Author Archives: Ben Trawick-Smith

About Ben Trawick-Smith

Ben Trawick-Smith began his dialect fascination while working in theatre. He has worked as an actor, playwright, director, critic and dialect coach. Other passions include linguistics, urban development, philosophy and film.

Reformed Views on Spelling Reform

Back in college, I obsessed over English spelling reform. Why deal with silent gh’s, I figured, when things can be so much cleaner? So I started inventing phonetically-precise alphabets, ending up with results like this: Tu bii or not tu … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 21 Comments

“Jersey” or “Jersey?”

About a week ago, my wife and I went to a fancy grocery store and splurged on an expensive bottle of half-and-half. As we were putting away our haul, I read the description on the back of the bottle and … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 9 Comments

New Mexican Spanish

Wikipedia has many excellent entries on regional dialects. I’m wary of taking all its information at face value, but the site provides good links to relevant sociolinguistics texts that would be tricky for laypeople to track down otherwise. That being … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 16 Comments

Contact Info

Hi, all, I’m retiring the “official” email address for this blog (info@dialectblog.com) and replacing it with a simple gmail address. This is not an important change unless you’ve contacted me in the past. Long story short, my host’s email service is … Continue reading

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Henry Higgins, Language Snob

The classic musical My Fair Lady is on TV right now, and I am puzzling over Henry Higgins (I have shared my thoughts about the character before). If he obsesses over dialects so much, why does he hate non-standard English? Lerner and Loewe … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged , | 2 Comments

Faulkner, Joyce, and Regional Modernism

I most associate literary modernism with Joyce and Faulkner, writers who pushed literature’s boundaries further than they had, and perhaps have since, been pushed. Both explored non-standard grammar and syntax, so it’s no coincidence that they were master “dialect writers.” That … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged , | 3 Comments

“Oy,” “Bollocks” and Other Trick Words

In an episode of HBO’s The Newsroom, Emily Mortimer’s character addresses coworkers with a frustrated “oy!” Mortimer does not play a Brooklyn grandmother; “oy” [or "oi"] is a British term roughly similar to American English “hey!”* I would assume the show’s American writer, … Continue reading

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Posted in British English | Tagged | 12 Comments

Stray Thoughts on Theatrical Accent Traditions

Slate ran a recent piece on the history of women playing Peter Pan onstage. This got me thinking about other theatrical or filmic traditions with regards to fictional characters. In particular, should we question why certain characters are played in … Continue reading

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Posted in Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects | Tagged | 19 Comments

The “Awesome” Trajectory

Regarding the subject of my last post, I was struck this passage from Alice Munro’s story, To Reach Japan: They opened the compartment curtain to get more air, now that there was no danger of the child’s falling out.”Awesome to have … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 2 Comments

Canadian and American /T/

I recently read Alice Munro‘s famous short story collection Dear Life, my interest piqued after the Canadian writer’s recent Nobel Prize win. I enjoy watching interviews with authors I’m reading, so I looked up several with Munro on YouTube. I … Continue reading

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Posted in American English | Tagged | 15 Comments