I’m totally fascinated by the way people talk. Accents, vocabulary and emphasis varies so much, depending on where in the country you live. I lived in the Midwest (land of “pop,” not “soda”) until I was 9, which is probably why my speaking accent is generally pretty flat and indistinct. But I also happened to move with my family to the South and the Northeast, so I’ve heard a wide range of accents and ways of speaking. My flat accent is probably why I won my fifth grade declamation contest when I lived in Fort Worth, Texas. (It was with a poem creepily titled “Touch of the Master’s Hand,” ahem.)
Joshua Katz, a Ph.D. student in statistics at North Carolina State University, created a series of 22 maps exploring the varied and wonderful language and pronunciations around the country. Katz looked at everything from the way people pronounce the word “lawyer,” to the various and sundry terms for traffic circles (roundabouts, rotaries, etc.). The data is really fun to look at, but I must take exception with his discussion of how people around the country address a group. Yes, there’s “y’all” in the South, “you guys” in the West and “you all” in a small pocket of Kentucky. But there’s also “youse” in Philadelphia and “yinz” in Baltimore and Pittsburgh!
Take a look at Katz’s map, and some of the other ones at the link and tell us about the little phrases and words people say where you live!
Anthony Weiner’s communications director calling a former intern a “cunt,” “slutbag” and other slurs is just one aspect of the choppy waters surrounding the sex scandal-ridden NYC mayoral candidate’s sinking campaign. But of all the what-are-they-thinking? Weiner campaign moments in the past few weeks, it is the one that has stood out in my mind. Because when Barbara Morgan, the communications director, went off to a Talking Points Memo reporter about former intern Olivia Nuzzi, who dished secrets about the campaign in the New York Daily News, it wasn’t just Morgan’s overall frustration or unprofessionalism that was questionable. It was how she called another woman “cunt.”
That’s a word that I use myself, quite liberally in fact. Now I’m thinking maybe I shouldn’t anymore. Keep reading »
These days, most people use their phones for texting or as very expensive paper weights. So it makes sense that since we’re texting way more than we’re talking, we’d need to develop some extra punctuation to handle all of the little intricacies of a typing-based world. Like Mockwotations, for when you’re like “I’m totally going to do that thing that’ll never ever do, kthanksbye!” Thankfully, Mike Trapp of College Humor created a whole slew of new marks that perfectly encapsulate the needs of our irony-rich, highly truncated world. Click through to see some of our favorite marks. [College Humor]
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I don’t like hearing about any languages disappearing, but the idea of French’s demise seems intolerable. Fortunately, it is also probably impossible, at least in the near future, but French is a language in decline. Organisation Internationale de la Francophonie (OIF) is an organization dedicated to promoting democracy, peace, and human rights in the 70 French-speaking countries, and also to preserving the French language. In honor of Bastille Day (today!), here are 10 words and phrases with no English equivalents that make the unmistakable case for Français. Read more…
Women! Our strange vocal tics and annoying upspeak patterns are actually groundbreaking and important, so says science. Linguists now say that a lot of the vocal embellishments women and girls use are actually a lot more sophisticated and refined than previously thought. Take that, Valley Girl doubters!
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Once upon a time, a flight attendant was called a stewardess. Police officers and fighterfighters were policemen and firemen. And all women were addressed based on their marital status as “Miss” or “Mrs.” But not anymore, in large thanks to writer Kate Swift, who died on Saturday at age 87. Keep reading »
See! Words really are the key to our hearts! I have always known this of course, but science finally got the memo. A new study suggests that a crucial determinant of compatibility in love is finding someone who talks just like you. Matching use of personal pronouns, articles, prepositions, and adverbs likely gets the chemistry flowing between two people. In fact, we are four times as likely to go on a date with someone who has a slightly above average language match to our own. Language also predicts how long we’ll stay together. Researchers found that couples who text or IM using similar language patterns were 50 percent more likely to keep dating than those who didn’t. I believe this is referred to as “good communication.” What a concept. Next time I go on a date, I’m gonna try repeating everything the guy says and see if he falls madly in love with me and my 100 percent language match. Just kidding, but that would be kind of an entertaining experiment, although he’ll probably think I belong in a psych ward. [USA Today] Keep reading »