Off topic: How to read peculiar pronunciation?
Thread poster: Mykhailo Voloshko

Mykhailo Voloshko  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:43
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
Sep 19, 2010

Hi all,

I like to read some printed book before sleeping. Now I'm reading "Hook, Line and Laughter" edited by Peter Haining. It's a haul of 18 humorous fishing stories. By the way, I like fishing, tooicon_smile.gif

One of the stories there is "The Poacher" by Neil Munro. One of its main characters is Para Handy, wisecracking captain of Vital Spark. He has peculiar pronunciation. As a non-native speaker of English, I ask you to help me understand how some of his words should sound.

'Chust that, Abyssinian language — swearing and the like of that, you ken fine, yoursel', withoot me tellin' you. Fancy puttin' a flittin' in the Fital Spark! You would think she was a coal-laary, and her with two new coats of pent out of my own pocket since the New Year.'

withoot [wi'tha:t]? = without
coal-laary ['coul 'lƐəri]? = coal lorry?

The rest is clear as to pronunciation and meaning:
Chust = just
ken = know (corrected)
yoursel' = yourself
tellin' = telling
Fital Spark = Vital Spark
pent = paint

'I have a bit of a net there no' the size of a pocket-naipkin, that I use noo and then at the river-mooths. I chust put it doon — me and Dougie — and whiles a salmon or a sea-troot meets wi' an accident and gets into't. Chust a small bit of a net, no' worth speakin' aboot, no' mich bigger nor a pocket-naipkin. They'll be calling it a splash-net, you ken yoursel' withoot me tellin' you.'

Just checking:
no' [nɒ] = not
noo [na:] = now
doon [da:n] = down
sea-troot ['si: 'tra:t] = sea-trout
into't = into it
aboot [ə'ba:t] = about
mich = much

wi' = with?
naipkin ['neipkin]? = napkin

'It's no' me; it's Dougie," he retorted promptly. 'A fair duvvle for high jeenks, you canna keep him from it. I told him many a time that it wasna right, becaause we might be found oot and get the jyle for't, but he says they do it on aal the smertest yats. Yes, that iss what he said to me — "They do it on aal the first-cless yats; you'll be bragging the Fital Spark iss chust ass good ass any yat, and what for would you grudge a splash-net?"'

wasna ['wɒznə]? = wasn't
becaause [?] = because
jyle [ʤail]? = jail
aal [æl]? = all
yat [jæt]? = yacht

The rest is clear as to pronunciation and meaning:
duvvle ['dɅvl] = devil
jeenks [ʤiŋks] = jinks
canna = cannot
oot [a:t] = out
for't = for it
smertest ['smƐ:tist] = smartest
iss [is] = is
first-cless = first-class

Sorry for the mixture of BrE and AmE phonemes.
Please help to read this story as the author intended iticon_smile.gif

Best wishes,

[Edited at 2010-09-19 19:03 GMT]


patyjs  Identity Verified
Local time: 08:43
Spanish to English
+ ...
Reads like Scottish to me... Sep 19, 2010

I may be wrong but it many of the words are exactly the way they are written to imply a Scottish accent: doon, noo, no' etc. Just a note here, ken usually means "know" and I think that's the case here.

It may also be Northumberland/Cumbria...certainly northern England/Scottish border. I'm from the north of England myself, not quite so far north as this, though.

Have fun with it!

[Edited at 2010-09-19 18:46 GMT]

Seems the author of "the Poacher" was, indeed, Scottish and although the Vital Spark never actually existed some of Neil Munro's stories were retold on television and the boat that played the part still has the name on its bow.

[Edited at 2010-09-19 22:12 GMT]


Mykhailo Voloshko  Identity Verified
Local time: 16:43
Member (2008)
English to Russian
+ ...
thanks! Sep 19, 2010

patyjs wrote:
Just a note here, ken usually means "know" and I think that's the case here.

That's right. My mistake.



Gerard de Noord  Identity Verified
Local time: 15:43
Member (2003)
German to Dutch
+ ...
Just pretend you're a native English speaker Sep 19, 2010

Hi Mykhailo,

Don't over-analyse the text, it was meant for normal native speakers, not linguists.

Just read the text you see aloud, in your head. The better you understand the language, the better the results we be. I did the same when I read Tom Sawyer and On the road. I might have missed some subtleties and meanings, but who cares...



Neil Coffey  Identity Verified
United Kingdom
Local time: 14:43
French to English
+ ...
Features of Scottish/northern dialects Sep 20, 2010

Mykhailo Voloshko wrote:
no' [nɒ] = not
noo [na:] = now
doon [da:n] = down
sea-troot ['si: 'tra:t] = sea-trout
into't = into it
aboot [ə'ba:t] = about
mich = much

The vowels that they're representing as "oo" are generally closer to either the "o(o)" of "do", "who", "coo", or else closer to the French "u" vowel (phonetically often written as [y]). Sorry, I'm not enough of an expert on Scottish English to tell you exactly under which circumstances which vowel occurs in which regions of Scotland, but that's the general idea.

wi' = with?

Possible "with the" rather than just "with" if the context fits-- it's a fairly common pronunciation of "with the" (and some other combinations of preposition plus "the", e.g. "to the") that the word "the" effectively becomes realised as a glottal stop, and it's common to represent the glottal stop as an apostrophe.

I think not all of your other pronunciations are occurate (e.g. "wasnae". "cannae" usually have a final vowel similar to that of "city"), but I also agree with Gerard that it kind of doesn't matter too much for the purposes of enjoying the book. Note that "cannae" is the equivalent of "can't" in the sense that it's the normal, everyday, informal word (whereas "cannot" is essentially not used in everyday speech).


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