Varieties of English: An introduction to the study of by Dennis Freeborn

By Dennis Freeborn

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Sample text

All English dialects are equally complex, structured and valid linguistic systems. 5 10 15 VARIElY, CHANGE, AND THE IDEA OF CORRECT ENGLISH (2) It is a serious matter that our educational system (and others) continue to turn out, as they do, an annual crop of total illiterates, and no less serious that from otherwise able pupils we produce students who are in some sense semi-literate. Yet the inability of our schools to turn out pupils with satisfactory standards of English is not simply due to the legacy of an inappropriate English curriculum or to a shortage of appropriately qualified teachers.

You can still hear something of the effects of the Viking settlement by listening to present-day northern dialects of English. The Vikings spoke dialects of a Scandinavian language, now called Old Norse, which was sufficiently similar to Old English that speakers of the two languages 28 VARIETIES OF ENGLISH could communicate with each other. Both languages were Germanic. Many of their words were similar. But the grammatical inflections were different, so that where Vikings and English lived near each other and had regular speech together, the suffixes tended to be left off.

Exercise Compare the Old English texts with the word-for-word translation underneath. What differences in word-order are there between Old and present-day English? You can still hear something of the effects of the Viking settlement by listening to present-day northern dialects of English. The Vikings spoke dialects of a Scandinavian language, now called Old Norse, which was sufficiently similar to Old English that speakers of the two languages 28 VARIETIES OF ENGLISH could communicate with each other.

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