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Performance Question about Dialects

DonMeixner 15 Apr 20 - 02:12 PM
GUEST,Modette 15 Apr 20 - 02:23 PM
Steve Gardham 15 Apr 20 - 04:35 PM
DonMeixner 15 Apr 20 - 10:20 PM
Steve Gardham 16 Apr 20 - 09:16 AM
Jim Carroll 16 Apr 20 - 09:40 AM
GUEST,Modette 16 Apr 20 - 12:37 PM
Black belt caterpillar wrestler 16 Apr 20 - 01:16 PM
Mysha 16 Apr 20 - 03:29 PM
John C. Bunnell 18 Apr 20 - 01:39 PM
Steve Gardham 18 Apr 20 - 04:35 PM
The Sandman 18 Apr 20 - 05:04 PM
Joe_F 18 Apr 20 - 05:58 PM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Apr 20 - 12:42 AM
GUEST,Pseudonymous 19 Apr 20 - 12:52 AM
r.padgett 19 Apr 20 - 02:06 AM
John C. Bunnell 19 Apr 20 - 03:39 AM
GUEST 19 Apr 20 - 04:32 AM
Steve Gardham 19 Apr 20 - 05:03 AM
GUEST,RA 19 Apr 20 - 05:14 AM
DonMeixner 19 Apr 20 - 03:03 PM
Lighter 19 Apr 20 - 03:49 PM
GUEST,Ilser lad 19 Apr 20 - 04:47 PM
Richard Mellish 19 Apr 20 - 06:03 PM
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Subject: Performance Question about Dialects
From: DonMeixner
Date: 15 Apr 20 - 02:12 PM

I have been doing Scots, Irish, and English folk music for years. Being from the middle of New York State I have a dialect all my own. I have avoided some great Scots because of pronunciations and dialects. What is the general feeling about "Englishing Up" a song enough to make the meaning clear to an audience who understands the language but not the Scottish dialect?

Don


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 15 Apr 20 - 02:23 PM

Don,

It seems to me (apologies if I'm wrong), that you're confusing 'dialect' and 'accent'.

MNiD


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 15 Apr 20 - 04:35 PM

Don
If you're talking about dialect, which you must be as an accent can be easily changed, unless it affects the rhyme, but even that can be resolved with a little tweaking. This has long been part of the tradition. If people can translate whole ballads from one language to another as has often been the case then surely the translation of dialect must be fine. You will find many examples of songs transferring easily from one dialect to another without necessary recourse to SE. Scots to English and back again was a common one in the 17th and 18th century. Then there's the fact that many songs written in London were in mock Scots or Irish orthography and eventually some of these became adopted in oral tradition as native to those countries. Alter what you like. There are no ethics involved.

Personally I'd rather you New York Up, rather than English Up.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: DonMeixner
Date: 15 Apr 20 - 10:20 PM

Thank you both. Actually I am thinking of both accents and dialects. I have played for 30+ years in an Irish folk band and have steadfastly refused to add an Irish accent to any song unless I was burlesquing something.

I know there is a difference between dialects and accents but the line blurs. It can be hard to say I Dinna Ken with out sounding like Commander Scott.

By example "I'll busk ye braw and fairer, so you could bear the gree"
from "Pad The Road". I know what this line means and with the context of the verse it is pretty easy for me to "New York" it up for local understanding. But there is a charm that is lost if the dialect goes too far away. Imagine Yogi Berra singing this, hell imagine Yogi Berra singing.

There are a lot of songs I would like to perform. I just don't care to be accused of having an Irish Microphone ever again.

Thanks for the reply.

Don


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 09:16 AM

Another way of looking at this, despite what MacColl told us because this very much applies to his career anyway. If you stand on a stage to sing you are more following in the tradition of a stage performer, rather than a traditional folksinger. In other words you are putting on an act. If this act involves at different points taking on the persona of a Scotsman, an Irishman or any other person that is not yourself, surely this is perfectly acceptable. You are in a way showing respect for that culture from which you are borrowing the song.

In my own case I spent a lot of time and energy in the 60s going round the local countryside recording the folk songs of the area. I liked some of them very much but as a city dweller my dialect/accent was considerably different to those I'd recorded, some from less than 5 miles from my home. I don't feel at all ashamed that I adopted their dialect and accents when I sang their songs, and I think those people would have been glad that I had done so.

I also as a semi-pro singer was in various bands and we played a lot of Irish music. We often did bookings for local Irish communities on St Pat's Day. I sang Irish songs in what to me was a reasonable imitation. Nobody ever took me to task on this. They just sat back, joined in and enjoyed the music.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 09:40 AM

MacColl came from a Scots Mancunian background and was singing dongs he learned from family and neighbours to Manchester cinema queues twenty years before the revival was ever a twinkle in anyone's eye
If we ever get around to talking about what MacColl actually believed, far from a 'stage approach' he argued that songs stayed with you forever if you made them your own and related them to your own emotions and experiences
He drew on Stanislavski's 'Method' theory certainly , but that was Stanislavski's arument anywway - you did't "act" your part but related personally to it to may it an extension of you - 'Application of the idea of "If", "emotion memory" formed a large part of this work

MacColl then suggested that, rather than making this a part of your performance, you made it your preliminary work while learning and rehearsing until you absorbed the song
The Group worked damned hard to achieve what Mikeen McCarthy, Tom Lenihan and Walter Pardon did automatically - they all "saw" what the sang as they sang it
Some of us managed to do this - I'm never sure how many, but I know it is this work that helped me keep three hundred songs fresh

As afr as accents are concerned, I have Anglicised a dozen or so Irish and Scots ones, largely without a problem
Unfortunately some of my favourite Scots songs wont Anglicise without losing the beauty of the language - so I don't sing them, a tough choice
That's what Lomax and later Ewan meant when they argued for "singing from your own background"
Simply put, if you can make it sound "a natural you" sing it - if you have to put on a phone voice - don't
Many of our songs are found in England Scotland and Ireland anyway
Jim


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST,Modette
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 12:37 PM

Thanks for your clarification, Don.

I'm with Steve on this. Sing the songs in your natural voice, but explain some of the local words/terms to your audience.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Black belt caterpillar wrestler
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 01:16 PM

I have written songs with unusual words in that need explaining, such as "polacca", a coastal vessel with a mast made in one piece.

I don't have to put on an accent for the songs as they are descriptive rather than dialogue but the same thing applies, if you think the audience needs an explanation to properly appreciate the song then enlighten them.

Robin


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Mysha
Date: 16 Apr 20 - 03:29 PM

The Ballad of Sammy's Bar refers to a di-so. Curiously, no-one ever had a problem with that. On the other hand, I have had someone once ask me what vessel the London Waterman feathered with such skill and dexterity. Sometimes, you can foresee what the audience needs explaining. Sometimes you can't.

BFN
Mysha


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: John C. Bunnell
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 01:39 PM

To give a specific example of a case where the question may apply:

I know of at least one performer who's set Rudyard Kipling's "Smuggler's Song" to music, and there is a couplet in the refrain for that verse to which the dialect/accent issue seems to me to apply:

"Five and twenty ponies, trotting through the dark;
Brandy for the parson, baccy for the clerk;"

Now in modern American English, we pronounce "clerk" as clurk, which is at best a half-rhyme. But my sense of Kipling's English is that he would have spoken the word as clahrk (as we pronounce the name "Clark"), which is both a better rhyme and more appropriate to the time and place reflected in the lyric.

So if I were singing or reading that line in a performance, I'd use the clahrk pronunciation, which reflects the (now, at least) slightly archaic and specifically British dialect in which Kipling wrote.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 04:35 PM

slightly archaic?

Everybody I know still says 'clark' for 'clerk'

A local Council title is 'Clerk of Works'. Ironically pronounced 'Clark of Werks'.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: The Sandman
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 05:04 PM

Clerk[as i have always heard it, is pronounced Clark not Clerk, AND I am not from Yorkshire


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Joe_F
Date: 18 Apr 20 - 05:58 PM

The ruler of the Queen's Navee, you will remember, rhymes it with "mark". I think it's pretty much a transAtlantic difference.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 12:42 AM

I think "clerk" rhymes with "clark" in most UK English accents, but this does not mean that all English people pronounce it in the same way. There is a broad north-south divide in the vowel sound. In the North, it might be something like an 'aa' or sound than a 'ar' sound. And some places will have a more 'rhotic' approach to the letter r than others.

Regarding the word 'clerk' this gives UK/US examples, using a 'received pronunciation' for the UK example.

https://dictionary.cambridge.org/pronunciation/english/clerk


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST,Pseudonymous
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 12:52 AM

Listen to how Irwin Bielby pronounces 'farm' in the story on this site. That gives you some very broad idea how some Northerners might pronounce the middle of 'clerk'.

http://www.yorkshiredialectsociety.org.uk/listen/


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: r.padgett
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 02:06 AM

Clerk was always Clark ~ Clerk being American pronounciation! this is accent

Dialect is words used in that area ~ lots of differences certainly just in England from Yorkshire to East Anglia and beyond

Dialect and accent together can make understanding difficult if you are a "foreigner"

Ray

BTW It well know I am a short "arr" person ~ lol yes I know ~ but it

really does aggravate me when confronted on tv with the "long arrs" of the Southern English speakers and the word "withdrawal" has one "r" aagh!!


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: John C. Bunnell
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 03:39 AM

And one primary result of giving an example is that *I* learn quite a bit about UK English pronunciations....

I'll take that as at least a partial win.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 04:32 AM

For those living in the USA, these two examples come from places only about 300 miles apart.
Devon and Lancashire


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Steve Gardham
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 05:03 AM

Very distinct accents and dialect in my area only 5 miles apart up to about 20 years ago. Hull/Beverley/Rural East Riding, 3 very different dialects/accents, and yet there has been definitely an evening out of accent along the M62 corridor, about a 100 miles. Manchester, Bradford, Leeds, Goole, Hull. There are those who don't get out much who cling to the old accents, Goole=South Yorkshire, Bratfort. Scouse of course still very distinct.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST,RA
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 05:14 AM

Scots isn't a dialect of English - it's a separate language with its own distinct etymological history.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: DonMeixner
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 03:03 PM

Wow, Lots to digest. Thank you all. Since singing is first and foremost a form of communication I will use my own rule that says, If my audience doesn't understand my meaning I have failed as a communicator.

So next I have to find the fine line that makes things clear with out the song suffering.

And regards the significance of Clerks and Clarks, it can be like explaining Kipling to people who have never Kipled.

Thanks again. This has been much fun.

Don Meixner


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Lighter
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 03:49 PM

Whether a linguistic variety like Lowland Scots is a "separate language" or a "dialect" is entirely a matter of (often political) opinion. Often there's no sharp dividing line between the categories. Norwegian and Danish were generally considered to be the same until

The most diagnostic feature of distinct languages is the combination of vocabulary and grammar (lexicon and syntax, if you want to get fancy). Accent doesn't figure into it.

Scots obviously has plenty of words not known elsewhere - but I'm not sure that anyone has determined by how much they outnumber standard English words used in Scots - or if they do.

As for grammar, the grammar of Scots is almost identical with that of British (and Irish and American) English. Undoubtedly there are variations here and there, but while a non-Scots speaker will require a glossary to read Burns's Lowland poetry, he or she won't need a course in Scots grammar.

Contrast the situation between English and German, or English and Dutch, all of which were once dialects of a mutually intelligible West Germanic, even if it was some fifteen centuries ago. But they're now mutually unintelligible: a speaker of one can't even understand (much less converse naturally in) another without extensive experience or study, and preferably both. A Burns-style glossary won't be of much help.)

Unlike English vs. German, whether one thinks Scots is or isn't a "separate language" may well depend on where one is living, where one's forebears came from, or how one feels about political independence.


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: GUEST,Ilser lad
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 04:47 PM

My maternal grandfather came from Heanor (pronounced Hayner or Ayner) and worked on the railways. He often had to see some 'clurk' or other about 'wok'


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Subject: RE: Performance Question about Dialects
From: Richard Mellish
Date: 19 Apr 20 - 06:03 PM

Apropos when a dialect is a language, with particular reference to English and Scots, try this short video.


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