Do You Speak American?

June 5, 2007

After finding PBS’s web site for Do You Speak American? I intended to have a long post on this topic, but I’ve been browsing through the material for days and have still found no end to it.

It looks as if there was a documentary broadcast on TV back in 2005, and the producers organized all their notes and chucked them up on the ‘net. This is how journalism should be done. It is an amazing wealth of knowledge and I wish I’d known about it before. Dorks like me could spend months on a site like this.

There is too much to go into in much depth, but the site contains essays and research papers from linguists on everything from the “decline” of English to detailed analyses of American dialects. (I was especially fascinated by the section on the Lumbee, a group of 40,000 Native Americans in Robeson County, NC who use words like “mommuck” and “ellick” and are still struggling for official formal recognition from the US federal government.)  You can also read about human perception of computerized voices (high-end BMW drivers, apparently, prefer their cars to “speak” like males) and how Buffy the Vampire Slayer relates to slang. There are quizzes (What is “blue sky” and where is it played?), videos, audio clips, and a “verb conjugation machine,” where you can create verb sequences like “glide, glode, glidden” just for the fun of it.

This is really an amazing collection of information. Enjoy!

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One Response to “Do You Speak American?”

  1. Vox Says:

    I am so glad you posted this site. It’s fantastic. And it’s perfect timing, since I start my English language immersion class today. I’ll have to share!

    I’ve always loved stuff like this. Gramps (my mom’s dad) was from Indiana and his family was a good part PA Dutch, so he always had some odd idioms and words and stuff. Same with my grandpa from the Ozarks (I have way too many sets of grandparents, I’ve just now realized). And then with a couple of other grandparents being multilingual, it’s just neat to see how language comes into play in society and how that matches up with my childhood.


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