Thursday, June 24, 2010

Understanding different dialects

Cumbrian twin brothers Pat and Joe Toner from Whitehaven in 1941
Pat is on the left and Joe on the right

During WW2 Whitehaven twins Pat and Joe Toner served in the RAF. The above photograph was taken outside the home of their uncle and aunt, Jack and Lizzie Finnegan in 1941, shortly before signing up. Although Pat and Joe did most of their wartime service in the UK they found, like many others in a similar situation, with the mix of nationalities and dialects in Britain during the war one difficulty was understanding - and being understood - by people who spoke a different language or dialect.

For additional information click on 'Comments' below



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Blogger ritsonvaljos said...

Additional information

Pat and Joe Toner worked as ground crew in the RAF during the war, having the rank of Leading Aircraftmen (LAC). However, it was still necessary to be able to communicate with others at the camp. On the whole there were few difficulties between people with different dialects except perhaps when people from the same area talked to each other in their 'home' dialect.

Outside of camp while socialising people speaking to each other in a strange dialect could be a source of some amusement. Pat and Joe found this a few times among their Air Force pals when they happened to meet up with friends fom back home in West Cumbria.

This is an extract from a letter Pat and Joe sent to the local weekly West Cumbrian newspaper, 'The Whitehaven News', in 1943:

L.A.C. Pat Toner and L.A.C. Joe Toner write from Hendon (London):

"In the biggest Y.M.C.A. in London we met two chaps from Hensingham (a village near Whitehaven). One was called Milburn. He is an Army bloke, whilst the other chap is in the Royal Navy. His name is Rothery and he lives just across the street from Milburn.

We had two friends from the camp with us who just sat, looking perplexed and lost, whilst us four Cumbrians jabbered away in, what was to them, a foreign tongue. Last week, just at the corner of Piccadilly, during a black-out, we were standing on the kerb when we were surprised to see a Navy chap halt the chaps who were with him and shout, "Ey, is thoo frae Whitehebbe?"

It turned out to be Bob Spedding from Lowca (another village near Whitehaven). He is in the Fleet Air Arm. He had recognised us in the black-out, mind you."

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Hence people were often able to recognise others from the same area just by hearing them speak the same dialect! However, at the same time it can be difficult for others to understand a different dialect - even as much as not being able to understand a different language.

C'est la vie!

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Thursday, 24 June, 2010  

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