Monthly Archives: June 2011

The Elusive English Schwa

An old trick question:  what is the most common vowel in spoken English? Is it the a in cat? The o in top? The ee in keep? In fact, the answer is the puzzling little sound known as schwa. Schwa … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 39 Comments

“Top o’ the Morning:” Myth and Reality

Few dialect myths rankle more people than the purported Irish phrase, “top o’ the morning.”  Any Irish person will inform you that they have never, ever heard even one of their countrymen utter these words. So where did the greeting come … Continue reading

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Posted in Irish English | Tagged , | 15 Comments

Michelle Collins’ Accent on Coronation Street

There has been a recent to-do over British actress Michelle Collins, who joined the Manchester-based soap opera Coronation Street. Collins was best known for her role in EastEnders (a soap set in East London), so her Manchester accent must come … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged | 21 Comments

The Texas Accent: Bush vs. Perry

An article in the Star-Telegram this week compares the Texas accents of Governor Rick Perry with that of George W. Bush. Apparently, Perry’s accent triggers some negative associations with our last president. For reference, here’s a clip of Perry speaking: … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 28 Comments

Quebec English

Quebec English is a broad term used for the dialects (both foreign and native) spoken in North America’s great Francophone province. There is a cultural divide between Quebec and English-speaking Canada, making it tricky to suss out what marks a … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 17 Comments

California English and the “Gay Accent”

Is there such a thing as a “gay accent?”  I wouldn’t even touch this question were there not a decent amount of scholarly research about it.  The notion of “talking gay,” after all, is a staple of homophobic parody.   So … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 39 Comments

“Craic” on Twitter

Craic (pronounced “crack”) is a word used in various Irish dialects which puzzles me. I understand the general meaning of the word, which roughly translates to “something enjoyable.” Therefore a good craic is synonymous with “a good time.” Craic can be … Continue reading

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Posted in Irish English | Tagged | 20 Comments

Ulster Scots and Appalachian English

I’ve had conversations with several commenters about the Scots Irish, and their impact on Appalachian English in the United States. This region was largely settled in the 18th-Century by “ethnically Scottish” immigrants from what is present-day Northern Ireland, hence the … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 19 Comments

When did Americans Stop “Talking British?”

As the title of this post suggests, I often hear questions along the lines of, “when did Americans stop talking like British people?” Many readers, of course, know that history offers no such easy answers. But it’s a topic worth … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 90 Comments

Singlish

As I’m strapped for time today, I’ll open up the floor to a question: does anybody know anything about Singlish? This term refers to a creole language in Singapore, a mix of English and various East Asian languages. The spectrum … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 20 Comments