The Random Comic Strip

The Random Comic Strip

Words to live by...

"How beautiful it is to do nothing, and to rest afterward."

[Spanish Proverb]

Ius luxuriae publice datum est

(The right to looseness has been officially given)

"Everyone carries a part of society on his shoulders," wrote Ludwig von Mises, "no one is relieved of his share of responsibility by others. And no one can find a safe way for himself if society is sweeping towards destruction. Therefore everyone, in his own interest, must thrust himself vigorously into the intellectual battle."

Apparently, the crossword puzzle that disappeared from the blog, came back.

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Say what?

I was musing today about how we speak. There are various dialects in every language Since I am monolingual, I will stick to the only language I am nominally qualified to comment upon... English. Or, more accurately, American. I am aware, of course, that all languages have variations based on locality.

We have southern dialects, New England dialects, mid-western, and more. And, within these categories, we can break them down to states. In fact, to not have/use a dialect would be a rare thing. And each dialect has a connotation to it; a stereotypical user, if you will. Most of these stereotypes reflect prejudices or biases toward the region or state.

Then we have slang. There are different kinds of slang and these are often keyed to the dialect of the person engaging in the slang. Slang is hip. It is used to show one is "in", knowledgeable of the latest fads.

When I was a "surfer dude", for example, I used a number of slang words... "Gremmie" was a variation on gremlin and meant someone who irritated or got in the way. "Bitchin'" was a good thing, as in "what a bitchin' day!" I had to be a bit careful using that one as the maternal half of the parents wasn't appreciative of such words. But using the slang, or argot, of the fad showed I was "in", a part of the scene, one of the crowd.

There is overly formal speech, where one is most cautious about how one expresses oneself so that no misunderstanding can be inadvertently perceived. There's casual speech in which contractions and slang can be tossed about with abandon. I seem to drift between these two at random, not wanting to commit to either one exclusively.

Southern dialect is charming. Especially the more formal form spoken by southern belles. Redneck southern is not so charming and reminds one of the movie "Deliverance." It conjures up inbreeding and stupidity. And NASCAR fans. And missing teeth. Yes, a stereotype.

New Englanders speak slowly and carefully and are a bit inscrutable. There's a lot of "eyuhs" (or "ah yuhs") and cars are "cahs" (the "a" is pronounced like the"a" in "at"), I am most amused by the New Englander's pronunciation of "fork". Within New England, there are dialects that are specific to each state. Bostonites (Bastinites maybe) have their own unique variation too.

Californians used to claim they had no accent, no dialect. Then we found out about "Valley-speak." And there's that Okie remnant remaining in the so called "Inland Empire" and many of the farming regions. And have you noticed that country music singers and musicians all have some kind of country style accents? Even if they were born and raised in Chicago, San Francisco, or New York?

New York's dialect is interesting. There's a difference between the city of New York and the rest of the state. Except Long Island (normally pronounced by residents as "LawnGuyLand") which is much like the city's. And it's similar to what you would hear in New Jersey. But the "boroughs" of New York City have their own accents and dialects which set them apart.

I once thought that, with national TV, movies, and radio and mass communication that we'd all end up speaking without an accent, that we'd develop a more cohesive dialect. That we'd all eventually sound like the announcers and newscasters.

I was wrong. Couldna bin more wrong iffen I trahhed.


paul said...

I must be bilingual. I can speak American (y'all) and Canadian (eh!)

Douglas4517 said...

Thet fust'n ain't Murican... that's Suthun.

pearlvz said...

No Minnesotan has an accent or a specific dialect.

Now who here ordered the pop?

Dubya4517 said...

Do you mean nobody says "Ya" that much?

pearlvz said...

Oh, you mean "ja"?


Not so much in The Cities :-) but ja, I think we still say that. And "uff-da". And "you bet". MN in general is a pretty corny kind of place.

Douglas4517 said...

I chose the phonetic spelling due to my lack of Nordic blood.