Monthly Archives: September 2011

‘Son’ in African American English

I don’t have time for a lengthy post today, so I’d like to briefly mention a dialect curiosity that has befuddled me for over a decade: the use of the word ‘son’ in African American Vernacular English.  The word is … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 12 Comments

An Amish dialect?

I spent last week in southeastern Pennsylvania, near the heartland of the Amish, an isolated religious group which shuns modern dress and lifestyle.  This resulted in the strange experience of spotting teenage girls in a local mall clad in clothing … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | 20 Comments

A Lexical Beef: ‘Boyfriend’ and ‘Girlfriend’

I have been away from this blog for several days, due to a single reason (no pun intended): I got married yesterday. Since my single life has come to an end, I’d like to take a brief pause from discussing … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | 29 Comments

Marry, Merry, Mary

[Ed. Note: In an earlier version of this article, I suggested I pronounce 'marry,' 'merry' and 'Mary' differently.  The opposite is true.  I pronounce them alike.] Do you pronounce ‘marry,’ ‘merry,’ and ‘Mary’ the same?  I do, which makes me a … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 107 Comments

Accents at the Renaissance Faire

Yesterday I went to the Renaissance Faire.  For those unfamiliar with this tradition, the Ren Faire is a type of festival set in a milieu vaguely indicative of the Renaissance, with jousts, fortune tellers, mead, period music, and Elizabethan costumes. … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Why Geordie is Hard to Understand

Of the many wonderful sections of the British Library site, one of my favorites is this fabulous dissection of the Geordie dialect of English (i.e. the dialect spoken in Newcastle-Upon-Tyne).  It presents, in immaculate detail, all of the salient phonological … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 26 Comments

American Dialects: A Red State/Blue State Divide?

In a brief piece in Time this week, famed linguist William Labov suggested that American dialects are getting more distinct rather than less.  The article is extremely short, but I was nevertheless intrigued by Labov’s comment on the connection between accents and … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 9 Comments

Anna Karenina … in a British Accent?

This week, British actress Keira Knightley revealed that the upcoming film adaptation of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina will feature British accents instead of Russian.  Quoth Knightley: “It’s going to be an English accent. It’s always very tricky when you are doing something that is … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 11 Comments

How Non-Rhotic Accents Become Rhotic

While we’re on the topic of rhotic and non-rhotic accents, I’ll address a frequently asked question:  why do non-rhotic accents switch so quickly to rhotic?  And vice versa? Since World War Two, both the US and Britain have experienced massive … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

That’s the Idear: Intrusive ‘R’

Generations of Americans have puzzled over the British tendency to add ‘r’s where (it seems to us) ‘r’s don’t belong.  This can be found in such phrases as “an idear of it,” “pastar and sauce,” and  “sawr and conquered.”  Termed r insertion (or intrusive r), … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 38 Comments