Dinna fash yersel. One language plus one dialect is a good as two languages and maybe two languages is over-rated anyhoo

abertay  dana

Abertay University researchers have discovered that being fluent in a dialect, like Dundee Scots or Ayrshire Scots in addition to Standard English is as good for your brain as being fluent in two different languages like, say, English and French.

It seems it’s to do with the ‘switch cost’ or the effort your brain makes in switching from one language to another or to just another dialect. It turns out it’s the same either way and thus potentially equally as beneficial for the brain.

On a personal note, I can switch from academic English back to Bairnese (Falkirk dialect) when I’m with my rellies without being aware on any cost. Are the cost in milliseconds?

Co-researchers found the same thing in Germany with speakers of the Öcher Platt dialect in Aachen.

What are the benefits then? Well it’s a widely held belief that bilinguals have improved cognitive powers and might even be less prone to dementia. However, back in 2014, the same team at Abertay were quite sceptical about this and questioned the research methods used by psychologists to suggest there were benefits. Here’s what they did and what they found:

‘They compared cognitive control in a group of people who switch between speaking the very distinctive Dundonian dialect and Standard Scottish English, with cognitive control in two other groups: those who speak two languages, and those who speak only one. To their great surprise, their research produced some wholly unexpected results, contradicting everything they thought they knew: the bilingual control groups performed no better in the cognitive task than those who spoke only one language and those who spoke in a dialect. There were no differences whatsoever.’

I’m confused. So, one language plus one dialect is as good for your brain as two languages are but the benefits, either way, are probably overrated?


And, maybe it’s even bad for you and for those listening to you! See this from the Dana Foundation in 2012:

‘Having to deal with this persistent linguistic competition can result in language difficulties. For instance, knowing more than one language can cause speakers to name pictures more slowly and can increase tip-of-the-tongue states (where you’re unable to fully conjure a word, but can remember specific details about it, like what letter it starts with). As a result, the constant juggling of two languages creates a need to control how much a person accesses a language at any given time. From a communicative standpoint, this is an important skill— understanding a message in one language can be difficult if your other language always interferes. Likewise, if a bilingual person frequently switches between languages when speaking, it can confuse the listener, especially if that listener knows only one of the speaker’s languages.’


‘Tip-of-the-tongue-states’? That’s me most of the time. Right, that’s it pal! I’m proper fashed noo innit?


15 thoughts on “Dinna fash yersel. One language plus one dialect is a good as two languages and maybe two languages is over-rated anyhoo

  1. Ludo Thierry November 3, 2017 / 7:39 pm

    Hi John – I think the rapacious Johnston Press ‘Executives’ better learn to speak Salmondese pretty quick – ‘cos that’s the language their jotters will written in!

    Did you see the Courier ‘exclusive’ about Big Eck’s chatshow? (see below):

    EXCLUSIVE: Alex Salmond launching TV chat show in latest media move
    by Gareth McPherson

    November 3 2017, 4.01pm

    Alex Salmond is launching his own television chat show next week, The Courier can reveal.

    The former first minster’s latest venture in the media world follows his controversial involvement in a move to take over the publisher of The Scotsman.
    Called The Alex Salmond Show, it is expected to follow a similar format to his run of Alex Salmond Unleashed at the Edinburgh Fringe, which was a mixture of light chat, musical performance and audience interaction.

    It is unclear at this stage which channel or platform the show will appear on. A launch party is being held on Thursday November 9 in London

    Talk about cutting the ground out from under the Scotsman editorial smear-fest! – It is a real pleasure to observe a true professional in action at the top of their game – Alex – ‘Aboon them a’ ye tak yer place’.

    Ta, Ludo

    Liked by 1 person

    • gavin November 3, 2017 / 9:50 pm

      People of the calibration of Rupert Murdoch can exorcise real muscular power over the politics, economics—even the very direction of travel of the U.K. and USA, planting his opinion over the press/TV on both sides of the Atlantic through editorial control. Right now his media are trying to get the Special Prosecutor sacked in case he impeaches Trump.
      Yet it’s Salmond who is the enemy of………..not “the people” but the “right” people. People like Brian Wilson.
      Yup, let’s hear it for Fox News, the London Times(which sucked the Scotsman dry under Thompson) and all the rest of the “editorially free” press.
      There should be Torygraphs, Times and Daily Heils free in all our schools—probably are in the “charity” school system where our rulers were educated.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Clydebuilt November 4, 2017 / 9:14 am

    I’ve noted that the closer a dialect becomes to Fife speech the more eccentric the character becomes. Suppose that’s what some folk would mistakenly call West Coast Bias. . . . Nothing a good does of elocution won’t cure.

    Think there’s a link between eccentricity and creativity? (the Rezillos, Fae Fyfe, The Tourists . . . . . All good)

    Liked by 1 person

    • gavin November 4, 2017 / 9:29 am

      Is Fife then a Kingdom of the mind? A metaphorical Shangri-La of strangeness?

      I spent a year on a ships refit in Rosyth, and found the Fifers most admirable in their couthy doon hame quaintness.

      Liked by 1 person

    • johnrobertson834 November 4, 2017 / 2:37 pm

      Used to live next door to Fife. Locals said you couldn’t cremate Fifers because they burned too long with all that coal in their blood.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Clydebuilt November 4, 2017 / 9:57 am

    Brewer’s covering this on radio Scotland now

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Ludo Thierry November 4, 2017 / 10:37 pm

    Hi John – Hi all . Clydebuilt – did the Tourists have a Fife connection? – I remember Dave Stewart and Annie Lennox being involved – but I hadn’t realised there was some involvement with the Kingdom. I’m pretty sure The Skids hailed from Dunfermline area and they were quite good fun for a while.

    Heading a bit south of Fife now. Can I update on the recent ‘Lord’ Sanderson of Bowffing story? (see below from the Southern Reporter):

    Controversial Borders peer set to retire next year

    A Borders peer at the heart of an expenses row has said he is to retire from the House of Lords in 2018. Lord Sanderson of Bowden hit the headlines this week when he was slammed by the Electoral Reform Society for claiming £12,279 expenses in the past parliamentary year – despite not speaking in any debate, submitting a written question or sitting on a committee. The 84-year-old did vote on 25 occasions – each time voting “not content” on the various bills put before the house. He defended his expenses over the previous year, citing the fact that he had done a lot of voluntary work for the Conservative Party over the years, saying: “I think you should realise that some people at their own expense give their talents for free and you would do well to study what is involved over the whole period of service before drawing conclusions.”

    Lord Sanderson told The Southern: “As you know the House of Lords Reform paper has now been published. ..I was there to hear about it and I have made clear to my party that I wish to retire in 2018 on a date of their choosing, thus being in the first batch under the new system of withdrawal.”

    Well done to the Electoral Reform Society for putting in the work to gather the facts, to the Southern Reporter for putting the pointed questions to the ‘Baron’ – and to all the various on-line individuals, campaigns and blogs etc which helped spread the word about this appalling abuse of privilege – and, ultimately, shamed this rapacious britnat politico into removing his snout from the public trough.

    When an informed public is able to view the arcane workings of the Ukanian political system small victories can be achieved. Successfully taking this scalp will encourage campaigners for a better Scotland to redouble their efforts. All of us becoming more alert. By-passing the britnat MSM. Gathering info – checking it and spreading it – Just like John is doing via this blog – can – and does – start to rebalance things, bit by bit.

    Thanks all, Ludo

    Liked by 2 people

      • Clydebuilt November 5, 2017 / 4:24 pm

        Yeah A. L. From Aberdeen . . . Rezillos lead singer is Faye Fife (Stage Name ? Or eccentric Fifer’s ) . . Didn’t know that Dave Stewart was in the Tourists . . . So there’s Definately talent up there. . . . Not sure if it eclipses Simple Minds though who IMHO beat Uwho hands down. Remember back circa 2000 SM’s has concert in Glasgow , Herald had photo on front page with the comment “Still remembered” . .. . Inside there was a summing up of their gig. . . Their music was described as “Fatally flawed” . . . .

        Around the same time “Travelling Folk” hosted by Archie Fisher, had 2 or 3 guests on they discussed a new album release by Runrig, the guests did nothing but run the album and group down. Eventually Rr became more popular in Denmark and Germany than in Scotland.
        When Tom Morton Presented the afternoon music prog. He never played Runrig (or the Corries)

        Amy MacDonald is more popular in Germany than here.

        The only Scottish music the BBC in Scotland are prepared to air is Traditional Scottish Dance music (currently presented by a good guy Garry Innes).

        If you are a young person you will not hear any top Scottish music act (Runrig, Corries even Amy Macdonald) on our State Briadcaster, is STV any better?

        I could go on


  5. daibhidhdeux November 5, 2017 / 11:21 am

    Blasted predictive text thingamajig thingy.

    Kudos to you (the Prof, and one and all).

    Get blogging and sharing and outdoing the MSM hacks and trolls.



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