Category Archives: Miscellaneous Accents and Dialects

The accents of smaller English-speaking areas such as British South Africa, the Carribean countries, and other places not in the British Isles or North America.

‘This’ and ‘That’ in ‘Foreign’ Dialects

My favorite line in Tony Kushner’s Angels in America is in its first scene, when a strongly-accented rabbi,  mid-eulogy, lists ‘Eric’ among the deceased’s grandchildren. He interrupts his speech and addresses the audience: ‘Eric? This is a Jewish name?’ The rabbi uses … Continue reading

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Take / Have a Bath

Differences between American and British English constitute a set of near-cliched contrasts (‘we say elevator, while you say lift!’). I would add to this list the ‘have a bath/take a bath‘ distinction: the British ‘have‘ a bath, while we Americans … Continue reading

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Where did ‘Aye’ go?

What is the status of ‘aye?’ General impressions suggest that ‘aye’ means ‘yes’ in Scotland, a chunk of Northern England, and presumably Northern Ireland. But beyond that, the picture of where the word is spoken, and even where it was … Continue reading

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The -lect in Idiolect

When we discuss idiolects (the speech patterns or ‘dialect’ of a single person), it’s easy to focus exclusively on pronunciation. How we say something, with all those nuances of vowel placement and intonation, seems to exhibit more variety than what we say. … Continue reading

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‘Hey!’ and its Variants

The word ‘hey’ has been around for a good thousand years or so (probably more). A remarkably versatile little word, it can be used in American English in any number of contexts. For example, to express annoyance: “Hey! Stop doing … Continue reading

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“Hate Speech”

I want to briefly comment on a comment made in the last post, from reader boynamedsue: I think it’s an interesting cultural difference between the UK and US. The concept of “hate speech” as a generalised category has not really entered … Continue reading

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The C-Word

Within the past few decades, a difference has arisen between British and American English concerning ‘the C word.’ I won’t repeat the word here, as it’s arguably the most offensive in English, but most will know what I’m talking about … Continue reading

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Inner-City Dialects

This week’s Economist features an article about the Kiezdeutsch dialect of German, mostly spoken by inner-city youth. One may recognize controversies similar to those about non-standard English: ‘purists’ argue that Kiezdeutsh is bad/lazy German, while linguists see it is a legitimate variant of … Continue reading

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Con-Dialects

One of my ‘nerdiest’ passions is for conlangs, short for ‘constructed languages.’  Examples of these include Klingon and the various tongues in Tolkien’s books.  These are often created by creative linguists or people with an advanced knowledge of languages, although … Continue reading

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Accents or Dialects I Haven’t Heard

A question I get asked a lot (as anyone with a passion for accents and dialects is probably asked) is whether there are any varieties of English I haven’t heard. There’s no easy answer, of course, since accents aren’t clearly defined … Continue reading

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