Monthly Archives: October 2012

Shall vs. Will

A reader contacted me recently with a question about the modal auxiliary verb “shall:” When did Americans stop using “shall” (and should as a first-person replacement for would) in normal conversation? … My guess is people had stopped using “shall” … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 24 Comments

“N’Awlins” And Other Abbreviations

In an episode of Gordon Ramsay’s “Kitchen Nightmares,” a ridiculous (and non-local) restauranteur tries to convince Ramsay that New Orleans‘ pronunciation is “N’Awlins” (nɔ:lɪnz). As any New Orleanian will tell you, “N’Awlins” is largely a tourist affectation. You might as … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged , | 64 Comments

Why This American “Slips Into Britishisms”

An article by Alex Williams in the New York Times discusses the “recent” trend toward Northeastern Americans adopting British slang in everyday conversation. The piece targets the usual suspects: BBC America, Downton Abbey and JK Rowling are the most commonly … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 28 Comments

Was Received Pronunciation Ever Rhotic?

People around the world associate Britain with non-rhoticity, the process whereby /r/ is dropped at the end of syllables such as ‘car‘ and ‘start.’ This impression largely stems from the fact that the non-rhotic Received Pronunciation (RP) was the standard for … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 18 Comments

Singing in Dialect, Part 2: When Brits Go GenAm

Like many young urbanites in the 2000s, I was obsessed with Joy Division. I’m not sure why this two-decades defunct* band from Manchester touched a nerve, but touch a nerve it did. Yet I always found it perplexing the way … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , , , | 25 Comments