A Question about dialects and pronunciation

Page Stephens hpst at EARTHLINK.NET
Wed Feb 18 20:28:05 UTC 2004

Has anyone else had my experience?

Back in the 1950s I bought a Stinson record by the late Ewan MacColl on
which he sang a number of songs in his variant of Scottish dialect and
pronunciation which were entirely incomprehensible to me.

After listening to them a few times, however, I understood the words and
from that point in time on I have been unable to recreate my initial
wonderment about what the hell he was saying.

The same thing happened to me when an English friend of mine introduced me
to The Goon Shows which starred Peter Sellers, Spike Milligan and Harry
Secombe. I didn't know what the hell they were saying but once I learned to
understand the various pronunciations they used I could never again
understand how in the hell I didn't understand them the first time I had
heard them and the same thing goes for Trinidadian which puzzled me the
first time I heard it but which now after having lived on the island for
some six months back in the '60s is clear as a bell.

To be honest with you I be vexed about this phenomenon and would be
interested if there is any literature on the subject.

Page Stephens

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