Daily Prompt: Non-Regional Diction
Write about whatever you’d like, but write using regional slang, your dialect, or in your accent.
Photographers, artists, poets: show us LOCAL.
In a country with eleven official languages, I only know two and have barely a smattering of three others. I don’t even know Fanagalo, the pidgin Zulu used by South African miners.
In South Africa we don’t have dialects like the ones you find in, say, France and Germany, which are are almost separate languages in themselves. We just have colourful variations, like the Afrikaans typical of Cape coloureds and the fishermen of the Western Cape, which sounds like a fruit chutney you’d eat with pickled fish and babotie, or the Boland farmers’ distinctive pronunciation that goes better with bredies and potjiekos.
To a foreigner, the different varieties of English heard in South Africa aren’t nearly as distinctive as those spoken in Liverpool, Devon or Newcastle. But a South African ear immediately knows if someone grew up in Durban (my home town), Cape Town or Johannesburg. I admire the stand-up comics who use different South African accents. Last weekend I was delighted by two of Pieter-Dirk Uys’s favourites personas – Evita Bezuidenhout and the lesser known but equally memorable Noel Fine (now retired and living in Cape Town, but not beyond attending a school reunion in Toronto, thank you). It was one of his best shows ever (“Adapt or Fly”). His speciality is the English spoken in Johannesburg’s northern suburbs.
I can’t imagine TV English having the influence here that it does in America. I understand that it’s spreading a kind of generalised American accent, removing distinctions between north and south, urban and rural, or at least flattening out some of the more idiosyncratic differences as found in, say, the Brooklyn drawl. I find that sad, although it would make life easier for South African actors. (Charlize Theron aside, when most South Africans try to put on an American accent, we sound like Southern belles.)
You will have gathered by now that I’m not going to reproduce any SA dialects or accents here. Whether they are strong as coffee on a cold Karroo night, or bittersweet as the buchu herbs that scent our Garden Route, without a story to tell, I’m speechless.