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Re: What is the language "British"?

On Tue, 29 Aug 2006 16:51:40 -0700, jdow wrote: [...]
> Are you sure? Do remember that there was a pocket of hillbillies
> discovered who were speaking almost pure Elisabethan English. [...]

Urban legend, unfortunately -- and likely akin to the one about incest,
which is equally false and whose origin is known -- but that's another

The fact is, Tolkien still has it right : the same tongue, *any* tongue,
in places largely or entirely isolated from one another, *will* change in
both, just because languages, like other living organisms, do change --
grow or die. All known examples fit. But with nothing to keep them
coordinated, they will diverge gradually into two -- such as Sindarin and
Quenya, or Platt and Swiss German. It's going on now in the Koreas :


And for the matter of that, as those of us who live here know perfectly
well, Appalachian dialect is *not* Shakespearean, contrary to popular
imagination elsewhere.

But it has developed largely apart (largely, not entirely!) from dialects
in other parts of the country, and many things have changed in different
ways; some have even changed in one stream but not the other.

The idiolect of one lady I know in East Tennessee (and probably of others
in her generation who're still around) does not contain the form "isn't."
She says "'tis not," always and only. That detail is unchanged from
Elizabethan times, yes; but others are as changed as in Maine, or Texas,
or Scotland, or Queensland -- or South Africa or India -- some of them
even in like ways.

A guy I went to grad school with, who came from Northern Indiana, was (and
may still be) studying the German dialect of a little town near the
Michigan border. It was known to have been settled by people all from one
little town in Northern Germany. So he could compare the way it is now
with the way people talk in the German town now. He happened, by accident
of birth, to have a head start in a field well known across the continents
and the centuries.

Beartooth Staffwright, PhD, 
historian of literature and of tongues. 
Just this once, I happen to be professionally
acquainted with what I am talking about.

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