Ben Trawick-Smith’s Dialect Blog has post about diversity in Canadian Anglophone accents. The conclusion, yes there are distinctions, but they are subtle. There are no major divides, like between the Southern States and the rest of the United States or strong urban dialects, like Cockney or Scouse.
Theater and Storytelling
Holger Syme discusses the difference between theater and storytelling. Storytelling is a buzzword in theater and film nowadays, but Syme makes a persuasive case that drama is not storytelling.
I had thought storytelling, as used in the dramatic arts, was, in essence, something quite distinct from the storytelling techniques of narrative literature. But Syme makes the point that a good deal of modern drama is just writing read out loud, that good drama is distinctly different from literature.
Video Friday: Dan Castellaneta on D’oh
Homer Simpson’s classic “annoyed grunt” was enshrined in the Oxford English Dictionary back in 2001. The Big List entry on d’oh is here. But you can hear the origin of the exclamation from the horse’s mouth in this video:
Visualizing Word Origins
I seldom link to older blog posts, but this one is right up our alley, and I’ve only just come across it. Back in April, mkinde of the blog Ideas Illustrated created some multicolor visualizations of the origins of words in various types of writing, such as a passage from Twain’s Tom Sawyer, Dickens’s Great Expectations, medical writing, sports writing, and legal writing. He used Douglas Harper’s Online Etymology Dictionary as his source for the etymologies.
The result is striking and drives home the point of how many of our most-used words come from Old English, but it also drives home the degree to which reliance on words from Old English can vary significantly with genre; it’s much lower in legal and medical writing. We often think of writing as generic, but it isn’t. Different genres and audiences require different registers and vocabularies.
I was going to voice a quibble over possible confusion between Latin, Old Norse, and Old English, but there’s no need. Old English contains many words from Old Norse and a few, but oft-used, words from Latin (mainly ecclesiastical and religious terms), so there can be some definitional disputes over language of origin. But it appears that all the words marked as Old Norse or Latin are post-Conquest additions to the language (or at least aren’t in recorded use until after William crossed the Channel). If the word’s root was in English use before 1066, it’s marked as Old English. So kudos for getting a subtle point correct.
[Tip o’ the hat to Languagehat.]
In the years 2006 to the present, North Korea tests a nuclear weapon; Apple releases the iPhone; the U. S. housing market collapses, taking the world economy with it; Bill Gates steps down from the chairmanship of Microsoft; Barack Obama is elected the first African-American president of the United States; Somali pirates terrorize the Indian Ocean shipping lanes; the Large Hadron Collider begins operations at CERN in Geneva, Switzerland; protests spring up throughout the Arab world, toppling governments from Tunisia to Egypt; the U. S. military kills Osama bin Laden; and Queen Elizabeth marks her sixtieth year on the throne.Read the rest of the article...
In 2005, North Korea announces that it possesses nuclear weapons; Iraq holds its first free parliamentary elections in nearly fifty years; Lance Armstrong wins his record seventh consecutive Tour de France; astronomer Michael Brown discovers the dwarf planet Eris, which is larger than Pluto; YouTube is founded; the film Brokeback Mountain premieres; and hurricane Katrina devastates New Orleans and the U. S. Gulf Coast.Read the rest of the article...
The Oxford English Dictionary has 8 words with first citations from 2004. In that year, a 9.3 magnitude earthquake in the Indian Ocean triggers a tsunami that kills some quarter million people; cases of prisoner abuse at the U. S. military prison at Abu Ghraib, Iraq are revealed; terrorists bomb rush-hour trains in Madrid, killing 191; Chechen militants take over eleven-hundred people hostage in a school in Beslan, North Ossetia, with 334 killed when Russian security forces storm the building three days later; the Boston Red Sox break the Bambino’s Curse and win their first World Series since 1918; the NBC-TV series Friends ends its run; NASA’s Spirit and Opportunity rovers land on Mars, and their missions, planned for only ninety days, were so successful that Spirit continued to operate for 2,269 days and Opportunity continues to work as of this writing; Chinese PC maker Lenovo announces that it will purchase IBM’s personal computer business, ending the reign of the IBM PC; and San Francisco issues marriage licenses to gay couples in defiance of California law.Read the rest of the article...
The Oxford English Dictionary has 6 words with first citations from 2003. In that year, the United States invades and occupies Iraq; Washington Post columnist Robert Novak publishes the name of CIA operative Valerie Plame, leading to an investigation and scandal over who in the Bush administration leaked her name; California governor Gray Davis is recalled and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger is elected in his place; the Space Shuttle Columbia disintegrates on re-entry during mission STS-107, killing all seven astronauts aboard; SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, becomes a pandemic, with over eight thousand cases and nine hundred deaths worldwide; Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code is a bestseller, definitively proving that indeed there is no accounting for taste; style guru and businesswoman Martha Stewart is indicted for insider trading and obstructing justice; and the supersonic Concorde makes its last commercial flight.Read the rest of the article...
The Oxford English Dictionary has 6 words with first citations from 2002. In that year, the “Beltway snipers” terrorize Washington, D. C. and suburban Maryland and Virginia, killing ten and injuring three others before the pair were captured; tennis player Serena Williams defeats her sister Venus in straight sets in the finals of the French Open; Peter Paul Rubens’s painting The Massacre of the Innocents sells for US$76.2 million at auction; American Idol debuts on U. S. television, with Kelly Clarkson winning the first season; fourteen-year-old Elizabeth Smart is kidnapped at knifepoint—she would eventually be recovered alive nine months later; and a portion of the Larsen Ice Shelf off Antarctica the size of the U. S. state of Rhode Island breaks off due to global warming.Read the rest of the article...
The Oxford English Dictionary has 8 words with first citations from 2001. In that year, a Chinese fighter jet bumps a U. S. E-3 surveillance aircraft, killing the Chinese pilot and forcing the U. S. plane to land in Hainan, China where the crew was detained for ten days; Islamic terrorists fly two hijacked passenger aircraft into the World Trade Center towers in Manhattan, one into the Pentagon in Washington, D. C., and a fourth crashing into a field in Pennsylvania; the U. S. invades Afghanistan to hunt down the terrorists and depose the Taliban government that supported them; the energy-trading firm Enron files for bankruptcy; Peter Jackson’s film The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring hits the theaters; Wikipedia is launched; and the iPod makes its debut.Read the rest of the article...
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