Welcome to the online diary of the “London Ziegs,” as they journal their experiences relocating from the balmy climes of sunny Orlando, Florida to the more chaotically cosmopolitan environment of London, UK!

Monday, December 22, 2008

Their Barbaric Yoβ

One of the new words we learned our first few weeks here was "yob", as in "one who acts in a yobbish manner;" where "yobbism" appears to include a wide range of obnoxious behaviours, such as littering (flytipping), smoking and intoxication, or supporting Liverpool. Generally, Maidenhead is comparatively free of these stains on the social fabric, but I've found that one danger of working late in Slough is that I might have to wend my way home through a train network infested with yobs (heading to a night out, going home, or just loitering endlessly inbetwixt, I couldn't say).

These tend to be 15-to-25 years of age. Girls do a lot of squealing and screaming, ignoring the fact that the person they're shouting at is only 5' away. This is particularly striking in an otherwise empty shopping mall (often used as shortcuts from pedestrian streets to rail), where wincing bystanders can at least experience some truly intense multipath echolocation. Boys do their share of shouting too, although often in a grunting, slurred chant that I have come to associate with (forgive me, sport fans) the local tradition of "football".

It is an odd dialect which I can only analyze through phonics, as I have absolutely no idea what anyone is saying, and only assume it to be a variant of English because that's where I'm standing. The language is not with a certain musical savoire: delivered in a rhythmic sing-song, these calls are filled with rolling low tones designed to carry for distance, like the lonesome wail of a lovelorn humpback, punctuated by strident barks to signal greeting, warning, accolade, or a summons for ale.

As a xenolinguist, I would be endlessly fascinated; as a commuter, I just want to get to bed.

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