Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Talk

Here's an interesting video about what Americans say and how we say it.  At present, Americans are generally intelligible to each other, and with greater intercommunication, perhaps no dialect will go so far that it might as well be another language.

What's fascinating about dialects is how you barely notice yours until you go somewhere else. And then, sometimes, you say what others say to mix in, but feel weird about it.  Sometimes it's not too hard, but there are other cases where I don't think certain words could ever come out of my mouth.

I grew up saying pop, and I still feel a little strange saying soda. (When I was a kid, a soda was pop with ice cream in it.)  But I can't imagine ever saying Coke for some generic carbonated beverage.

I say sub--submarine sandwich is too formal.  I can imagine saying hero, but not hoagy. Po' boy is out of the question.  (I thought po' boys were something specific, not subs, but I guess they can be considered such.)

I usually say tennis shoes (and you don't have to play tennis to wear them, any more than you have to put gloves in your glove compartment).  Sneakers is okay, though gym shoes sounds weird.

I probably say freeway most of the time, though I use it interchangeably with highway.  I suppose freeways used to be particular types of highways--ones without tolls--but where I grew up I don't remember any tolls anyway, so maybe it made no difference. I never say expressway, though I've got nothing against it.

I would say you guys when referring to several people (though even that sounds a little weird).  I would never say y'all, no matter how long I lived in the South, and you'd have to put a gun to my head to make me say yous.

The only part of the video I didn't quite get was the various words for subway.  Terms like the T, BART, the Metro or the El (or L) seems to me proper nouns based on the locality, not generic dialect for all subways.  I've used these terms when I was in those towns, but I knew enough to refer to the subway when I was in other cities.  Or do, say, Bostonians ask where the nearest T station is in New York?


Blogger New England Guy said...

they left out yins

3:45 AM, December 10, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And yangs?

8:42 AM, December 10, 2014  
Anonymous Denver Guy said...

"The Devil is Beating his Wife"?!?

I have never heard that.

Anybody ever wear dungarees instead of jeans?

8:55 AM, December 10, 2014  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And Farmer Johns instead of overalls.

9:08 AM, December 10, 2014  
Blogger New England Guy said...

Yins: Western PA for youse, you guys or y'all. Those who say it are called yinzers which they consider a slur

11:56 AM, December 10, 2014  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

I had never heard of "yins"!

More common than "you guys" is the generic "you [plural noun]". Thus: "You soldiers will have to be brave." "There's a holiday for you students next week."

As a native Californian, I find "sneakers" and "pop" sound like something out of the Brady Bunch. Whereas "y'all" sounds like a word from a distant place, "pop" sounds like a word from a distant time.

And I agree that NOBODY has ever used "BART" as a generic term. Maybe someone has used "Metro", but I doubt it. Here in DC, people use the term "Metro" to refer to our specific transport system, just as we did with "BART" in the Bay Area. Technically, according to the website, "Metro" includes not only the railway but also the DC-area bus system -- but nobody uses the word that way. If someone is taking the bus, they say "bus".

By the way, not only have TV and radio made dialects and accents fade away, but they have also caused people to hear their own accents! A friend from Little Rock tells me that when he speaks he doesn't hear any accent, but when he listens to his own voice on tape he is shocked to hear his own border-Southern accent.

12:39 PM, December 10, 2014  
Blogger ColumbusGuy said...

Oooh, I like that, hearing the accent in the recording. It's absolutely true it's a different experience. Seems as if it should not be but apparently the feedback comes from the act, which I suppose makes sense.

On a different point, I've got a dollar that says none of you has warshed his car in the last week.

1:10 PM, December 10, 2014  
Blogger New England Guy said...

I dint but my mom (still resident in Pittsburgh and a retired English teacher to boot)said her car needs worshed soon (If I try to correct her, she will amend to "warshed")

In Boston I just say the train whether its the T, the commuter rail or the Green line trolleys- but that is because I am lazy

4:47 PM, December 10, 2014  

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