Wednesday, January 11, 2012


The English Are the Faddish Ones

Only one of the many things wrong with The Patriot.

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I have been saying this to the English I work w/ for so long. They refuse to believe me.

In angry response, I tend to blast "Come Out Ye Black And Tans" when they aggravate me.

(Oh, also, I mean brits from England. I'm not Amish (you know cuz I'm using a computer) and referring to all outsiders as "English").


@leon.saintjean It's an Amish-friendly computer made of beards.


@leon.saintjean And powered by oxen

Nomie @twitter

@itmakesmewonder The laptop version is powered by a butter churn.


Many Amish do use computers! But only for business, not for The Hairpin.

Sella Turcica

@leon.saintjean "Come out ye black and tans!!!" First snort of the day! Good on ya, Leon.


@leon.saintjean You be careful out there among them English!


Accents in the south-west of England are rhotic. But I speak with RP, so... I don't know what my point is.


@rayray Do you now.


@melis Aw, melis. Don't be like that.


@rayray My friend taught me to speak in a West Country accent using the words "tractor" and "cider" ("trah-err" and "coi-derr", respectively). Then we went to the cider festival in Bath and listened to a Wurzels cover band, and it was DELIGHTFUL.







@melis Oh! I spose if I'm flustered and embarrassed about being so prickly it will be charming in a Hugh Grantish kind of way? Due to the accent?


@rayray Just stammer for, like, two months. I'm in London in March, so I'll find you by the embarrassed stammering.


@meetapossum Ah classic. Farmers and pirates, brought to you courtesy of the West Country.


@melis Okay, so I'm doing a weekend in London at the very beginning of March - we have to make a Pin-Up happen. I'm *sposed* to be there seeing my long-distance boyf, but he gets to see me once a month, dammit - I'm sure he'll understand that I can't pass up the chance to meet melis!


@rayray I'm there the 5th-13th! Email me!


I really enjoy this@k


Whaaaaat!? That is fucking crazy!


"New York and Boston accents became non-rhotic."
True. Except there's a weird rhotic discrepancy where some New Yorkers (like my mom) and some Rhode Islanders add r's onto the ends of words that don't have them, e.g., "drama" becomes "dramar."

Also, Jason Isaacs was effing hot in that movie. He needs to always play foppish, murderous assholes with long hair (see also: Harry Potter series, Peter Pan)


@applestoapples Jason Isaacs is pretty much the only thing that is right with The Patriot. Hubba hubba!


@applestoapples Let's call them "Rhodic."


@applestoapples The r-insertion is a phenomenon that also happens in many dialects of British English, and only with certain vowels. For more on that, see: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Linking_and_intrusive_R .

Also, with specific reference to New York r-deletion, there are at least a couple studies showing that it's much more common among lower socioeconomic classes. In one study, the researcher went into three different department stores (of varying swank-ness) and asked the salespeople for the location of an item he knew to be located on the fourth floor. The ritzier the place, the less likely the salespeople were to drop their r's.


@SarahDances I think a similar thing holds true with Boston accents, though not necessarily with r-dropping (since that seems to cut across socioeconomic class?). There is, however, more dropping/eliding of many consonants (T's spring to mind) among typical speakers that I think higher-class people wouldn't do.

For example, I tend to elide the T's out of the middle of words like kitten, mitten, and Clinton, and turn some T's into D's, whereas I'm pretty (priddy) sure people who are trying to speak "well" don't.


@SarahDances I would tend to agree (my mom wasn't affluent by any means, although you'd never know it by her snobbery). The heavier New York accents have definitely tended to be an indicator of non-blueblood status.
However, there's also a distinguishable, if significantly more slight, r-deletion amongst New York natives in higher socioeconomic classes. A person born and raised on the North Shore can still have a noticeably different accent than a Midwesterner, although regular exposure to different accents the Internet seems to be causing less of a demarcation between accents among the Milennial generation.


@applestoapples Interesting point re: exposure - I think it has an effect not only on accents, but on the vocabulary of different dialects. My grandmother called any type of soda "tonic," but that had phased out of the way people in MA learn to speak by the time I was a kid. That was all pre-internet, but I'd bet the increased exposure has led to a standardization of words, not just accents.


@Ophelia I think word standardization is definitely affected by the internet. As far as accents go, though, I did read an article in the Times about how the "real New York" accent was disappearing anyway because of the influx of non-natives into the city, so internet exposure may just be a technological extension of that.

It's funny how what we deem the "stronger" accents eventually get phased out in favor of the more generic ones, though. Even in the case of the American vs British accents in the linked article.


@yunkstahn what is Heath Ledger? chopped liver? blasphemy!



So, the battle at the end of the Patriot is actually based on a real battle at the end of the Revolutionary War called the Battle of Cowpens. It was the "little jewel" of the war that helped spur the Colonists on to final victory in Yorktown. Why do I know this? Where am I quoting the "little jewel" part from?

From my 7th Grade Research Paper. I spent probably six months intensively researching this OBSCURE battle from the Revolutionary War because all of the other battles were already taken. My dad and I worked feverishly, very much without the help of the internet (1998), to find sources for this project. IT WAS HARD. I got a B.

Fast forward, three years later. I am 15. I am in love with Heath Ledger. We go to see this movie and it slowly dawns on me....I know this. The colonists strategy, that little hill, the hook formation, the right flank, the Cornwallis figure....All of it. I know this. I wrote this. It's the Battle of Cowpens. A strategic masterpiece. The Little Jewel of the Revolutionary War.

It was a big day.


@samafaye I love everything about this.


Can someone say something more useful than me about that idea I have floating around my head that Queen Elizabeth I would have sounded more like a person from rural 21st c. Appalachia than from 21st c. Kensington?

No? Then I'll go dock myself 50% for this comment, for not having proper citations.

(My superhero power will be to have my "I read that somewheres" be accurate at all times.)


Yes! I just commented on this below! Said friend who believes this is from Alabama, if that gives him any clout. I have no idea where he got the information, though.


@PistolPackinMama I don't know, did you get it from reading Christy? Because I would talk about Christy. Also, as far as I know, the relationship between modern Appalachian dialects and circa-16th-century English English is tenuous at best and has all the markings of a rural legend.


Inasmuch as a traditionally devalued way of speaking supposedly has a secret link to a culturally prestigious way of speaking/is "purer" than other, more socially acceptable dialects.

one cow.

@PistolPackinMama Yes! I read this somewhere as well, and I remember it was a source that was legit! I've told people this, but can never remember the reference, which just makes me sound like a dum dum. It was something about how Shakespearean actors, if they want to be really accurate, should learn their dialect from rural West Virginians, or something. See?? Dum dum.



That is super-interesting. Even more interesting than the actual argument, I think. Also, "rural legend" is a terrific term. It's not just city people who have the folklore of the urban legend... thus the rural legend!

I have images of a PBS documentary in all this knowledge haze. Not that it would make the information more accurate if it was said on PBS, just, that figures into my vague associations.

@one cow- one might argue this issue is at least tangentially related to my actual areas of expertise. And I don't know, so I don't think that you can qualify as stupid if you don't have facts to hand. Also, I am enamored of @melis's comment, because, I don't know why. Because people are interesting? I guess?


"Oh, a foolery song," Clara enthused.


@melis You. I like you. And the things you type.


@melis @emby Thing is, @melis has read waaaaaay more classic literature than I have. I spend a shocking amount of semi-tasking time chasing down quotes (thank you, Google Books) so I at least recognize where the jokes come from.

(I just Google Booked Christy...)

Sydney C

@PistolPackinMama It is true- I learned it in my History and Structure of the English language class!


@PistolPackinMama Who are you? Have we talked before? Didn't you used to be somebody else??


@melis I seriously went and copy pasted your comment into Google to make sure it wasn't a reference to a book I haven't read.

Then I realized that might have been a question about the screen name change? In which case...

Yes. I was the mysterious lady wearing all black and carrying a rose and drinking an old fashioned at that one obscure cocktail party you went to once. I was sporting orange lipstick.


@PistolPackinMama No, I mean your handle! WHO WERE YOU THEN


@melis AnthroK8 I was the one with the shoe-wheel icon.


@PistolPackinMama ANTHROK8





Um. I don't know? New year, new handle and picture?

Because of the really famous picture of the All-Lady B17 Bomber flight crew. The plane was called Pistol Packin' Mama, and the ladies look like the kind of lady I want to be. That is, gorgeous, purposeful, and badass.

(funny, I had this exchange more or less with @wee_ramekin)


@melis Is changing your handle Not Done at Hairpin, and I committed some serious Pin-faux-pas? I am now worried.


@PistolPackinMama AHA! THAT'S why your comments seemed weirdly familiar. And also I was musing yesterday "hmmmm, I wonder where AnthroK8 is. She always has pithy dialogue to contribute." MYSTERY SOLVED.


@PistolPackinMama This article seems kinda sorta similar to the discussion at hand.


@one cow. I first read it in Susan Cooper's King Of Shadows where it's a plot point (time travel! Shakespeare!) but I don't know how legit it is.


@PistolPackinMama This comment gave me a flashback of an article passed around work a couple of years ago! They did a performance and tried to approximate Shakespeare's accent as closely as possible: http://www.physorg.com/news/2010-10-professor-audience-shakespeare-words-accent.html


A friend of mine is convinced that English accents at the time of the Revolutionary War sounded like today's Southern accents.


The Patriot was just proof that 14 year old me would do anything to watch her some Heath Ledger.
Modern day me is just going through different accents in her head and trying to figure out how r-ish they sound.


@teaandcakeordeath If you want to spend a day listening to accents and analyzing IPA transcriptions, go here: http://accent.gmu.edu/

The linguistics major in me is loving this thread!


@SarahDances I both love you and hate you for this link.


Oooh i could listen to these all day. I wish I had something more intelligent to say than 'different people sound different!' but its still fascinating me.


Never forget that scene when the cannonball is rolling on the ground and just knocks that guy's leg off. And the French dude saying, "Your sense of freedom is as pale as your skin." And I was like, "oooh BURN!"


Gah, now I am going to be unable to speak all day without overthinking my pronunciation. THANKS PINNERS.


I did a podcast about this subject with this cool professor from William and Mary! It's one of my favorites. Listen: http://www.history.org/media/podcasts.cfm?which=NewWorldEnglish

Honey Vadger

Is this why all of the bumbling constables in "Jeeves & Wooster" sound like rednecks?


yes. story: I live in australia on and off with 3 yanks (americans. that's what we call you here) and they, being the majority only in our household, are therefore able to talk about finding my (kiwi-ozzie-lived lots o places) pronounciations charming ("chaaa-ming!").

it all came to head over how I say weird ("weeead"), which I seem to say often, and everytime would result in an echo of "weeead!"s, at which point one day I told them that I was pronouncing it correctly, because there was "cleeeea-ly no R in weeead!" ... and now, all of us, plus a selection of other friends of various origins, say - often all of us, all at once "weeeead! cleeeeea-ly!" whenever something is a bit odd. which makes any situation even odder, having four or five adult women all spontaneously repeatedly yelling "weeeead! cleeeeea-ly!" "cleeea-ly, weeeeeead!"


@zoe Lol, I'm also Australian and my Canadian boyfriend is convinced I don't pronounce the letter 'r' in words but add it to the ends of words instead. It's probably why I'm terrible at imitating Canadian accents. But possibly could do ok at a Boston or Southern US accent...

oh well never mind

Pin-up in London yay...?


It probably didn't help the accents in The Patriot that 1.5ish of the 'American' leads were Australian. Mel Gibson I'm counting as partially Australian as was US born but grew up in Aus at 12 years old. (And while us Australians like to claim a lot of successful people as our own, frankly I think we gave him up a while ago - at least I like to believe so.)

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