As a child and early teen, the vocabulary and pronunciation of my native tongue were expanding. We lived in a relatively posh neighbourhood. The influence of the maternal side of the family, hailing from the Black Country was limited. Sadly the memory of my grandfather speaking has faded.

According to Wikipedia the ‘Black Country dialect preserves many archaic traits of Early Modern English and even Middle English and can be very confusing for outsiders.’

A typical informal greeting would be ‘Owamya aer kid?’ (How are you?). A suitable response could be, ‘Ar ah’m owkay tar’ (Yes, I’m okay, thank you).

My accent has softened; it is frequently incorrectly identified as Scouse or northern English. This would fit with the influence of the paternal family coming from Wales.

Being a shy introvert, I relied on myself to interpret and solve the idiosyncrasies of the English language aided with a dictionary, although I did not understand phoentic spelling.

A notable example of silently self learning was the word ‘determine’. For years I read it as ‘debtor-mine’. I somehow interpreted sentences without understanding the meaning of the word.

What a revelation it was when the realisation dawned.