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29 October 2014
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Language and Place by Prof Peter Trudgill
Also on Voices
Accent-uate the positive
Why should we study language?

In Your Area
What do you think about your local accent?
Talk about Voices in your area

Did You Know?
'Booze' is an anglicised version of the word 'busen', borrowed from the Dutch term meaning to 'drink to excess'.

Page 3 of 7
1. Language and identity
2. Dialect areas
3. Origins of regional differences
4. Influence of other languages
5. Change and spread
6. The media
7. Other dialects and languages

3. Origins of regional differences

One very interesting question is: where do these regional differences in speech come from? One explanation that works for a small number of words is that the differences have always been there - ever since English has been spoken in Britain.

The English language, or its ancestor, was brought to Britain in the fourth, fifth and sixth centuries AD by raiders, mercenaries, invaders and eventually settlers from the North Sea coasts stretching from what is now the Netherlands to what is now Denmark. The Germanic dialects they brought with them - which were the ancestors of Dutch and Frisian as well as English - were already then differentiated according to where on the North Sea coast they came from. In some cases, settlement patterns led to dialect differences from the continent being transplanted to Britain. This is true of the northern dialect word oxter ('armpit') in the Anglo-Saxon period the word ocusta was confined to the same northern area of Britain where we still find oxter today.

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