Death Of A Language

I was recently read that the last native speaker of an obscure Scottish dialect died, taking the language to the grave with him. It’s sad when a language dies out, for lots of reasons. It makes the world just a little more homogenized and the unique aspects of a culture are often lost along with the language. In this case I was interested to discover that this particular language was very closely tied to traditional fishing methods and it started to die in the 1950s when fishing became industrialized.

And so let’s raise a glass to this tragically lost language.

Petty Booka “Let’s Talk Dirty In Hawaiian” (John Prine)
The Cromarty dialect was closely linked to fishing but I’m willing to bet that you could still talk dirty in it. I think that’s one of the things that links all human languages. And it’s so sad that nobody will ever talk dirty in Cromarty again.

Spiderbait “Jive Talkin'” (The Bee Gees)
Jive, on the other hand, is probably less universal among human languages. I just can’t imagine anybody talking jive in German for instance. The “I talk jive” scene from the movie Airplane probably falls really flat dubbed into German.

Mysteries of Life “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” (Talking Heads)
A great headline for the story of the end of the language would have been something like “No More Heads Talking Cromartie,” but that would probably be too much to hope for from a headline writer. I love this song, I just think it’s one of the most beautiful ones ever written.

Leonard Nimoy “Everybody’s Talkin'” (Harry Nilsson)
Back in the day if you were a successful television actor you had a good shot at getting a recording contract. I’m not sure why that was the case but it resulted in some truly wondrous music. And also stuff like this. Mr. Nimoy’s voice is so thin and tuneless I just can’t understand why he got to make so many albums.

Danni Carlos “Don’t Speak” (No Doubt)
There’s nobody left to speak Cromarty, whether you want them to or not. I do like the little bit of flamenco flair on this version.

3 thoughts on “Death Of A Language

  1. Birgit

    Yup, no german jive talking on “Airplane”. They dubbed it with the bavarian dialect, which is barely understandable for us non-Bavarians ;-)
    Thanks for posting. Leonard Nimoys singing attempts are always good for a laugh, but it’s not so bad that you can’t listen to the songs, great trash.

  2. Steve McI Post author

    Thanks for that confirmation, Brigit. Sadly the link you provided can’t be viewed in the U.S, so I’ll just have to take your word for it.

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