Monthly Archives: May 2013

What Rhymes Tell Us About Changing English

One of the incidental pleasures of reading Shakespeare’s sonnets is finding rhymes that give us clues about Elizabethan English. One of these occurs in the first four lines of the entire collection: From fairest creatures we desire increase, That thereby … Continue reading


Posted in English Phonetics | Tagged | 16 Comments


A reader recently wrote me a question concerning the word “goombye,” which appears in this up-tempo Ivie Anderson song (penned by Duke Ellington) from 1939: At first glance, I figured “goombye” might be an awkward attempt to transcribe African-American English … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 8 Comments

“Button” vs. “Butter”

Apropos of a recent conversation in the comments, it’s worth noting that Americans generally pronounce /t/ in words like “button” and “Manhattan” in a different manner than one might expect. To take one contrasting example, Americans pronounce the word “butter” … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged , | 32 Comments

On “Local” Place Pronunciations: “Manhattan”

While on a train to New York, I overheard the following from a young man speaking Nuyorican English (i.e. the Latino-American New York dialect): “I’m on a train in Jersey to visit my cousin in Manhattan.” This would be an unnoteworthy … Continue reading


Posted in American English | Tagged | 21 Comments

Regional African-American Accents

Annie Minoff has written a fascinating, in-depth piece on African American English over at WBEZ in Chicago. It’s worth reading in its entirety, but the main thrust of the article is that within African-American English one can find numerous regional … Continue reading


Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged , | 27 Comments

David Beckham’s “Poshification”

Researchers from  University of Manchester recently announced that David Beckham has “poshed up” his accent since moving the the United States (pun probably intended). Given that Beckham is one of the biggest sports stars in the world, it’s fairly easy … Continue reading


Posted in British English | Tagged , , | 19 Comments