Tuesday, February 01, 2005

For the linguistically inclined: 'Strine younger than thought.

Even in the '80s Aussies were still saying "be-ah" (and saying it a lot, if I remember correctly. Which I do.)

Funny; just this morning I was thinking that Aussie/Kiwi and even South African accents and cultural referents seem a lot more Englishy than American ones do, and wondering when the various sociolinguistic splits occurred.

Also I recently remembered a Norwegian friend's years-ago conjecture that the notorious American "arrr" (r) came from Irish immigrants, after we watched some movie with Irish people in it. Made sense to me at the time, though I don't know much linguistic history. (Linguistory?)


The Limey said...

That's Awrrrresome! (as you Yanks say)

brainhell said...

I think I recall hearing that the Puritan came from a part of England where the accent is pretty flat. Then, once they got here, it kept getting flatter.

Eric said...

I hate my American R. I can't get rid of it.

argotnaut said...

Funny you should mention it, because I've just been reading a lot about r-fulness and r-lessness.

From _American English: Dialects and Variation_ (Wolfram and Schilling-Estes):

Contrary to popular perceptions, the speech of the Jamestown colonists more closely resembled today's American English than today's standard British speech, since British English has undergone a number of innovations which did not spread to once-remote America.

Me again...the Ulster Scots (our >,>,>,>,>,>, ancestor) definitely brought r-fulness with them and had a great deal of influence on speech here. But the British English we started out with was actually r-ful; r-lessness later gained prestige in Britain.

That's also why we still have some r-lessness on the East Coast -- they had more contact with the mothership and emulated the new r-less prestige dialect.

Incidentally, r-lessness is becoming less prevalent in New York because of the stigma attached to it.

argotnaut said...

And of course, there are a bazillion places where r-fulness and r-lessness came together and duked it out, so don't quote me about any particular area of the U.S. But in general, that's the story as I understand it.

I cAn rEaD said...

Have you seen the PBS special 'Do You Speak American' that was on recently? It's very good.

liz said...

I haven't, but it sounds like something I would like to see.

argotnaut said...

I just realized that I've come to think of you as The Non-Linguistic One (ha)!

argotnaut said...

The PBS thing had some interesting stuff, but a few things were just painful to watch -- like the gray-haired host tossing out teenagerisms.

liz said...

Well, then, I guess that makes you the non-psychologically-minded one! (Also "ha"!)

We're just such brazenly exceptional experts at this point, that even we can't match ourselves! Or... something... like that.

Really, I just think of you as having a database that is broader than mine in that area, which I can now access the interesting bits without having to actually get the degree. Kind of a peripheral drive, as it were.