Archive for the ‘Dialects’ Category

Wild Asia in Sonoma

September 14, 2017

Tuesday morning on KRCB (NPR station in Sonoma CA), a brief piece about the Quarryhill Botanical Garden there and a forthcoming Quarryhill lecture by Andrea Wulf, author of a recent book on Alexander von Humboldt. The garden was new to me, as was the book, and both are fascinating, but what mostly got my attention was the reporter’s pronunciation of quarry — with accented æ, to rhyme (in my variety of English) with Larry, Harry, carry, and marry.

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Non-standard sex talk

May 26, 2017

I’ll start with the steamy gay sex talk from an on-line messaging site — sensitive readers are hereby warned about this content — and then go on to focus on a non-standard syntactic construction in this exchange, what the YGDP (the Yale University Grammatical Diversity Project: English in North America) calls the Needs Washed construction (using as a label an instance of the instruction), involving a PSP complement of a head V.

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Ruthie faces the unfamiliar, again

May 19, 2017

The One Big Happy in my comics feed today:

Rockefellers / rocky fellows. How was Ruthie to know her grandmother was using a proper name? And fellers is a familiar dialect variant for fellows – and an old one (Americans have been labeling feller an “impropriety” or “provincialism”, with an “excrescent” r, since at least 1795, according to DARE).

Ruthie undoubtedly also didn’t know that the Rockefeller family has long been seen as the richest family in the world, hence as the, um, gold standard of wealth. Which gives We’re no / not Rockefellers as an idiom meaning, roughly, ‘We’re not rich’.

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Words. words, words

May 7, 2017

From a King Features Comics Kingdom posting on the 3rd, “Ask a Cartoonist: Words to Live By” (by tea), three cartoons on words in comics: a Dustin on adolescent sniggering over potential double entendres and two Zippys about repeating words for sheer pleasure.

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Chub and chums in the morning

April 17, 2017

Yesterday’s morning name was chub (the name of a fish), which led me to the rest of the bilabial-final family: chum, chump, and chup. (And that led to the velar-final family chug, Chung, chunk, chuck, but I won’t pursue that one here.) As it is, the bilabials will lead us into many surprising places, including the Hardy Boys books, eyewear retainers, Australian dog food, gay slurs, and hunky underwear models.

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Two in One Big Happy

January 27, 2017

Two recent One Big Happy strips: one with an outrageous pun from Ruthie and Joe’s father, one with Ruthie once again attempting to engage the neighbor boy James on his grammar:

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(#2)

If you’re a bit puzzled by James’s “Ain’t nobody going!” in #2, you have a right to be.

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Two cartoons for month’s end

October 31, 2016

.. and Halloween, though, pleasingly, neither has anything to do with All Hallows’ / All Souls’ / All Saints’. A One Big Happy that’s a study in American (and Antipodal) phonology; and a Zippy with a fallen roadside fiberglass hero, the Green Giant of Pahrump NV:

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Zippy goes out to catch a bite

October 15, 2016

… in two recent strips, first at Dippin’ Donuts and then at the Sugar Shack. Looks like sweet tooth days for our Pinhead. Both strips are strewed with allusions of all kinds, of course.

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Cartoony days

June 2, 2016

(This takes a turn to sexual politics that some — though not, I think, Bill Griffith — might find surprising.)

Today’s Zippy offers us some office soap opera between boss (Don) and employee (Ms. Carlisle), from the point of view of Ms. Carlisle:

(#1)

The topic is a familiar one in Zippyland: cartoonishness or cartooniness, indicated by various physical characteristics — noses, eyes, eyebrows, ears, jawlines, and mouths. In Zippyland, of course, everyone’s a cartoon character and they’re all dressed like one, but some of them are “realistic”, normal, regular folks,, while others are flagrantly cartoony.

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Ain’t it the truth?

April 5, 2016

In today’s feed, this One Big Happy from 3/7:

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The linguistic point: Ruthie’s mother’s “Ain’t it the truth?” — ain’t in the speech of someone who almost surely isn’t otherwise a user of this word. Instead, she’s playfully quoting a very widespread non-standardism, much as if she’d said “C’est vrai!” or “Veritable!”, in French, in the middle of an English conversation, conveying the equivalent of informal “That’s for sure!” or “You said it!”

The McGraw-Hill Dictionary of American Idioms and Phrasal Verbs (2002) has an entry for “Ain’t it the truth” as a conventionalized expression, both in non-standard varieties and as an importation into informal standard speech:

Rur. or Jocular That is true.; Isn’t that true? (Used to agree with a statement someone has made.) Jane: I swear, life can be a trial sometimes. Bill: Yes, Lordy. Ain’t it the truth?

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