Monthly Archives: October 2011

Halloween!

It’s funny that the last post here was about free variation, as today’s holiday is an example of that phenomenon in action.  Here in America, there are two distinct pronunciations of ‘Halloween’ that can occur in General American accents.  The … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 14 Comments

When Free Variation Isn’t So Free

[Ed note: I made two slight edits to an earlier version of this post for purposes of clarity.] Like most people, my pronunciation is inconsistent. Take the word ‘thought,’ for example. I sometimes rhyme this with ‘lot,’ while other times I … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , | 17 Comments

The Irish ‘Strut’

When English phoneticians refer to the ‘strut vowel,’ they mean the ‘u‘ in ‘luck,’ ‘fudge,’ and ‘cut.’  In American English, the sound usually lies somewhere between the ‘a’ in ‘father’ and the ‘a’ in ‘comma.’  Your ‘strut’ vowel may vary. … Continue reading

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Posted in Irish English | Tagged , , | 18 Comments

The Mississippi Accent in 1893

I recently stumbled upon a remarkable 1893 tome on Google Books entitled Some peculiarities of speech in Mississippi by the delightfully-named Hubert Anthony Shands.  A glossary of words native to the dialect(s) of that state, the book opens with a detailed … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 17 Comments

Do Southerners Speak Slowly?

One of the most commonly held assumptions about American accents is one with arguably negative connotations.  That would be the pernicious rumor that Southern people speak ‘slower’ than Northerners.  I put this assumption in quotation marks, of course, because it … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Accents of the Pacific Northwest, Part II

Since moving across country, I’ve only had intermittent internet access.  I’ll be more active here and in the comments once we get everything set up on Friday.  A brief anecdote, however. As I foreshadowed some time back, I just moved … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 16 Comments

Foreign Accents

As much as I hate to admit it, ‘foreign’ accents don’t pique my interest the way ‘native’ accents do.  That’s not to say I don’t love foreign languages.  I’m fascinated by the grammatic intricacy of Navajo and the differences between … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , , | 40 Comments

The Vowel in ‘Yeah’

Of English’s many alternatives to ‘yes,’ the word yeah is perhaps the most common.  I’d go so far as to say there is some type of ‘yeah’ or yeah-like word in nearly every native dialect of English.  Yet despite its ubiquity, … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 24 Comments

Why Americans Don’t Get ‘Dialect’

I first heard the word ‘dialect’ within a bizarre context. It was the 1980s, and some adult (whose identity I forget) used it as a euphemism for African American English*. It was something along the lines of, “He speaks dialect, … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 11 Comments

Speech Recognition and Accents

I don’t have time for a lengthy post today, which is unfortunate: the way software deals with regional accents deserves a longer discussion (led by someone more knowledgeable than me, frankly).  Regardless, I want to share a Slate article apropos … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 8 Comments