Tuning in

I went to a concert featuring poems and songs in Shetland dialect last night – some new, some old, some serious, and some frivolous and very funny. I was able to follow most of the words, but there were some that I didn’t understand, including some of the funny bits, so sometimes when everyone else was laughing, I was wondering what the jokes were.

Some of the performers were more difficult to understand than others, as there is quite a bit of dialect and accent variation between different parts of Shetland that I’m not used to yet. The Whalsay dialect is reputedly the most difficult to understand, and the one people from other parts of Shetland make fun of.

My ears and brain are gradually tuning in to the Shetland dialects and accents, a bit like a radio tuning in to different stations. My understanding of them is on a similar level to my understanding of Irish, Manx and Scottish Gaelic at the moment – I can get most of them when I really concentrate, and some words which I don’t understand the first time make sense when I hear them again in a slightly different context. Sometimes I find it helps to de-focus slightly and to let the words flow in without worrying that I don’t understand all of them.

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This entry was posted in English, Language, Language learning.

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