Territorial differentiation of the English and Ukrainian languages

Standard English as the official language of Great Britain taught at schools and universities, used by the press, the radio and the television and spoken by educated people. Familiarity with the major groups of dialects are used in Ukrainian language.

02.10.2013
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Territorial differentiation of the English and Ukrainian languages

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1. Territorial variants of the English language

Standard English is the official language of Great Britain taught at schools and universities, used by the press, the radio and the television and spoken by educated people; it is commonly defined as that form of English which is literary, uniform and recognized as acceptable wherever English is spoken or understood.

Every language allows different kinds of variations: geographical or territorial, stylistic, the difference between the written and the spoken form and others. We shall be concerned here with the territorial variations, the others being the domain of stylistics.

For historical and economic reasons the English language has spread over vast territories. It is the national language of England proper, the USA, Australia, New Zealand and some provinces of Canada. It is the official language in Wales, Scotland, in Gibraltar and on the Island of Malta. The English language was also at different times enforced as an official language on the peoples of Asia, Africa, Central and South America who fell under British rule. It is natural that the English language is not used with uniformity in the British Isles and in Australia, in the USA and in New Zealand, etc. The English language also has some peculiarities in Wales, Scotland, in other parts of the British Isles and America.

Modern linguistics distinguishes territorial variants of a national language and local dialects.

Variants of a language are regional varieties of a standard literary language characterized by some minor peculiarities in the sound system, vocabulary and grammar and by their own literary norms.

We speak of the 5 variants of the English national language: British, American, Australian, Canadian, and Indian.

The differences between American English (AE), British English (BE), Australian English (AuE), Canadian English (CnE) are immediately noticeable in the field of phonetics, i.e. articulatory - acoustic characteristics of some phonemes, the differences in the rhythm and intonation of speech. The dissimilarities in grammar are scarce.

For the most part these dissimilarities consist in the preference of this or that grammatical category. E.g., the preference of Past Indefinite to Present Perfect in AE, the formation of the Future Tense with will for all the persons, etc. The Present Continuous form in the meaning of Future is used twice as frequently in BE as in AE, CnE, AuE.

The variations in vocabulary are not very numerous. The vocabulary of all the variants is characterized by a high percentage of borrowings from the language of the people who inhabited the land before the English colonizers came. Many of them denote some specific realia of the new country: local animals, plants or weather conditions, new social relations, new trades and conditions of labour.

In every variant there are locally marked lexical units specific to the present-day usage in one of the variants and not found in the others, i.e. Briticism, Americanisms, Australianisms, Canadianisms. They may be full and partial.

Full locally-marked lexical units are those specific to the British, American, etc. variant in all their meanings. E.g. fortnight, pillar-box are full Briticisms, campus, mailboy, drive-in are full Americanisms.

These may be subdivided into lexical units denoting some realia having no counterparts in other English-speaking countries, such as

a) the names of local animals and plants

AuE kangaroo, kaola, dingo, gum-tree

AE bullfrog (a large frog), moose (the American elk), opossum, raccoon (an American animal related to the bears), corn, hickory (for plants)

b) names of schools of learning

AE junior high school, senior high school

CnE composite high school

c) names of things of everyday life, often connected with peculiar national conditions, traditions and customs

AuE boomerang, AE drugstore, CnE float-house

AE lightning rod, super-market, baby-sitter

CnE body-check, red-line, puck-carrier (hockey terms)

Partial locally-marked lexical units are typical of this or that variant only in one or some of their meanings. In the semantic structure of such words there are meanings belonging to general English. E.g. the word pavement has four meanings:

1) street or road covered with stone, asphalt, concrete (AE)

2) paved path for pedestrians at the side of the road (BE) (in America they use the word sidewalk)

3) the covering of the floor made of flat blocks of wood, stone, etc. (general English)

4) soil (geol) - general English

The next case of lexical differences is the case when different variants of English use different words for the same objects. E.g.

Table

BE

AE

BE

AE

flat

apartment

lorry

truck

post

mail

tin

can

sweets

candy

pillar-box

mail-box

braces

suspenders

beer

ale

underground

subway

wireless

radio

railway

railroad

luggage

baggage

In the course of time due to the growth of cultural and economic ties between nations and development of modern means of communication lexical distinctions between the variants show a tendency to decrease. Locally marked lexical units penetrate into Standard English, e.g., a large number of Americanisms are widely used in BE, some of them are not recognized as aliens - reliable, lengthy, talented, belittle. Others have a limited sphere of application - fan a person enthusiastic about a specific sport, to iron out smooth out, eliminate, gimmick deceptive or secret device, to root support or encourage a team by applauding or cheering.

At the same time a number of Briticisms came into the language of the USA, e.g., smog, to brief to give instructions. Sometimes the Briticisms in AE compete with the corresponding American expressions, the result being the differentiation in meaning or spheres of application. E.g. AE store - BE shop, but in AE its use is limited, it is applied to small specialized establishments, like gift shop, hat shop, candy shop. British luggage used alongside American baggage in America differs from its rival in collocability - luggage compartment, luggage rack, but baggage car, baggage check, baggage room. In the pair autumn - fall the difference in AE is of another nature: the former is bookish, while the latter colloquial.

Regional variants of the English language have the same grammar system, phonetic system and vocabulary, so they cannot be regarded as different languages. Nor can they be referred to local dialects, because they serve all spheres of verbal communication in society, they have dialectal differences of their own, besides they have their own literary forms.

2. Local dialects in the British Isles, in the USA and in Ukraine

Local dialects are varieties of a language used as a means of oral communication in small localities, they are set off more or less sharply from other varieties by some distinctive features of pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary; they are peculiar to some districts and have no normalized literary form.

In Great Britain there are five groups of dialects:

1) Northern (between the rivers Tweed and Humber);

2) Western;

3) Eastern (between the river Humber and the Thames);

4) Southern (south of the Thames);

5) Midland.

Every group contains several dialects, up to ten.

The dialect vocabulary is remarkable for its conservatism; it is characterized by the abundance of archaic words: many words that have become obsolete in Standard English are still kept in dialects.

Local lexical peculiarities are most noticeable in specifically dialectal words pertaining to local customs, social life and natural conditions, e.g., laird landed proprietor in Scotland, burgh Scotland charted town, kirk church. There are many names of objects and processes connected with farming, such as the names of agricultural processes, tools, domestic animals, etc., e.g., galloway horse of small strong breed from Galloway, Scotland, kyloe one of small breed of long-horned Scotch cattle.

There are a considerable number of emotionally coloured dialectal words, e.g., bonny (Scot.) beautiful, healthy-looking, braw (Scot.) fine, excellent, daffy (Scot.) crazy, silly, cuddy fool, ass, loon clumsy, stupid person.

Words may have different meanings in the national language and in the local dialects, e.g., in the Scottish dialect the word to call is used in the meaning of to drive, to set - to suit, short - rude, silly - weak.

Dialectal lexical differences also embrace word-building patterns. E.g., some Irish words contain the diminutive suffixes -AN, -EEN, -CAN, as in bohaun cabin, bohereen narrow road. Some of these suffixes may be added to English bases, as in girleen, dogeen, squireen (squirrel), etc.

One of the best known Southern dialects is Cockney, the regional dialect of London. The word cockney had the meaning of a plucky chap, a fine fellow with plenty of assurance; this name was applied by country people to those who dwelt in cities. Even today there is a marked difference between the inhabitants of a large town and people living in country places. But as the population gradually increased and means of communication became more favourable, this distinction became less acute. In the 17th century the word cockney was applied exclusively to the inhabitants of London.

According to E. Partridge and H.C. Wilde this dialect exists at two levels:

1) the variety of Standard English spoken by educated lower middle class people; it is marked by some deviations in pronunciation but few in vocabulary and syntax;

2) the variety of Standard English spoken also in London but by uneducated, semi-literate and quite illiterate people; it is characterized by peculiarities in pronunciation, vocabulary, morphology and syntax. (B. Shaw's play Pygmalion).

Cockney is lively and witty; its vocabulary is imaginative and colourful. Its specific feature which does not occur anywhere else is the so-called rhyming slang, in which some words are substituted by other words rhyming with them. E.g. boots are called daisy roots, head - a loaf of bread, hat - tit for tat, wife - trouble and strife.

The local dialects in Britain are sharply declining in importance at the present time. Their boundaries have become less stable than they used to be; the distinctive features are tending to disappear with the shifting of population due to the migration of the working-class families in search of employment and the growing influence of urban life over the countryside. Dialects undergo rapid changes under the pressure of Standard English taught at schools and the speech habits cultivated by radio, TV and cinema.

On the other hand, dialectal words penetrate into the national literary language. Many frequent words of common use are dialectal in origin, such as girl, one, rapid, glamour, etc. the Irish English gave blarney flattery, bog a spongy, usually peaty ground of marsh. From Scottish English came bairn child, billy chum, bonny handsome, brogue a stout shoe, glamour charm, etc.

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