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...
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