Today I got to go to A LECTURE ABOUT THE DIALECT SPOKEN ON LINDISFARNE, something I didn't know much about at all before. I'm always a bit sceptical about getting involved with dialect (or 'local language' societies), perhaps surprisingly for those of you who know me and witness the mad happy hand-clapping that goes on whenever dialects are mentioned. When I researched Plattdeutsch, I came across all these dialect society websites and they all – northern German, northern English, or otherwise, spend about half the time insisting that they're not a dialect but a REAL LANGUAGE, as though that distinction was important or meaningful, or agreed upon in any way by linguists. I also found – not surprisingly, of course- that they were inhabited by people with a strong interest in local heritage rather than a strong interest in sociolinguistics. I love Northumberland, obvs, but I'm not planning to clad myself head to toe in Northumbrian tartan when my main interest is the way in which people speak, and not just in Northumberland, but in lots of other places too. And finally, I find that language societies often place a strong emphasis on language preservation. I'm not sure how I feel about 'artificially' preserving a language/dialect like that – I find it fun to listen to the way people spoke 50 years ago, but I wouldn't go so far as to say that this is the way people should be speaking now. And if we are going to do language preservation, I'm not convinced that setting up societies, which by their nature are exclusive, is the best way to do it. It's like an anecdote I discovered from a linguist who'd studied Plattdeutsch, and he talked about elderly gentlemen in German going along to these Plattdütsche Kringen, and happily chat away in Plattdeutsch over their cups of Frisian tea – but if they met each other on the street or otherwise outside of their club, they'd speak standard German.

Anyway, quite the tangent there. The lecture was REALLY GOOD. I'd never really thought about what a Holy Island dialect might sound like, because while I've been there a few times, I don't think I've spoken to an actual 'native', which is perhaps not surprising as there are only about 80 of them. From the clips we heard, it sounded closest to the Berwick accent, but with some unusual features too. It was fun, because even as someone new(ish) to Northumberland, there was a clear difference between how they spoke and, say, someone from Amble. There is a whole linguistic corpus of these samples, and I am emailing to request access to it today. The lecturer ALSO quoted the author of a book I picked up on visit no. 5,823 to Sweden called 'The Northumbrian Burr'. I've now got an idea of what the Northumbrian burr actually is, and I'm sure I've heard it used (Thropton apparently is a good place to go burr-spotting), so I'm going to keep an ear out for it from now on, because it was apparently pretty rare even in the 1950s. Also, it's bad luck to say the word 'pig' on Lindisfarne. It reminded me of reading about an island where it's bad luck to say 'rabbit'. I like these strange facts.

Aw, the whole thing made me want to do more 'academic dialectology stuff' with my life again. It was right to drop out of Oldenburg uni when I did, because I was so miserable and didn't know anyone in Germany and was too terrified of everyone to go and talk to people property. But still, the academic stuff I did there wasn't meaningless, at least not to me. I wrote an essay about non-convergent discourse between speakers of standard German and Plattdeutsch. It wasn't the most polished thing I've ever written, but there was something in it – I don't think it has been studied much before (probably because there isn't much convergent discourse anyway – if a speaker of Plattdeutsch encounters someone speaking standard German, they'd almost always switch to standard German unless they were trolling). I think when, like me, you're blessed with boundless enthusiasm for very specfic things, universities beckon. Or you just go there and hope they pay you to study the fun things, I don't know. I'd like to do it again.

I also bought A HOE. A CHEAP DUTCH HOE, the jokes write themselves. I didn't go to the allotment today – such shock! Because it takes a while to get to Morpeth, and also in the morning I was mostly sleeping. I will go tomorrow, though. Need to put up netting and also do general weeding, because it's unbelievable how quickly weeds reappear. I know that's a cliched thing to say, but it's TRUE, it's like you turn your back and suddenly, there they are. I should also be researching getting a 'smart phone', as my current phone is in the habit of thinking it's January 1980, and no matter how many times I try and change it, it remains convinced. This has quite the impact on my weekday alarm, which in turn, has had quite the impact on my punctuality in the morning.

OH I finally booked a driving theory test. I'd forgotten you could book on a Saturday, so 20th December is the day, unless I change it, which I might do if I continue to faff around and go to dialectology lectures instead of learning 'what is car'.

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