The joys of language

Thanks to the Geordie Dictionary

For reasons that are entirely obscure, I chose to respond to this week’s Writers Group task by composing a poem in the Geordie dialect. Unfortunately, my ears have been corrupted by years of Robbie Burns Nights and Scottish idiomatic turns of phrase, and so my first effort was an unwieldy mishmash of sounds pulled out of the air (or pu’ed out the ayre as Burns might have had it). To say nothing of the corruption my flat Canadian midwest vowels have gone through in their transition to central Pennsylvania, London, and finally Northumberland.

Thank goodness our son, who grew up here in Northumberland and can adopt a Geordie accent professionally, has been able to cast his eye over my piece and together we’ve cobbled together a poetic effort that, I hope, hangs together better as a frank Geordie folk tale. And, of course, a deeper delve into the Geordie Dictionary has helped immensely.

But what fun it’s been, to try to get one’s mind around the different lingos and to parse together some sort of a story, with a bit of rhyme and rhythm in poetic stanzas. This morning I feel like exalting the differences between us, between our ways of speaking and communicating.

Considering that the writerly task was to re-mythologise one of the ancient Greek myths, bringing them up-to-date with a modern sensibility, the sense of the timelessness of language and understanding of our humanity is wonderful to experience.

I hope my effort, nearing completion bar the recording of our son declaiming, will exhibit some of that universality of being a verbally-communicating human.

One response to “The joys of language”

  1. Larry,  Your May 7, Joys entry created curiosity & struck a chord with me. I’ve long been fascinated by the many dialects & languages of Britain. I’ve watched a detective TV program in Welsh & one with Scottish actors with subtitles as well as programs with various accents so thick(to me) that I could not have watched them without subtitles. It was even helpful to use subtitles with the 1970s version of All Creatures Great & Small. I had to go to the internet to find out more about Geordie. I even listened to a couple of young men speaking it. I could get the gist of what they were saying. I hope you’ll post your poem written in Geordie. I had to reflect on my own manner of speech as you described the various influences on your own speech. I didn’t think there was such a thing as a Harrisburg accent until a Temple University student told me I had one. I already knew I used multicultural idioms & sentence structure from the influence of coal region, PA Dutch (Deuschte). We freely placed verbs at the beginning of sentences as in ‘throw me down the steps my…’  I was already saying “g’wan” when I heard Mrs. Doyle say it on Father Ted. I’d like to know what your son does since reading that he “can adopt a Geordie accent professionally”. Write On, Henry PS. Did you know Gary Gates learned PA Dutch & even wrote a humorous dictionary of English words as spoken by Dutchmen in Lebanon County? I think it’s on Amazon.Sent from my Galaxy


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