Monthly Archives: March 2011

Guy Deutscher’s Through the Language Glass

I had a whole post written today about a recent statement made by American actor David Hasselhoff (don’t ask), but it got very muddled, so I decided to scrap it.  In the meantime, I’d like to recommend a book I’m … Continue reading


Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments

Where art “Thou?”

Remember thou, the word that perplexed every high-schooler forced to read Shakespeare and Chaucer? What happened to that word? Thou, as one can deduce, meant “you” up until the 1600s or so. You, in fact, was originally a second person … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , | 30 Comments

Short O: Separated by an Uncommon Vowel

Brits and Americans are perplexed by each other’s short-o‘s. The short-o, of course, it the curious little vowel sound in words like lot, rod and top. It’s is one of the English Language’s more inconsequential phonemes (you can write entire paragraphs … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 25 Comments

News Roundup: Gaddafi’s Secret Weapon

A few news tidbits from the world of accents and dialects: 1.) Another week,another fluffy study about how people perceive dialects. This time, New Zealanders were asked which accents they liked or disliked. The results? Kiwis like Kiwi accents the … Continue reading

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The Ebonics Factor: A Quick Addendum

In the previous post, I mentioned the divide between the accents of Detroit and neighboring Windsor, Ontario.  There is a complicating factor, however, that I neglected to mention:  African American Vernacular English (AAVE, or crudely, “Ebonics“).* AAVE, for those who don’t … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Northern Cities Vowel Shift vs. Canadian Accents

As per our recent discussion of Canadian accents, I’d like to delve into a question I often hear: how different is Canadian English from American English? What’s remarkable about Canadian English is not that it’s different from American English, but … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 17 Comments

A Rant: Accents and Bad Journalism

I realize that accents and dialects constitute a fairly obscure topic.  But I’m finding myself increasingly dismayed by how terribly journalism bungles this area of study. Look, I understand how easy it is to mess up facts when it comes … Continue reading


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 7 Comments

“New Joysey” and “Oirish:” 6 Accent Myths

As per yesterday’s post about the mythological Canadian aboot, I’ve thought of some other myths people harbor about accents and dialects of English. Here are a few common misconceptions: 1.) Myth: People in Shakespeare’s day talked more like Americans than … Continue reading


Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , , | 19 Comments

Canadian Raising: Nobody says “Aboot”

A point of clarification: Canadians do not say aboot. Canadian English features something called Canadian Raising, which basically means that the diphthong in “now” is raised before t, s or other voiceless consonants (i.e. before words like about and house). What … Continue reading


Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , | 97 Comments

Good at Phonetics? It May be Genetics!

Any dialect coach will tell you that not everyone has a knack for picking up accents. Some people take to this kind of work immediately, while others struggle to recognize the most basic differences between accents. It’s a sad reality. … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 7 Comments