Friday, 19 November 2010

Purrs, Pears & Oral Language

The other night I distinctly heard Mrs H saying 'I am going to have a purr'

to which I replied 'Oh, so you are going into competition with the cats then ?'

Two purrs Magic & Squeaky

'No, I am going to eat a purr' she said. 'Ha'h you mean a pear Mrs H ' I said

'Yes a purr' she said again.

We often have these little misunderstandings, it is all to do with Mrs H having an East Dublin accent.

I had better explain that Dublin is on Ireland's eastern seaboard. Geographically there is a North Dublin, a West Dublin and a South Dublin, the Irish Sea is in the east and across that channel of water, lies the great City of Liverpool where the citizens speak with an east Dublin accent.

I, who matured in England's West Country, have a base dialect that is distinctly different to that of Mrs H and so what I actually hear is often a different word.

That sort of misunderstanding is quite common, not just between ourselves but with others too.

For example when I first came to live here the expression that I used when leaving a shopkeeper was to say 'so long' as I went through the doorway. Within a few weeks my friendly butcher congratulated me on using the As Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic), this puzzled me somewhat for the only word I knew was agus (the word for and). Then he said 'what I mean is that I hear you say Slán' (farewell) whenever you leave here.'

Considering this I realized that it was the speed of my speech which was reducing so long to s'lon, the 'g' being hardly uttered.

What we say and how we speak can be very humorous on occasions. Some years ago I went with a good friend of mine over to Glastonbury from Ireland for a short holiday. It was her first time in that part of England.

We decided to catch a bus to Street. There was a long queue at the bus stop and it wasn't obvious which end was which. So I, knowing how sensitive folk are to queue jumpers, asked a man which was the front of the queue.

Four times I asked the question and each time he shook his head not understanding me, eventually my friend with her very strong Co Louth Irish accent said "He wants to know which end is front of the queue ?"

My mispronunciations were due to me having a heavy cold.

That event amused me at the time the irony of it all and even as I write this I am still amused.


  1. B.H. Mel, @ 0030hrs I was reading this post just as you were reading & commenting on mine! And I was thinking, B.H. he's featuring his cats as I did today! At 1st I was thinking that Mrs H might have originated from Manchester before I read it was Dublin, as they tend to imply purrs for pears there too. Tat ah synchronised blogger pal!

  2. We have the same mispronunciation here in the United States. Perhaps it isn't really MIS-pronunciation as Mis-recognition of the sound of words.
    I was working in a decorating shop where we boughthandmade pine furniture pieces-little cabinets, shelves, benches, etc. I was on the phone with the small family company which happened to be from the southern part of the United States. The lady on the other end of the phone asked me which kind of STEIN I wanted. I said I didn't want a STEIN...I want a rich cherry wood STAIN. I finally figured out that that was what she was asking me!...Stain....

  3. I loved this post, Mel, especially the idea of Mrs H having a purr, and the two kitties look so sweet. My other half and I also have misunderstandings, due mostly to him being Dutch and me being English with some South African over tones. He often mishears what I say and vice versa. We communicate mostly in English and also in Dutch sometimes, but I think that often we are not tuned in to each other when one of us stars speaking, so while we are re-programming to the correct language, the oddest misunderstandings can occur!

  4. Great photos as usual and nice to see what Squeaky looks like I knew Magic is black.My husband is a Northener and when our children were small they use northern vowel sounds when speaking to him and southern when speaking to me.Just to make sure we understood??


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