[Reading] ➶ Do You Speak American? By Robert MacNeil – Jobs-in-kingston.co.uk Is American English in decline Are regional dialects dying out Is there a difference between men and women in how they adapt to linguistic variationsThese uestions and about our language catapulted Ro Is American English in decline Are regional dialects dying out Is there a difference between men and women in how they adapt to linguistic variationsThese uestions and about our language catapulted Robert MacNeil and William Cran—the authors with Robert McCrum of the language classic The Story of English—across the country in search of the answers Do You Speak American is the tale of their discoveries which provocatively show how the standard for American English—if a standard exists—is changing uickly and Do You PDF \ dramatically On a journey that takes them from the Northeast through Appalachia and the Deep South and west to California the authors observe everyday verbal interactions and in a host of interviews with native speakers glean the linguistic uirks and traditions characteristic of each area While examining the histories and controversies surrounding both written and spoken American English they address anxieties and assumptions that when explored are highly emotional such as the growing influence of Spanish as a threat to American English and the special treatment of African American vernacular English And challenging the purists who think grammatical standards are in serious deterioration and that media saturation of our culture is homogenizing our speech they surprise us with unpredictable responsesWith insight and wit MacNeil and Cran bring us a compelling book that is at once a celebration and a potent study of our singular languageEach wave of immigration has brought new words to enrich the American language Do you recognize the origin of blunderbuss sleigh stoop coleslaw boss waffleOr dumb ouch shyster check kaput scram bummerOr phooey pastrami glitch kibbitz schnozzleOr broccoli espresso pizza pasta macaroni radioOr smithereens lollapalooza speakeasy hooliganOr vamoose chaps stampede mustang ranch corral Dutch German Yiddish Italian Irish Spanish From the Hardcover edition. I am not a linguist but I was raised by one As a result of hearing different languages and different language dialects throughout my life I have a love of listening to the various dialects of America and other countries which is why I picked up this book I loved the way it was written both with an educational tone and with a certain humorBeing the average curious American had an advantage when reading through the pages since the topics covered were widespread They would have to be since the book is meant to be a companion to the PBS show and is not very long I would imagine that serious linguists who are looking for a very deep look into American dialects in general or for something on specific American dialects probably won't find new information here while those wanting to casually dip into the subject will find themselves happily reading to the endI will happily hold out this book to anyone who is curious about American English because I think that a better understanding of language and dialect help us better understand the cultures we aren't always exposed to and bring us to a deeper understanding of those around us Maybe some day there will be a time when a well educated man won't have to lose his southern accent to be accepted as one of the top in his field Until then we can pass around the knowledge within these pages and help people understand the links between dialect and our automatic responses to language itself I loved reading this book because it was full of so much fascinating information about the American English language The book provided an excellent overview with some depth as to what the major dialects are Southern Inland Midwestern Black Chicano etc how they have been shaped historically and how they continue to shape mainstream American English The book is well organized into chapters that flow and I think it does a nice job of showing both sides of each of the major debates about American language and dialects Overall I think this is a great mainstream book about the American English languageThis book does not go into as much depth as I would have liked but I don't think that was the intent of it In order to learn specifics about dialects and the constantly changing state of our language you probably need to turn to academicresearch focused resourcs It does however do a great job of introducing the basics and asks plenty of thought provoking uestions This book contained a ton of interesting facts It made me think about language particularly the language of others in a less critical light But I had to force myself to finish because the presentation was dry and sometimes too drawn out The choppy transitions between topics suggest that this book is a transcript of the TV special and was not edited to fit the print format If you are thinking of getting the book you might consider watching the video instead That I plan on watching it should speak to how interesting I found the topic I think in video format this would be much engaging and it would be fun to actually hear people talking instead of reading the authors' description of different dialects As I have noted before on occasion my native American accent is Western Pennsylvanian 1 one of the dialects spoken of in this book There are some dialects and this is one of them that have a mixed sort of prestige Locally and I am a witness of this there is a great deal of pride in the distinctiveness of the accent of Pittsburgh and surrounding areas where creek is pronounced crick where people go to Ver sails but also Du kain where people appreciate Giant Iggle cheer on the Stillers and are fond of yinz as long as you are one of their kind This particular work is a descriptivist work on the diversity of American dialects and the ways in which they are viewed by others There were times in reading this book where I cheered the authors on for their dedication to understanding a variety of different dialects and their remarkable divergence in the last few decades and there were times I wanted to slap the writers upside their head for their whiny left wing political worldview in matters of language In short this was a book that I had strongly ambivalent feelings about In terms of its structure and contents this particular book is a little over 200 pages and is divided topically into eight chapters The first chapter deals with the language wars which the authors criticize for the way that some dialects are stigmatized The authors then discuss the changing dialects of the United States based on their origins in different parts of England a discussion that wouldn't be out of place in books about population migrations The third chapter looks at the elements of building a standard American English form based on some of the distinctive ualities of a wide variety of dialects The fifth chapter looks at the politically charged issue of Hispanic immigration and determines that there is a great deal of assimilation according to past models that has been disguised in large part by the continual nature of that immigration The sixth chapter looks at how Black English has been simultaneously bad mouthed and culturally appropriated in part because of its 'forbidden' and 'exotic' nature The seventh chapter looks at the changing nature of contemporary American English including the great shift of vowel and consonant sounding in different dialects and the book ends with an interesting discussion of the difficulties computers have in recognizing distinct accents at present and the implications of dialect standardization based on communicating with computersOne of the irritating assumptions this book makes is that it is a bad thing to enforce some sort of common dialect on an entire population or the sake of everyone being able to understand everyone else regardless of background or one's native dialect The writers sniff that it is too difficult for people to learn prestige dialects simply in order for a certain uniformity to exist among all who wish to be viewed as cultured people within the United States At the same time though the authors praise those who are able to successfully engage in code switching where they are able to use multiple dialects to their own social advantage depending on where they are which over the course of my own life has been a simple survival skill in the face of fairly large social liabilities Most European young people who have any remote pretensions towards being intelligent learn three or four languages well enough to communicate through their schooling It should not be too much to demand knowledge of a common American dialect in addition to a foreign language from any student who wishes to engage in an honorable professional life We ought to be aware that we are making a demand but there are prices to living in a free republic and one of those is encouraging unity among diversity rather than simply praising diversity for its own sake without anything to counter those centrifugal forces1 See for example Great book for those A fun little look into American English and it's many dialects This book is great for those without much background in linguistics The book started by discussing the various regional English accents or dialects When it stayed on the topic of regionalism the book seemed to be on some solid foundations though claims were made how Midwestern english is shifting vowel sounds Living here in the miidle of it all I do not hear itAn interesting discussion on Black English indicated that black English has diverged from American English as time progresses rather than less as was previously thought Even interesting is there is no regionalism in black english It is the same in the south the midwest and both coastsDiscussions on Spanish completely ignored the political ramification of the reconuistadores and the discussion about language by political communities seemed to make every effort to ignore the Newspeak nature of the matterI was hoping to get Mencken's history of the language but it turned out to be the NY Times view of the world This book is a great study on the language of Americans and how it changes in relation to the nation's history and cultural values It answered some uestions I had about the language such as why some American dialects are rhotic while others are not and brought up some ideas that I hadn't thought about Most interesting was the section about how some non standard American dialects for example African American Vernacular English are treated by many as incorrect or lazy English and how that affects the people who grow up speaking those dialects Reading this has helped me to open my eyes about how language should be treated and taught in America in a way that encourages people to learn how to communicate with the standard dialect which is to their own benefit and that of others without making them feel inferior for speaking differently at home Although it was written in 2005 Do You Speak American? is still young enough to be relevant It is an excellent layman's introduction to the variety of language and dialect that permeates the United States What people say how they say it and how others perceive them for doing so are all covered The tendency of mainstream America to look down upon the speech of African Americans immigrants and other minorities is exploredSo called grammar Nazis will likely bristle at the contents of these pages One can only hope it might purge such tendencies from a few of them I was assigned to read this for a sociolinguistics class but it's super interestingpeople who don't do the linguist thing would also be interested to read about the development of our language in the US Besides grappling with the uestion what exactly is American English is a dialect or is it a language? It covers aspects of our speech such as Black English Chicano English and Regional Accents and dialectsAND it does it in a way that is easy to read and fun
- 240 pages
- Do You Speak American?
- Robert MacNeil
- 10 January 2015 Robert MacNeil