Monthly Archives: November 2011

Polar Bears and Cross Dressers

One of the handful of slips the excellent British actor Hugh Laurie made on House (he speaks with an American accent on the show) was when he had a line with the term ‘cross dresser.’  Every vowel and consonant was technically correct, … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , | 19 Comments

The Paths of ‘Geezer’

Something that’s puzzled me about the speech of young British co-workers is the term ‘geezer.’  In America, this word refers, impolitely, to an elderly man.  More accurately, I’d say it’s used more in theory than practice: it’s one of those … Continue reading

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Posted in Uncategorized | 11 Comments

French Stress and Broad A’s

We Americans perhaps assume that the British pronounce ‘foreign’ words more inaccurately than we do. As evidence, one might cite such foreign loans as ‘Mario,’ ‘pasta,’ and ‘cliché!’ At first glance, it might look as if Americans stress the correct … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | 28 Comments

The Odd Vowel Out

Years back, an actor asked me a dialect ‘riddle’ of sorts: is there any vowel represented by the International Phonetic Alphabet that does not exist in any accent of English? I don’t know how to answer that question; it depends … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged , | 30 Comments

The Changing Dialect of Hip Hop

This morning, I stumbled upon the newest music video of Irish hip-hop artist Lethal Dialect. Take a listen: As you may notice, this young man raps in a thick Dublin accent. Anyone accustomed to American hip hop is likely to … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 33 Comments

When Twitter Words are Spoken Words

Since the dawn of the written word, great minds have noted the separation between spoken and written language. Yet with social media, we have perhaps bridged this gap. The conventions of texting, chatting, and emailing dictate a conversational tone, an … Continue reading

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Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged | 13 Comments

Dialect Work in the Old Days

Alfred Hitchcock’s The 39 Steps is a wonderful piece of classic moviemaking, but there is something amiss with the accent (not to mention dialect) of its leading man, Robert Donat: Donat is the handsome chap who remarks, ‘Daaahhhling, fancy seeing … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

The Advance of ‘Goose’

Apropos of our recent discussion of the ‘oo’ vowel in Multicultural London English: The ‘oo’ vowel in ‘goose’ is undergoing a fairly remarkable worldwide shift. When we transcribe this vowel in the International Phonetic Alphabet, we typically use the symbol … Continue reading

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Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 11 Comments

What’s with the Western US and Velars?

I’d like to address something that has frequently been brought up in the comments.  One of the most salient (and ‘exotic’) features of accents in the Western US is the way vowels behave before voiced velar consonants (i.e. ‘-g‘ and ‘-ng‘).  This … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 32 Comments

Chicano English?

It’s not often that an American newspaper devotes a 1000-word article to a single dialect of English. So I was delighted to read an in-depth profile of Chicano English in this week’s LA times. Author Hector Becerra highlights one of … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | 28 Comments