Saturday, January 4, 2014
What Dialect do you Speak?
We all speak an English dialect and absolutely no one actually speaks their real ancestral language including those of English heritage. That is how language is trying to continually shift to something else on an ongoing basis. The only thing that saves us from disintegration is some form of educational standard that historically was anchored by the King’s James Bible. If you do not believe this, try reading the contemporaneous plays of Shakespeare.
Even pinning a national language does not really work convincingly. Thus we have emergent dialects everywhere we look. This describes what all we have today. It is fun to compare and to listen too. At least it is not England were divergence is vast, yet not enough to define completely new languages.
Fortunately media is now creating a working sense of language convergence. We are comparing our voices to each other across vast gulfs in culture and history and we are doing it through some rough form of English. This has the mutual benefit of providing a common lookup dictionary over which is possible to agree on meaning for thousands if not millions of words and potential words.
What dialect do you speak? A map of American English
BY REID WILSON
December 2 at 10:48 am
Do you pahk the cah in Hahvahd yahd? Do you refer to multiple people as “dey”? Is a jelly doughnut called a “bismark,” or is everything that comes out of a soda fountain called a coke, even if it’s really 7-Up? Do you root for Da Bears?
The way we speak, both the phrases we use and the accents that inflect those phrases, come from our upbringings. And in a nation of more than 300 million people, it’s little wonder that those accents vary widely. More than a decade ago, Robert Delaney, a reference associate at Long Island University, of the 24 regions of American English:
Dialects and Subdialects of American English in the 48 conterminous states, image copyright Robert Delaney
These are the cah pahkahs, the blue collar residents from Maine to Massachusetts who drop their Rs and substitute an H. when he hangs out with Nancy Donovan on “30 Rock.”
There are a few sub-dialects in the Hub, from the stereotypical Southie dialect ( on “Saturday Night Live”) to the Boston Brahmin (John Kerry). The differences are more determined by class than anything else.
Outside eastern Massachusetts, it’s the T that gets dropped. The last Democratic president was Bill Clin-n, for example. It’s not as distinctive as the eastern accent.
Dutch settlers, Delaney says, influenced language development north of New York City. The sitting area in front of your doorstep is a stoop, and the best-sellers at Dunkin’ Donuts are crullers and olycooks.
The mix of ethnicities that built the Big Apple created their own dialect that doesn’t sound much like the rest of America. TH sounds become Ds, and words get smashed together easily. There’s no better example than in “My Cousin Vinny.”
A small and dwindling dialect on Long Island, which was once a part of New England. Combine New York City and Eastern New England and you get the idea.
Upstate New York and Vermont combine Western New England and the Midwest, and words like marry, merry and Mary are all pronounced identically. Delaney points out another doughnut difference: Here, they’re called friedcakes.
The city by the bay has more in common with the East Coast than the West Coast, thanks to the settlers who originally made their way to the Bay Area. San Franciscans speak a mishmash of Northeastern and Midwestern English.
Home of the Midwestern twang, influenced by a combination of Northeasterners and Southerners who migrated up the Mississippi River, as well as the Scandinavian immigrants who settled the area. A subdialect in and around Minnesota reflects more of that Norwegian influence. Think
would be proud. Chicago’s distinctive dialect is influenced by what linguists call the Northern Cities Vowel Shift, when short vowels started sounding like their longer cousins. Chicago’s dialect was influenced by migrants who , west from the Northeast. They root, of course, for .
Here’s where the European immigrants who didn’t move to New York City start playing a role. The Scotch-Irish, German and Quaker settlers from Pennsylvania to the central Midwest created what Delaney calls a “transition zone” between the north and south. Doughnuts are dunkers or fatcakes.
A small but distinct dialect in the center of the Keystone State, probably spoken by . The grammar system is the most distinctive remnant of the region’s immigrant populations; it sounds more like German than English.
Think Montana, Colorado and Utah. Heavy influences from frontier settlers and Native American languages.
More influence from Native American languages. An example is the potluck, a gathering where everyone brings a dish, a derivation of the Native American “potlatch.” Muckatymuck, known elsewhere as a big shot, is another Native American term adopted by Northwesterners. But there’s less of an accent here than elsewhere, given the fact that the region was settled relatively recently.
The settlers who showed up came to California for the gold, and that still shows in some of their slang — Delaney cites “pay dirt,” “pan out” and “goner” as phrases that started in California. Sub-dialects of Valley Girls and Surfer Dudes are ripe for parody, as in and from the timeless classic “Clueless.”
Mexican dialects of Spanish infuse Southwestern English, though the region is still what Delaney calls a melting pot of other dialects. Words like “patio” and “plaza” became a part of everyday English thanks to the Southwest.
West of the Appalachians and into North Texas, speakers here sometimes put an A before a word ending in -ING, in place of words like “are.” TH is often replaced with an F. Delaney says this region retains more strains of Elizabethan English than modern British English has, including words like “ragamuffin,” “reckon” and “sorry,” meaning “inferior.”
The “g” in gerunds doesn’t survive often here. But overall, the accent is pretty similar to the South Midlands.
A syrupy drawl starts to develop south of Washington, where the letter R, when coming after a vowel, becomes what Delaney calls a slided sound. So “four dogs” sounds like “fo-uh dahawgs.”
Similar to the Piedmont drawl, but with more remnants of Colonial English. Something diagonally across the street is “catty-corner.”
A Creole mix found in coastal areas of Georgia and South Carolina combines English with West African languages brought over by slaves who entered the U.S. in the 1700s and 1800s. Words like “peruse,” “yam” and “samba” all entered the country here.\
Basically the Deep South minus Georgia and New Orleans. It’s a result of mixing English settlers from the southern colonies with French settlers in Louisiana, and it’s where we get words like “armoire,” “bisque” and “bayou.”
The French settlers who first traveled up the Mississippi River brought a whole mess of dialects. They include Cajun French, which incorporates some Spanish, and Cajun English, which makes New Orleans “Nawlins.”
Here’s another way linguists view the English dialects spoken in the U.S.: