Who uses this dialect?
This is the dialect of the middle class - merchants, townsfolk, etc.
Rhythm and Music
This dialect has a sing-songy, yet heavy, sound to it. Imagine a tired but happy farmer making his way home from the fields after a hard day's work.
Each of the links below is a ".mp3" file demonstrating a sound change. Listen to the example as many times as you need to, repeating it on your own afterwards. Take as much time as you need to with each sound. If you take the examples in order, you will sometimes run into sounds you haven't gotten to yet. Don't worry about it, just do the best you can until you've gone through all the sounds. Then go back and listen to the examples again, and make whatever corrections you need to.
I have included notes where appropriate.
- This one is pretty straightforward. The 'o' sound in words like 'hot' darkens to the 'ough' sound in words like 'ought.'
You've got a lot of pots.
- This one is tricky. There are actually two different sounds involved, but you'll have to practice a bit to learn to hear them. The first is the 'a' sound in words like 'master' and 'demand.'
Another draught, master craftsman.
The second is the 'a' sound in words like 'map' and 'hand.'
Flap not thy hand like that.
So which is which? To most folks, the two sounds seem alike in their native dialect. There is a general rule, but it's pretty complicated: make the first change (as in 'master'), when the 'a' comes before 'f,' 's,' 'th,' and 'n,' unless the 'n' is followed by a 'd,' as in 'hand.' See? I told you it was complicated. To make things worse, there are a few exceptions, such as 'command.' This rule is only designed to get you through until your ear gets used to hearing these sounds.
- We now come to one of the fun changes, the "j-u glide." The gist of this is to insert a 'y' sound before a long 'u' sound, unless doing so would change the meaning of the word.
Do tell the Duke's student what a fool is due.
Notice the difference between 'do' and 'due.'
- In any word that is written with a 'wh-,' swap the two sounds to 'hw.'
I know not the why's and wherefores of his wandering.
- The 'r' sound is very hard, almost pirate-like.
The martyr's heart was never hard.
- The 'uh' sound in 'pub' becomes a short 'oo' sound, as in 'book.'
Come, have a cup with me in the pub.
- The 'er' sound in words like 'her' becomes an 'ar' sound, almost like 'far."
The third bird went 'round the world.
- The long 'i' sound in words like 'fight' becomes 'oi', as in 'toy.'
I should like a bite of that pie.
- The long 'o' sound in words like 'go' is stretched out a bit.
Go over to the row boat.
- The 'ow' sound in words like 'cow' becomes an 'aow.' This is a very Scottish sound.
Art thou going down to the town?
- Drop the final 'g' from words that end in '-ing.'
We had wonderous dancing and singing.
- This is a one-word change: 'you' becomes 'ye.'
You must have a horse to ride.
- The 'a' sound in words like 'bake' is stretched, as well.
He made a fake cake.
- The long 'e' sound in words like 'see' becomes a short 'e' as in 'egg.'
I'll be seeing thee.
- The sound 'all' is lilted, as in Irish.
He called at the hall every fall.
- The short 'oo' sound in words like 'good' becomes an 'uh' sound, as in 'but.'
'Tis a goodly length of wood.
- The short 'i' sound in words like 'ring' and 'pretty' becomes a short 'e' as in 'neck.'
She picked a pretty ring.
Finally, here's a line from A Midsummer Night's Dream to practice with. I recommend using this line to get into dialect before rehearsal or performance.
Have you the lion's part written? Pray you, if it be, give it me, for I am slow of study.
And there you have it, all the changes thou shalt need to speak the Country Dialect. I wish you much joy of it!
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