August 22, 2007

Gratuitous Royal Navy Geekery - Obscure Mutineer Dialects Division

This is interesting: The UN has got interested in saving the language of the Norfolk Islanders, the descendants of the mutineers from H.M.A.V. Bounty. The language is a hodge-podge of English West Country burr and Polynesian add-ons. Here are some samples:

Watawieh Hello

All yorlye gwen? How are you all?

Kushu I'm fine

I car foot I don't know

I gut ar hillie I'm in a lazy mood

Hui-hui Appallingly dirty and smelly

Fut you ally comey diffy and do daffy? Why are you behaving that way?

Yu bin pat aut wan piis a' kiek f' Berel? Did you put out a piece of cake for Beryl?

Car do far dorg et Not good enough even for a dog's meal

I gwen out yena f'porpieh I'm going out yonder to get some guavas

Da nufka se tow in em moo'oo That kingfisher has settled in the flax

Sup musa dan The soup's nearly cooked

Wan kau f' mais bradhas s' orf aut My brother's cow has escaped

Hi es kain a' huihuiwan He's somewhat dirty

Dem hihi andasaid em stoen The periwinkles are under the rocks

Kat krors aa paedak aafta tii en wi gu sing Cut across the paddock after tea and come for a singsong

Orl em ailan haendikraaft iin a' shoe hau gud des iya! How good the island handicrafts are in this year's show!

If you aurally squint hard enough, you can pick up the English roots of a lot of these expressions.

This sort of thing fascinates me endlessly, and this article brings to mind something I read or heard a long time ago to the effect that in the United States the difference between a Southern drawl and a Yankee twang lies at least in part in the fact that most of the early Southerners were from the West Country, while those who settled the Northern colonies tended to come more from East Anglia, a region of England that sported a considerably different accent from that of the West Country.

Posted by Robert at August 22, 2007 03:59 PM | TrackBack

When I was in Sweden I took a Swedish language class.

Their word for knife is knive. Their word for the number two is tvo. Our word null comes from their word for zero: nol. English owes a lot to those Nordic invaders.

Posted by: Hucbald at August 22, 2007 04:18 PM

Thw whole thing makes me wonder where Britain does its atomic weapons/nerve gas testing. Surely Pitcain is as isolated as Bikini Atoll or Johnston Island.

Posted by: The Colossus at August 22, 2007 06:09 PM