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经济学人:伦敦方言来袭

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Linguistics

语言学

Argot bargy

方言来袭

Why urban teenagers speak the way they do

城里的年轻人为什么那样说话

Nov 2nd 2013 |From the print edition

You think my accent’s bonkers. Your kids speak like me

你觉得我的口音弱爆了。但是你家孩子跟我一个德行。

IN HER novel “White Teeth”, published in 2000, Zadie Smith noted that in London, “all kids, whatever their nationality”, seem to express scorn with a Jamaican accent. Since then linguistic researchers have gradually come to understand how and why so many teenagers sound like Dizzee Rascal, a rapper from Bow in east London (pictured). They call this spreading, mutating argot Multicultural London English (MLE).

扎迪史密斯在2000年发表过一部小说,名字叫《白牙》,在书中,她提到在伦敦,所有的孩子,不管他们来自哪里,似乎用牙买加口音表达自己的鄙视。从那时起,语言学研究者逐渐明白了如何以及为何那么多青少年口音听起来像来自东伦敦区说唱歌手迪兹瑞克斯(如图)了。研究者称这种正在蔓延以及变异的语言为多文化伦敦英语(MLE)。

When MLE first emerged, linguists believed it was a ham version of the way West Indians speak English. In the early 1980s “West Indians who had spoken Cockney suddenly started to speak differently,” explains Paul Kerswill of York University. Young Afro-Caribbean men may have adopted a new style of speech as they sought to forge an identity in an often hostile society. Others were thought to have copied them.

MLE首次出现的时候,语言学家认为这是西印度群岛人群讲英语的一种蹩脚方式。约克大学的保罗克苏威尔解释道,在上世纪80年代初,讲伦敦口音的西印度群岛人群突然开始讲不一样的口音了。年轻的加勒比黑人可能已经接受了一种新的口音,因为他们试图在一个充满歧视的社会里获得一种认可。其他人则被认为是在模仿他们。

But far from being cod-Jamaican, MLE is now thought to be a hybrid dialect that emerged from the intermingling of West Indians, South Asians and speakers of Cockney and Estuary English. Though much of the slang is West Indian—from “bare” for “very” to “sick” meaning “good”—the pronunciation is often not. Its chief characteristic, an elongated “ah” sound in place of an “i” so that “like” is pronounced “lahke”, does not imitate a West Indian patois.

但这绝不是牙买加人专属,MLE现在被认为是由西印度群岛口音,南亚裔口音和伦敦以及河湾区口音混合的方言。尽管大部分是西印度群岛俚语,比如说‘bare’等同于‘very’,还有‘sick’等同于‘good’,发音往往也不一样。MLE的主要特点是‘i’的发音像‘ah’,因此,‘like’听起来像‘lahke’,这一特征就不是效仿西印度群岛口音。

Researchers have found that MLE alters from place to place. Variants have emerged in other cities with many immigrants, such as Birmingham and Manchester. Children tend to pick up MLE at secondary school. It is more common—and more strongly accented—among boys than among girls. The grammar that tends to accompany MLE is increasingly uniform: for example the use of "we wasn't" in place of "we weren't".

研究者发现英国到处都有MLE的踪迹。其他城市的许多移民也出现了变种,比如伯明翰和曼城。孩子们一般是在初中开始接触MLE。这种口音在男孩之间更加普遍,口音也更明显。同时MLE的语法也正在变的规范起来,例如"we weren't"代替了"we wasn't"。

Linguists are most excited by what MLE is doing to the rhythm of speech. English is usually spoken with a stress-timed rhythm, in which syllables are stressed at regular intervals. Speakers of MLE speak with a syllable-timed rhythm, in which all syllables are accorded roughly the same time and stress, as in French or Japanese. Syllable-timed speech is a characteristic of languages that have come into contact with other languages. Versions of it may have existed in multicultural places such as Hackney for centuries, thinks Mr Kerswill.

语言学家对MLE对语调带来的变化更感兴趣。英语一般是由重音引导的,就是音节按照时间规律重读。MLE的使用者则按照音节停顿,所有音节的语调基本一致,跟法语和日语大致相同。和其他语言相比,按音节停顿是其特点。这种语音特色可能已经在诸如哈克尼这种多元文化区存在数个世纪了。

Helped along by the exodus of old-fashioned Cockney speakers to London’s suburbs and commuter towns, MLE is replacing London’s traditional vernacular. That worries some. Caroline Goyder, a former teacher who now coaches politicians and lawyers in the art of public speaking, says she sees increasing numbers of school leavers who fear they are incomprehensible in job interviews. For one young Cambridge graduate working in Paris, that rings true. His MLE accent is proving as much of a problem as his imperfect French. “I know it’s incongruous”, he says, “but it’s hard to lose, y’get me?”

随着操伦敦口音的居民搬到郊区以及周边通勤城镇,MLE正在取代当地的传统语言。这让一些人感到担忧。曾任教师的卡洛琳葛依德现在是一名政客律师演讲指导教练,她表示她看到很多毕业生害怕在工作面试中不能被理解。对一个在巴黎工作的剑桥毕业生来说,这是真的。他的MLE口音跟他磕磕绊绊的法语一样。他说,我知道这不对,但是很难改,你懂吗?

重点单词   查看全部解释    
linguistic [liŋ'gwistik]

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adj. 语言的,语言学的

 
vernacular [və'nækjulə]

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n. 本地话,方言,(动植物的)俗名 adj. 地方的,

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accompany [ə'kʌmpəni]

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vt. 陪伴,伴随,给 ... 伴奏
vi.

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commuter [kə'mju:tə]

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n. 通勤者,每日往返上班者

 
urban ['ə:bən]

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adj. 城市的,都市的

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exodus ['eksədəs]

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n. 大批的离去 Exodus:(《圣经·旧约》中的)出

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stress [stres]

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n. 紧张,压力
v. 强调,着重

 
traditional [trə'diʃənəl]

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adj. 传统的

 
forge [fɔ:dʒ]

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vt. 伪造,锻造
vi. 伪造,在铁匠铺工作

 
uniform ['ju:nifɔ:m]

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n. 制服
adj. 一致的,统一的

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