Today I am glad to present my favorite song Deep Purple’s ‘Sail Away’ to you. It was first released in the album “Burn” in 1974 and then reissued in 2004 on its 30th anniversary. Listen now and relish the beauty of the music and lyrics. Afterwards, we’ll discuss some colloquial patterns in English.
As you can see from the lyrics, the spelling pattern ng is substituted for n’. And if you listen to the song again you can hear the sound [n] instead of traditional nasal [ŋ]. This change is characteristic of informal speech and it features in some dialects of English. It happens when the word ends in –ing, mostly with verbs and adjectives, but sometimes the substitution occurs when the word sort of accidentally has the –ing ending like in nothing – nothin’. It is not possible though to use this pattern with sing and you cannot substitute long or wrong.
Now look at the examples from the song:
driftin'; searchin'; sailin'; returnin'; gettin'; goin'.
Another word that is used in the song is AIN’T which often puzzles the students of English. What is the origin of this word? Your English teacher must have explained you already that it is impossible to use “I amn’t”, we use either “I’m not” or “aren’t I” in some cases. But today we are discussing colloquial forms – so AIN’T is widely used by ordinary people and in many dialects. What’s more, it substitutes not only for “am not” (I ain’t going to school today.) but also for “isn’t”, “aren’t” or even “haven’t” and “hasn’t” – it depends on the sentence. Have a look:
She ain’t a hairdresser.
They ain’t busy.
He ain’t got a car.
In the song we’ve got a perfect example of this structure: And you still ain't got no place to go. Here ain’t is used instead of “haven’t”, and don’t get misled by the double negation – one more feature of colloquial language.
By the way, if you come across these two phenomena while reading a novel, be sure the author wants to draw your attention to the fact that the character speaks in an informal way.
One more thing you should remember – DO NOT overuse those patterns. Make sure you use them in a due place and in due time (certainly not speaking to or emailing your boss!)
More enjoyable songs: