Y’a lost’n translation, whey aye hinny!

Brazilian develops app to teach the world how to speak Geordie

Are you a foreigner finding it difficult to pick up English? Then you should try Geordie! The Newcastle dialect is a challenge to many Brits, let alone those coming from abroad already entangled in learning a different language and culture. It is a daunting task for travellers and newcomers looking to embrace (or simply grasp!) the city’s noble heritage and customs, such as football (Hoo’s the Toon gannin?) and wet afternoons (Cowld the day, mar!).

Differences between English dialects are much more profound than those between the Portuguese spoken in the various parts of Brazil. Geordie is considered one of the oldest English dialects in the world, and it is deeply rooted in a history stretching back to medieval times. At times it is hardly intelligible for Brits from the South.

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Two years ago, a survey of 5,000 people for Travelodge revealed that Geordie is “the sexiest accent in Britain”, closely followed by Edinburgh. I wonder if it was Cheryl Cole’s warbling and Sting’s whining that helped Geordies to secure a place in people’s hearts and pants.

In November 2011 Brazilian entrepreneur Guilherme Afonso moved to Newcastle and was suddenly faced with the strange wonders of Geordie speech. And so he created the iPhone application Alreet Geordie School, a spoken dictionary to help those Brits and foreigners visiting or moving to Newcastle.

The initiative took several months to complete, and was supported by more than 40 local organisations, ranging from museums to night clubs. The project team also included Jorgen McLeman, Steven Hunt, Kerry Harrison and Peter Robson – the last two are authentic Geordies.

The project is UK-only, but there is potential for similar applications in Brazil. A baianês dictionary (Bahia dialect) and the Aurélia (gay dictionary) were once published in Brazil, but these jest-filled books served humorous purposes rather than more functional one. Also, they were simple lexicons with little or no regard to phonology and general characteristics of the cultures represented. Alreet Geordie School is much more than this.

Language is a quickly and vigorously changing field. It’s good that technology is keeping pace with this phenomenon and helping to bring different cultures together.  It is also helping to document unique language traits, shifts and trends –  very useful for linguists and historians. More importantly, it could help you to engage with a Geordie babe and thoroughly enjoy the nuances of their sexy tongue! Ye knaa what ah mean leik?

By Victor Fraga

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Find out more at their Facebook page  www.facebook.com/geordieschool

Or by the app at the Apple Store http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/geordie-school/id515823120?mt=8

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