Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Feeling Whammy













Yesterday's Guardian carries an article on a translation firm's recruitment of Geordie translators.

Despite an initial unfortunate conflation of accent and dialect, this is an interesting piece, informing us, for example, that a dialect glossary had to be issued to doctors in South Yorkshire in 2004 and updated this year to assist them in understanding relevant terms.

One must wonder, though, whether this exercise is not simply a canny way of garnering publicity for Today Translations. The company MD states that "We see a need for providing interpreters for English as it is really spoken in different parts of the country." In other words, we cannot be sure that there will be a real job at the end of it or a stand-by list of individuals who may never be called upon to use their skills.

An associate of the Blether Region once spoke to a member of the Northumbrian Language Society, who told him that Scots was a dialect of Northumbrian, which, historically speaking, it is — albeit usually rather more differentiated than its parent.

The settlement of Northern Britain by Angles rather than Saxons, the Danelaw, and — for literary Scots at least — the northern scribal school have all cast a long shadow. How to preserve that shadow without, as currently threatened in Northern Ireland, ushering in a new darkness is a question as pressing today as ever.

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