Take the 2-minute tour ×
English Language & Usage Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for linguists, etymologists, and serious English language enthusiasts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I'm still learning English but I think that, at the moment, my level is becoming acceptable (I can keep a real conversation with a native speaker without problems). The point is that I've been listening to a song by Sean Paul (a Jamaican singer) and I really have problems understanding most of what he says.

This is the song, from 1:15 to 1:35.

The question, as you may know, is: Do you have any problems understanding what he say?

share|improve this question

closed as not constructive by Jeff Atwood Dec 16 '11 at 19:46

As it currently stands, this question is not a good fit for our Q&A format. We expect answers to be supported by facts, references, or expertise, but this question will likely solicit debate, arguments, polling, or extended discussion. If you feel that this question can be improved and possibly reopened, visit the help center for guidance.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

1  
Just note that an inability to understand Sean Paul's songs may be more about Sean Paul's style than about his dialect per se. You might listen to him in this interview to hear how he actually speaks: youtube.com/… –  onomatomaniak Dec 16 '11 at 17:35

5 Answers 5

Yes, even native English speakers can have trouble with strong accents that they're unfamiliar with.

In addition, Sean Paul here is speaking in a Jamaican dialect, so there are grammatical structures that would be unfamiliar, and even words that are not in a standard English dictionary.

share|improve this answer
    
Yes - Sean Paul tends to use lots of local dialect in his songs. –  Rory Alsop Dec 16 '11 at 13:13

I do, but then I sometimes have difficulty in understanding people from other parts of the United Kingdom.

share|improve this answer
1  
I thought my English was good until I moved to the UK... –  György Andrasek Dec 16 '11 at 15:42

Many Caribbean dialects can be difficult to understand for any English speaker simply because they tend to be creole languages. In Jamaica's case, it's a creole of an African dialect (from somewhere in Western Africa) and an English dialect (Irish English predominately).

Of course, Jamaica is unique as well in that it also has an entirely artificially created dialect, Iyaric, which is used by the Rastafarians and is often heard in reggae. May be what he's singing in in the video, but it can be hard to tell when they're talking fast.

There's also standard Jamaican English, which is pretty much like British English, but recently a lot of American English words (and grammar) have been working their way into it since they have closer ties to the US than to Britain now.

share|improve this answer

Yes. But then he would probably find my rather strong Northern Irish accent hard to understand too.

share|improve this answer

The male singer is utterly incomprehensible to an English speaker. I don't think even a Jamaican native would catch every word...it's more than just the accent, it's also partly the audio engineering on his voice. Contrast this with the female singer, whose lyrics are clear as a bell.

share|improve this answer

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.