Archive for the ‘Dialects’ Category

Spoiling

May 8, 2018

An AMZ poetry moment.

From the New York Times Magazine, Terrance Hayes’s Poem column: “Too Many Cooks Spoil the Broth” (in print 5/6, on-line 5/4), by Aimee Nezhukumatathil:

Too many needles spoil the cloth.
Too many parrots spoil the talk.
Too many chapped lips spoil the gloss.
Too many teasel burs spoil the paw.
Too many bubbles spoil the froth.
Too many doorbells spoil the knock.
Too many seeds spoil the floss.
Too many feathers spoil the claw.
Too many lightbulbs spoil the moth.
Too many holes spoil the sock.
Too many sunbeams spoil the moss.
Too many kisses spoil the jaw.
Too many wolves spoil the flock.
Too many necks spoil the block.

All edgy domesticity until the end, when ravening wolves and beheadings erupt.

(more…)

The Prodigal Tongue

April 13, 2018

Lynne Murphy’s new book, recently released (my own copy is to arrive today). I’m getting the red edition rather than the blue; both are for sale in both the US and the UK, but they’re not quite the same, as you’ll see from looking at their subtitles:

(more…)

Bits of culture

March 29, 2018

… and truncated expressions. From Sam Anderson’s “New Sentences” column in the NYT Magazine on the 20th (on-line) and 25th (in print), “From Morgan Parker’s ‘There Are More Beautiful Things Than Beyoncé’”, about ‘Summertime and the living is extraordinarily difficult’:

Every culture is a vast carpet of interwoven references: clichés, fables, jingles, lullabies, warnings, jokes, memes. To be a part of that culture means that it only takes a few words, the tiniest head fake, to set your mind racing along a familiar track. You can lead a horse to. There once was a man from. When the moon hits your eye. If you liked it then you shoulda.

One trick of art is to constantly invoke — and then manipulate and complicate — these familiar mental scripts. The artist sets your mind on a well-worn road, and then, just as you settle into that automatic groove, yanks you suddenly in another direction. It’s the same trick as a crossover dribble. Great art is always, if you will, breaking your mind’s ankles.

(more…)

yoozed

February 15, 2018

The One Big Happy from January 13th, with a widespread nonstandard pronoun:

Freestanding youse /yuz/ (= you /yu/ + pl /z/) and modifying youse in youse guys ‘you guys’. In any case, a 2pl form distinct from 2sg you. The form is complexly distributed according to geography, social class, and other factors — in a way that suggests it has been invented several times in different contexts.

And then there’s the pun on used /yuzd/.

(more…)

Two cute guys with accents

February 4, 2018

From the annals of tv watching: Eddie Cahill as Tag Jones in season 7 of the sitcom Friends (and then as Det. Don Flack in CSI: New York); and Lucas Black as Special Agent Christopher LaSalle on NCIS: New Orleans. Both men are strongly physical actors with mobile expressive faces and both smile amiably a lot — they are really cute guys — and both do notable local accents: EC white working-class NYC in CSI: New York and LB white NOLA in NCIS: New Orleans. Both accents build on the actors’ native varieties — EC’s NYC and LB’s Alabamian — but with crafting (quite considerable on LB’s part) to fit their characters.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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’.

(more…)

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.

(more…)

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.

(more…)