, spoken in the far east of India and in Bhutan, is one of the more interesting to people like me. It was unwritten until the 20th century, and when a writing system was devised in 1925 it used an alphabet. Alphabets are not usual in India; three of the official languages (Kashmiri, Sindhi and Urdu) are written in Arabic script - which is an abjad, not an alphabet - while all the others except English use an abugida.

dr.bob wrote:
Blimey, sounds like there's a whole research project in there. Suze, know of any good linguistic funding bodies that might fork out a few quid? :)


Isn't there just, and funding for it would probably not be too difficult either - touching wood, funding for language research is often relatively easy to obtain as compared to some other subjects. Perhaps it should go in "the book"! (As Dr B will know but others might not, "the book" is a list of topics which need researching at PhD level. Intending PhD students who don't already have a topic in mind go there for inspiration.)

 
96aelw
78347.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:23 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Alphabets are not usual in India; three of the official languages (Kashmiri, Sindhi and Urdu) are written in Arabic script - which is an abjad, not an alphabet - while all the others except English use an abugida.


Since I've drawn a blank in my dictionary, could you enlighten me as to what abjads and abugidas are? Are they variant species of syllabary, or something?

 
suze
78348.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 7:59 am Reply with quote

Sorry - I did intend to define those terms, and then I got distracted and forgot!

An abjad is a script which contains only consonants. Vowels are shown by means of diacritic marks (i.e. "accents"). In everyday Arabic they don't bother to mark the vowels - stndrd Rbc lks smthng lk ths - but they are always included in the Qur'an. Apart from the various languages written in the Arabic script, Hebrew is the only other major language to use an abjad.

An abugida is a script where the vowels are denoted by amending the way a consonant is written. The basic form of a consonant denotes that consonant followed by an neutral vowel sound (a schwa), while an amendment is made if a different vowel follows. This is best demonstrated by an example - the illustration here is in the Devanagari script used for Hindi. (As you will gather, I've cribbed this from a document about how to type in Hindi.)



Scripts of this kind are used for most of the major languages of India and South East Asia. They should not be confused with syllabic scripts (e.g. Japanese kana, Inuktitut) where the symbol for "ka" is unrelated to that for "ke" or "ta".

 
Jenny
78351.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 8:12 am Reply with quote

I was born in Bombay and lived there until I was nearly five. Although my parents were English (mother a Londoner, father a Yorkshireman) I had Indian ayahs - one until I was about eighteen months and then another until I was nearly five. When we first came back to England and I went to school, everybody thought I was Welsh because I had a slightly sing-song Anglo-Indian accent and that's how it sounds when it comes from a little white girl.

 
dr.bob
78368.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 10:16 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:
Sorry - I did intend to define those terms, and then I got distracted and forgot!


Excellent. Thanks for that. I've now learned two new words today.

I shall endeavour to slip them in to every day conversation as often as possible to appear learned and interesting :)

 
Jenny
78388.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 11:42 am Reply with quote

Looking at the Inuktitut words for 'O Canada' on another thread, would I be correct in thinking that that written language is an abugida?

 
suze
78409.  Thu Jul 06, 2006 1:21 pm Reply with quote

Good spot Jenny!

The point is arguable - we don't normally consider the Inuktitut syllabary as an abugida, but we could if we wanted to.

In a "classical abugida", such as the one illustrated for Devanagari, the regularity of structure is obvious. Now that you know the various forms for k syllables, I would only need to show you the base symbol for t and you could construct all the forms for t syllables by placing the same vowel markers around it.

Inuktitut works slightly differently, but also in a regular way. There are only three vowels in Inuktitut which makes things simpler. Let's have that Inuktitut text again as it will help.



The second character in the second word is the "na" of Kanata - the one that looks like a sideways "d".

The -u form is constructed by mirror imaging the -a form. The last word starts "nuna" so you can see how it works.

The -i form is constructed by inverting the -a form - the last character of the penultimate word is "ni". (A few of the symbols have "irregular" -i forms; no-one seems to know why.)

When a consonant stands on its own, then one uses the -a form but smaller and superscript - the second word ends with "ta", and the last character of the whole thing is "t". Oh, and the dot over the very first character denotes a doubled letter.

Where this differs from the Devanagari script is that there isn't a consistent way of showing a given vowel; confronted with an unfamiliar symbol, one couldn't immediately say that it had to be an -o form, which one could in Devanagari. This seems to be why it isn't normally considered an abugida. But if an exam answer informed me that it was one, I wouldn't mark it wrong.

It's certainly very much closer to being an abugida than are, for instance, the two kana syllabaries used for Japanese. In those, there is no relationship between the "ka" symbol and the "ko" symbol, or between "ko" and "to".

 

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