“In a nation of immigration, the English language is one common trait we can rally behind,” said Mauro E Mujica. Let’s look at the bigger picture from a global perspective. Out of the 7.5billion Homosapien on earth, approximately 1.5billion speak the English language. That’s whopping 20%! Today, English is almost a one size fits all stretch language. English is no longer just a common tongue. It has grown from many roots. The far corners of the earth gave birth to the international dialects of English. Some so distinctive and peculiar sounding one can hardly tell it is the same language.
As the world constantly evolves, so must our communication skills. Speaking a language can only get us thus far, but communicating a dialect can instill a sense of belonging and trust in the hearts of people.
Are you looking for an English voice for a voice acting, voice over or audio ads project? Let’s dig deeper beneath the mainstream surface of the language. We’ll discuss the origins and applications of the English language.
History of the English Language
The English language goes back to about 1,400 years ago. It is a West Germanic language originating from Anglo Frisian dialects brought into Britain from the fifth to seventh centuries.
How English Evolved
English is resilient and ever accommodating. It has remarkably adopted nuances, vocabulary, and grammar from many cultures through different eras. It survives wars, colonization, and potential extinction. English dates back to Neolithic times, the era of the late stone age. That was diversified into many languages that exist today. Such include the main language groups of Italic, Germanic, Albanian and Indo-Iranian.
1. The Indo-European
Neolithic English evolved and Indo-Europeans in Central Asia and Eastern Europe spoke the language. It then evolved into Old English through the ages of 450 to 110AD. Old English sounded nothing like English today although almost about half of the vocabulary has old English roots. Latin alphabet replaced the runic system and inscriptions in the eighth century.
2. The Middle Ages
Duke of Normandy conquered England between 1100 and 1500. This brought along the French language that became incorporated as part of the Royal court. During this period, there was a division as lower classes spoke English and the upper, French. English became once again dominant in the 14th century with the influences of many new French vocabularies. This is the era of Middle English.
3. The Early Modernization
A great vowel shift began in the ages of 1500 to 1800. The British had international contact from people around the world. English thus evolved again with the shortening of vowels. The Renaissance of Classical learning inspired the addition of new vocabulary and phrases. The invention of printing also made the language more standardized and widespread. Spelling and grammar became part of the system when the first English dictionary got published in 1604.
4. Late Modern English
Finally, English as we know it today! The main difference between early modernization and now is the constant addition of new words arising from the periods of the industrial revolution and the great rule of the British Empire.
Today, the two main forms of the language are American English and British English. This is due to the influence of worldwide entertainment and media through cinema, television, and music. Of course as English continues to evolve, we see different varieties including American, Australian, Canadian, South African, and even Caribbean English.
What are English Dialects?
In order to understand the international dialects of English, we must first dive into the definition and comprehend the differences between a dialect, language, and accent.
What is Language?
Governmental bodies and the media use languages as an official means of communication. Unlike dialects, languages include a standardized code in both written and spoken form.
A sentence example in the form of language: I will not be going to work today.
What is Dialect?
A dialect is a form of language that might or might not have been adopted as an official means of communication by governmental bodies. Standard English we speak and understand today is a form of dialect. Dialects are usually geographically tied to a region or a group of people. Different from accents, but similar to languages, they include a vernacular spoken code system without a standardized written form. Dialects, however, unlike accent are usually inclusive of grammar, vocabulary, and pronunciation. Many individuals hold their native dialects close to their hearts as it is the language they were born into.
A sentence example in the form of a dialect: I ain’t going to school today.
What is an Accent?
An English accent is solely vocal. It is simply the way we sound when we speak. This comprises of the way we pronounce words and the different tones we say sentences in. Both languages and dialects can be spoken with different accents.
A sentence example in the form of an accent: I ain’t gonna go to school today.
The Importance of English Dialects
Someone once said, “Respect every dialect. It will be the mother of a newborn language.” Official languages have risen from the common tongue of dialects, so the quote holds much truth. But why bother with the complication of dialect variety when everyone understands English? The number one indispensable reason? Successful regional localization.
Have you ever felt welcomed home simply by being surrounded by the familiar dialect of your hometown? Marketing is no longer just about being understandable. In today’s competitive market, speaking international dialects of English can help you build a heartfelt connection with your consumers. Here are some top reasons on why you should communicate through accurate dialects:
- Dialects are often specific to geography. It can help brands better connect with consumers in the nuances of the local community.
- They can play a part in emotional marketing, which is a proven strategy in branding. Nostalgia and comfort can be evoked when a dialect consumer has grown up with is used.
- Specific use of English dialects and English accents allows more targeted consumer segmentation. This resonates with the audience and can lead to higher conversions.
- Communicating in a familiar dialect can help brands build a rapport with consumers. This will help your brand gain their trust through sincerity and authenticity.
International Dialects of English
Nelson Mendela said, “Without language, one cannot talk to people and understand them. One cannot share their hopes and aspirations, grasp their history, appreciate their poetry, or savor their songs.” To know your audience’s dialect thus is to make a sincere connection with them. The International Dialects of English Archive has recorded approximately 1,500 dialect samples from 120 regions worldwide. You can visit the site to listen to sample clips from around the world map in order to learn the dialects here. This article will help you decipher some of the major English dialects below:
American English Dialects
America consists of approximately 24 English dialects on record. Here are a few more distinctive sounding ones:
1. Hudson Valley Dialect
Originally a Dutch colony, New York’s English dialect is influenced by Dutch as it evolved over the years. An example of a word includes “crullers”, which are doughnuts invented by the Dutch.
2. Pennsylvania German-English Dialect
German speakers influence this Pennsylvanian Deutsch dialect. For example, doughnuts are called “fasnacht”. “Dunking” was added to the vocabulary from the German word “dunken” which means to dip.
3. Gullah Dialect
The population of people on the coastal islands of South Carolina and Georgia speaks this creole dialect. It incorporates West African languages including Hausa, Vai, Twi, Kongo, Ibo Wolof and more. Some examples of adopted vocabulary include the words “juju” meaning magic, “samba” meaning to dance and “gumbo” which refers to okra.
Canadian English Dialects
There are approximately 8 major English dialects in Canada. They are as below:
1. Aboriginal Canadian English
Spoken in the Yukon, Nunavut and north-western territories.
2. Cape Breton English
Spoken in Nova Scotia. Words containing a “s” is usually pronounced with a “th” sound.
3. Ottawa Valley English
Spoken in Ontario and Quebec. Irish and Scottish languages influence this dialect. The words “for to” are used a lot in the context “She went to the market for to buy a fish.”
4. Quebec English
Spoken in Quebec. The dialect is greatly influenced by the French language, which is sometimes called “Frenlish”. Examples include “close the television” instead of “switching off the television”.
5. Inland Canadian English
Spoken in Alberta, Manitoba, and Saskatchewan. This Canadian English is very similar sounding to American English except for a few British sounding exceptions.
6. Pacific West Coast English
Spoken in British Columbia and Yukon. It has the influence of Californian English. An example is the word “stick” is pronounced as “steck”.
7. Lunenburg English
Spoken in Nova Scotia. It consists of German language characteristics heavily influenced by German settlers. For example, words with “w” are pronounced with a “v” instead just like in the German language.
8. Newfoundland English
Spoken in Labrador, Newfoundland and Prince Edward Island. Influenced by British colonization, some distinctive sentences include “where ya at” instead of “where are you”.
United Kingdom Accents
Great Britain is made up of more than 37 dialects when last accounted for. Here are 3 common ones:
1. Scottish English
With shared DNA with Irish English, the dialect even varies from community to community. It has increasingly gained influence from Nordic languages and the accent grows thicker in more remote areas.
2. Cockney English
Working-class Londoners commonly speak the famous Cockney English dialect. One example characteristic of the dialect is the pronunciation of “th” as replaced by an “f” sound.
3. Yorkshire English
As a big county in England, many speak the tongue. There are distinct characteristics in the pronunciation of some words. For example, you say “eh” instead of “ee”. This goes for words ending in “ee” sound. The word “party” thus becomes “parteh”.
More commonly known as EU English, European English originated from continental Europe. Institutions of the European Union uses it as an official language. 38% of the people n the EU speak English as a foreign language. Native languages such as French and German greatly influence the birth of English dialects in the region. For example, the plural “s” is added to some words that are deemed uncountable and incorrect in American and British English. Such include “information’s” which came from the French language.
South African English Dialects
South Africa speaks 3 main dialects namely White, Black and Indian South African English. The upper class speaks White South African English which is influenced by Australian English. Black South African English, a relatively new dialect, originates from the South African school system. Indigenous African languages influence the dialect greatly. Lastly, Indian South African English incorporates Indian languages by immigrants in the country. Older non-natives from less educated backgrounds tend to speak this dialect.
Asian English Dialects
It is impossible to know how many dialects there are considering the number of languages spoken throughout the region. One example is “Singlish”. Singapore’s history comprises immigrants from China, India, America, the UK, Malaysia, and Indonesia. Thus giving rise to an English dialect influenced by Tamil, Chinese dialects, and Malay. One example is to add the sound “lah”, “lor”, or “leh” behind the end of each sentence. The influence of the Mandarin language also shortened the pronunciation and formation of many sentences. For example, “Why like that one” means “why is it like that.” in standard proper English.
To End It All
We can learn but we simply can’t speak every tongue. The native languages and culture of historic settlers all around the world influence the birth of international dialects of English. While we can’t imitate all dialects. But there’s always an option to outsource your project to a native speaker.
If so, always trust recommendations! Platforms like this one allow you to pick from a myriad of English dialects appropriate for your use at affordable rates. You can even outsource your entire ad including its content, voice, and production in a specific dialect here. The clips come conveniently ready-to-use in the format that you require.
While you’re at it, remember that the English language is always a work in progress. So have some fun while you’re at it!