Two former students visited London last year and were thrilled at just how much they understood of normal conversation. But when they went to the north of England, it was a different story. They hardly understood a word.
The fact is that in the north of England, there is a resistance to adopt modern English grammar, especially in the villages and traditional communities. They see it as a way of protecting their identity against the south and London. Southerners accuse the North of using «slang» but, in fact, it is not slang at all but the traditional dialect and the language of the great poets, as it would have been spoken even in the south up to 100 years ago.
Of course, there are many dialects in the North of England, but today we shall concentrate on the old form of the verb «To Be», which is commonly used throughout the North.
As Russian students will know, this is a very strange verb: in fact, it is a combination of three Old English Verbs. As a simplified example, the old form might be:
Present: ⎮ I am ⎮ Thou art ⎮ He/she/it is ⎮ We art ⎮ You/Ye art ⎮ They art ⎮
Future: ⎮ I shalt ⎮ Thou wilt ⎮ He/she/ it wilt ⎮ We shalt ⎮ You/Ye wilt ⎮ They wilt ⎮
Past: ⎮ I wast ⎮ Thou wert ⎮ He/she/it wast ⎮
The still older form «I be» is still sometimes used, especially in the negative «I be not»: contracted to «I b'aint». One often hears: «I b’aint going out tonait». I translation: «I am not going out tonight». In case you think I am talking a lot of rubbish, watch this YouTube clip of two Yorkshire men talking.
In any case, if you wish to study poetry and English literature in its most beautiful, you must learn these forms! Dickens is full of this type of language.
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