Archive for the ‘Variation’ Category

Wiscahnsin

March 22, 2015

In yesterday’s NYT, a piece by Patrick Healy, “For 2016 Run, Scott Walker Washes ‘Wiscahnsin’ Out of His Mouth”, beginning:

Columbia, S.C. — Out on the presidential campaign trail, Gov. Scott Walker has left “Wiscahnsin” back home in Wisconsin. He now wants to strengthen the economy, not the “ecahnahmy.” And while he once had the “ahnor” of meeting fellow Republicans, he told one group here this week that he simply enjoyed “talkin’ with y’all.”

The classic Upper Midwest accent — nasal and full of flat a’s — is one of several Walker trademarks to have fallen away this month after an intense period of strategizing and coaching designed to help Mr. Walker capitalize on his popularity in early polls and show that he is not some provincial politician out of his depth.

Although Healy leads with pronunciation matters, they are not the focus of the piece, which is about how Walker is being coached in general on ways to make himself attractive to a wide range of voters.

Now on the main dialect feature in question, the Upper Midwest “flat a”.

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Knob in a red top

March 18, 2015

On Facebook yesterday, Chris Waigl posted the beginning of this story from the (UK) Independent, dated today:

James May calls Jeremy Clarkson a ‘k**b’ after Top Gear star suspended by BBC

Top Gear presenter James May has defended his co-presenter Jeremy Clarkson following his suspension, by calling his colleague “a k**b” but saying he “quite likes him.”

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critique your dick pic

March 4, 2015

That’s the name of a site devoted to criticism of photographs — of penises. “Critiquing your dick pics with love”, says the Critic (who I will refer to with generic they, since they view their sex as irrelevant to the enterprise). (There is some evidence that they are in New Zealand: they use the grading scheme from a high of A+ to a low of D- because that’s what’s used in New Zealand schools; certainly the lexical choices are British rather than American.)

People send photographs of penises in to the Critic, who then provides a thoughtful critique of the photography (not the penis), with a summary grade. There are two sample photos on AZBlogX, here: the mince photo and the duvet photo.

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Local pronunciations

February 28, 2015

Two notes on the pronunciation of proper names: on the city of Bangor ME and on the actor Ryan Phillippe.

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fraug

February 25, 2015

Yesterday’s Rhymes With Orange:

Presumably Hilary Price’s intention was that the spelling FRAUG, pronounced [frɔ:ɡ], should represent a combination of FROG — pronounced [frɑ:ɡ] or [frɔ:ɡ], depending on your variety of American English — and FRAUD, pronounced [frɔ:d] for many American speakers, but [frɑ:d] for American speakers who level [ɔ:] and [ɑ:] in favor of the latter (the “COT-CAUGHT merger”: both these words are pronounced [kɑ:t], DAWN and DON are both [dɑ:n], and SHAW and SHAH are both [ʃɑ:]).

[Addendum: an earlier posting on frog and fraud has a Discover Card commercial that plays on a confusion between the two.]

Quotative moments

February 7, 2015

Yesterday, Geoff Pullum posted an xkcd strip citing Patricia Cukor-Avila on “quotative like“, I linked to it, and lots of people on Facebook were impressed by the concept. So here a few words about quotative constructions, beginning with a wonderful exchange in a song from the 1996 album Love Is Dead by The Mr T Experience:

I’m like “Yeah”
but she’s all “No”
and I’m all “Come on baby, let’s go”
and she’s like “I don’t think so”

(with the quotative elements bolfaced). The guy and the girl go back and forth between quotative like and quotative all in their bargaining.

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Variation in AAVE

January 12, 2015

From the American Dialect Society meeting just concluded in Portland OR, this abstract from Taylor Jones (a grad student at Penn) reporting on some ingenious research he conducted with collaborator Christopher Hall:

‘Yeen kno nun bou dat':  Using Twitter to map AAVE dialect regions

Recent research has established AAVE isn’t monolithic. However, AAVE variation hasn’t been systematically described and mapped. Here, we use new computational methods, using social media, to describe AAVE variation and to show AAVE dialect regions distinct from — and perpendicular to — other dialects of North American English. This study maps the geographic patterns of 30+ common nonstandard spellings on Twitter (e.g. sholl for “sure”). We show nonstandard AAVE orthography delineates clear dialect regions, with shared phonological and lexical features. These regions are not coterminous with traditional North American dialect regions; rather, they align with patterns of movement during the Great Migration.

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so few of a words

January 4, 2015

Reported (from memory) by Jon Lighter on ADS-L on the 2nd, from historian Douglas Brinkley on CNN:

(1) It’s amazing how much Lincoln could say in so few of a words.

I haven’t found the quote on-line and don’t know if it’s been altered in the transcript. So few of a words could just be a speech error, but it could be the result of a series of extensions and innovations in the syntax of modification in English.

This discussion will unavoidably get pretty technical; read with care.

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Female archetypes in the movies

October 2, 2014

The first, summary, paragraph of the abstract for a Qualifying Paper in the Stanford Ph.D. program — by Sunwoo Jeong — on “Iconicity in Suprasegmental Variables:
The Case of Archetypal Hollywood Characters of the 1940s-50s”:

Films are potent vehicles that not only reflect common linguistic practices, but also create new social meanings for linguistic variables and actively shape dominant language ideologies of the era. This was especially the case for films made during the Golden Age of Hollywood in which several distinctive film genres, featuring highly stylized female characters, emerged as important cultural phenomena: femme fatales in film noir, independent brunettes in screwball comedies, and dumb blondes in musical comedies. This paper argues that systematic variation in suprasegmental linguistic cues like pitch, prosody, and voice quality was employed by the actresses to index the three prominent archetypes mentioned above, and more importantly, that the realizations of these variables were not arbitrary in that they created an iconic tie with the archetype that they indexed. Combined with other cinematic devices that fortified this iconic relation, the underlying ideologies behind these linguistic variables were more easily naturalized, resulting in wider dissemination.

(I’m way behind in posting on Neat Stuff by Stanford Students, but this one came in this morning and I thought I’d seize it before it fell into the To Do pit.)

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Ling wars in Dingburg

September 30, 2014

Today’s Zippy has Dingburgers, drawn into camps on issues of linguistic variation and usage, slinging lots of technical terminology:

Most of these features — the glottal stop, NG coalescence, like, awesome, uptalk, whatever, vocal fry (creak, creaky voice) — have been discussed on Language Log or here, because they are associated with a collection of geographic or social dialect characteristics (region, age, sex, class, etc.) or particular styles and registers; they are socioculturally significant, usually in quite complex ways. The remaining three — strident voice, slack voice, and falsetto — are phonation types that have, I think, escaped attention on these blogs

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