The Very Basics Of English Language :Learn English Today Part 2

 The Very Basics Of English Language :Learn English Today Part 2

Accent and Dialect

There are two possibilities here. The first concerns accent and the second concerns dialect. You might be having problems understanding someone because the accent is very strange to you ;and you might be having further problems for reasons of dialect. 

'Dialect' involves more than just pronunciation. It involves grammar as well. The person speaking to you may seem to be using a different grammar. In addition, the person may be using words you aren't familiar with : the vocabulary or lexis may be different. So, if the dialect is very strong - and strange to you - you will certainly have a serious problem. This doesn't mean that a foreign sounding dialect of English is, in fact a foreign language. It isn't. A dialect is a dialect of a particular language. It's related to a parent language. Some of the rules are different, but they aren't different enough for the dialect to be considered a completely different language. When the different is purely of one accent saying "but" to rhyme with "foot" in English, for example - things aren't too difficult. But when the order of words, or ten actual words are used too different, then we are dealing with a dialect rather than an accent.

Sometimes, writers try to show how other accents sound by using special spellings. Occasionally it works with English, but usually it doesn't. If you look at a sentence in Italian, in a phrase book, you'll find that you can say the words quite easily from the spelling. But imagine you're an Italian trying to pronounce the spelling "night"! And what about "though", "through", "trough", "enough"? 

We call the study of sounds in a language phonetics,and a special alphabet, called the phonetic alphabet, has been decided. If you've ever seen it_and you can find it used in good dictionaries _you'll see that it looks rather different from the ordinary English alphabet. It's not necessary to learn this alphabet. It's not necessary to learn this alphabet, though it can be learned quite easily. The point is that it allows people to write down exactly how a word is said, so that other people who know the phonetic alphabet can say the word. 


Pronunciation isn't just sounds, however. In some languages, people seem to sing when we tend to call languages 'musical'. But this singing occurs in English too. And we call this music 'intonation'. We can recognize when an English person asks a question. Asking questions has a different music from answering them. The intonation is different. 

When we look at spellings, by the way, we divide the letters into two kinds :consonants, which includes all of the letters in alphabet except the vowels. In English, there are only five vowels :a, e, i, o, u. People trying to learn English find that the vowels and some of the consonants sound strange and often seem in the wrong part of the word. 

Listen, also to the way you pronounce the word "rebel" when you say these two sentences :"The rebel surrendered his gun" and "Adolescents always seem to rebel against their parents". In the first sentence, the first part of the word seems strong and loud ;in the second sentence, it's the last part that sounds strong. Technically, we say that in the first "rebel" the stress in on the first part and in the second the stress is on the last part. Notice also that both words sound as if they have two parts, whereas the word "adolescent" has four. We call each part a syllable. So we can say that in our first sentence, "rebel" has the stress on the second, or last, syllable. 

The important thing is to understand what technical terms mean. If you can explain them clearly and simply to someone else, then you really understand them. If you can't have another think about them. Be convinced that grammar can be quite straightforward and comprehensible even if at first, it all looks rather forbidding. 

 But we do have to be sensitive about this matter of customs. All of us know that different societies have different customs. All of us know that different societies have different customs which are unfamiliar. That, after all, is why we speak of 'foreign' countries. They are unfamiliar, and their customs are unfamiliar. 

It's just the same with languages. Languages other than our own are 'foreign' languages. We can't behave in these languages as if they were our own. They have, above all, different grammars. Yet we can't even begin to talk about these matters until we've learned the necessary technical terms for the rules. 

That will be all for today 

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