Monday, July 16, 2007

Language endangerment in Yorkshire

Several members of the British Parliament took a few minutes out from worrying about issues like Iraq, the housing shortage, and global warming to put together an Early Day Motion expressing their concern about the fate of the Yorkshire dialect:
That this House is concerned at the recently published research indicating that words are disappearing from the Yorkshire dialect because of the influence of the internet, social mobility and globalisation; and furthermore supports the work of the Yorkshire Dialect Society in continuing to promote what is, after all, the best English regional accent in the world.
The amendments proposed are also worth a look, featuring such phrases as "a slow national convergence towards the monochrome mush of effete estuarial English". For what it's worth, I am rather inclined to agree that Yorkshire may have "the best English regional accent in the world" - although two MPs proposed to amend this to "after the Lancashire accent" - and I'm glad to see a bit of appreciation for dialectologists, but I find it difficult to be all that concerned about the loss of a few well-documented local words (supposedly due to people watching national media and getting out more) in a fairly widely spoken dialect of one of the world's most flourishing languages, when whole languages are disappearing virtually undocumented every month due to factors like kidnapping children or beating them when they speak their language.

8 comments:

bulbul said...

On the other hand, this kind of media attention may be just what the doctor prescribed: it may (ان شاء الله) lead to more interest in those languages that are really endangered and draw more attention to them.
As a native speaker of a local dialect, I kinda sympathize with those MPs. But as you said it, it's kinda difficult to get all worked up over a dialect of English, especially once you think of, say Soqotri.

Joseph B. said...

Eat your dialect! You know, there are starving children in Africa!

Anonymous said...

Hello,

Have you noticed that, whenever you quote text, the main text following the quote is single- rather than double-spaced? This doesn't bother me; I just wondered if you were aware of it.

Nouri said...

To anon, the Blogger layout that Lameen uses tends to bunch up spaces after a certain point in most posts. I used to use it, and had the same issue. It is part of the Minima Blogger background.

About the post though, I'm curious to hear what this Yorkshire dialect sounds like. Any references, Lameen?

Lameen Souag said...

There seems to be some audio at http://epc.buffalo.edu/linebreak/programs/mccaffery/ .

I like local dialects too, especially Algerian Arabic ones - but I'm betting Slovak ones are a lot less well documented than Yorkshire. What's your dialect like?

Anon: I've noticed, but haven't found a way around it yet.

bulbul said...

Lameen,

'lot less documented' doesn't even begin to cover it, especially the further east you travel. It's all very political - the Central dialects are the priviliged ones because they form the basis for Standard Slovak, Western dialects are slightly less priviliged because that's where the capital is and the East...
Once things settle down a bit (any day now), I'll return to the subject on my own blog.

Conrad H. Roth said...

Interesting. I'll have to write a post on my copy of the Clock Almanac, a 1930s 'magazine' in Yorkshire dialect.

Anton Sherwood said...

The spacing problem should go away if you insert <p> tags rather than rely on Blogger to provide them.

Where are minor languages actively repressed these days? Not that I doubt it's going on somewhere.