Reflect on the role English has played in your life. U214 Worlds of English
What languages or dialects were you exposed to when you were growing up?
Lancashire, Derbyshire and Yorkshire dialects.
Who had the most influence on the language you learnt as a child?
Parents, neighbours and school teachers.
How did your education affect your attitudes to language?
No problems in junior school where I developed a love of reading and writing. The last teacher was Miss Astley and she spoke in a more refined voice. She was referred to by some pupils a ghastly Astley simply because that was how to pronounce her name (gh)Astley.
Grammar school - teachers were determined to knock out traces of dialect and made a mockery of 'mispronunciation'. I/we ended up adapting by speaking dialect with classmates and 'proper' English to teachers.
In lower 3 alpha we had our headmistress as English teacher. I still remember to this day.
'First we shall have bread, and then we will have cake'.
1. Grammar in all its nuances, parsing nouns and pronouns, spelling and punctuation.
2. Cake - Homer's 'Odyssey'.
Were there any experiences related to language from your school days which have left a strong impression on you?
Miss Astley introduced us to poetry, I still remember parts of 'Moonlit Apples' (Drinkwater) and
'Silver' (de la Mare)
Slowly, silently, now the moon
Walks the night in her silver shoon;
but never 'forgave' her mentioning 'While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.'
Winter by Shakespeare
When icicles hang by the wall,
And Dick the shepherd blows his nail,
And Tom bears logs into the hall,
And milk comes frozen home in pail,
When blood is nipp’d and ways be foul,
Then nightly sings the staring owl,
Tu-who, a merry note,
While greasy Joan doth keel the pot.
Miss Charlton introduced me to Homer, the school library helped me learn more about Myths and Legends. There I also came across Tolkien and saved up a long time until one by one I bought hard back copies of the LoTR. This in turn led me to discover 'Tree and Leaf', 'Farmer Giles of Ham' to name but two. Hence a developing love of etymology a fascination with words.
Grammar school taught English, Latin and French. Oh what a relief to be allowed to drop Latin after two years, yet I'm thankful as it really has helped improve my vocabulary and understanding of terminology.
How have the activities you've engaged in since school (e.g. work, family life, pastimes) affected your language use?
Teacher training when we had to choose a children's book to review and I chose 'Land of Green Ginger'.
Teaching Practice in a junior school (Wigan) where the class took to me as I could speak their 'language'. I understood why some would write 'fur' as in it's not fur (fair). Similarly teaching in Merseyside and picking up on dialect inspired spelling errors.
Holidays in Cornwall and having to get to grips with older folk who spoke what some termed 'proper Cornish', It took a long while to tune in by listening carefully until I could hold a conversation with some. Getting used to being called 'Maid' or 'Pard' hearing sayings such as 'madder do ee?' and its obligatory response, 'damned ee No!' Learning that much used word 'drekkly' the Cornish version of mañana. Better translated as 12th of never in the case of Cornwall.
Inadvertently recorded my self when I forgot to switch off the answer machine and was surprised how much of my Northern intonation remains. I know my speech changes when I head North to be amongst friends, similarly the vocab I used changed when in Cornwall. Conversations with Dutch friends, noticing how my spoken English changes when talking with them. The Dutch folk I have come across have been very good linguists. As a student said one time, 'Textbooks tend to be in English or German when studying at university.'
How lucky am I to have English as my first language.
Studies with the OU and I attempted to learn Spanish, enough to cope or get by. The satisfaction when as a class we reached the stage of reading newspapers!
Developing my knowledge of sciences and with it a wholly different scientific vocabulary. Learning the art of reading with understanding. Extending and deepening language skills with the OU Library.
Who'd have thought such 'simple' questions would lead to a long response and allow me the delight on delving into my memories?