English Dialectology


English is actually an unusual language. Already a blend of early Frisian and Saxon, it absorbed Danish and Norman French, and later added many Latin and Greek technical terms. In the US, Canada, Hawaii, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and elsewhere, it absorbed terms for indigenous plants, animals, foodstuffs, clothing, housing, and other items from native and immigrant languages. Plus, the various dialects, from Cockney to Jamaican, and innumerable sources of slang, from Polari to hip hop, continue to add novel terms and expressions to the mix. It is no surprise to hear from people learning English what a student once told me: English just has too many words!

Pronunciation (for our purposes):

· i: as in beet

· i as in bit

· ei as in bait

· e as in bet

· æ as in bat

· a: as in father

· å as in pot (RP)

· o as in paw

· ou as in coat

· u as in cook

· u: as in kook

· œ as in but

· ‘ as in ago

· yu: as in cute

· ai as in kite

· oi as in coy

· au as in cow

· c as in church

· j as in judge

· th as in thin

· dh as in then

· sh as in shush

· zh as in azure

· ng as in ring

· hw as in whale

· hy as in huge

· ü as in German

· ö as in French

· kh as in Scottish loch (lokh)

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