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Cousins

docoflove1974

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A friend on Facebook shared this video...and I was in stitches. Warning, there's a lot of Scottish...perhaps there's foul language, but it's Scottish...but can anyone really tell?

 

 

It reminds me of growing up, and the variety of languages and dialects that I heard. We had in our immediate neighborhood: Irish (from Muenster), Scottish (from Glasgow), Filipino (specifically, Tagalog), Japanese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Hindi. If you expanded it to those I went to school with, you'd have to include the rest of the English-speaking world, half of Polynesia, various dialects of Spanish, at least two regional dialects of Italian, Greek, Armenian, Farsi...wow, the list goes on and on. I grew up hearing so many versions, pronunciations and combinations of English, it's a miracle that I came out with the 'standard West Coast' dialect myself.

 

Thanks to Hollywood, everyone things that California is this liberal utopia (save for Orange County), but in fact the Central Valley is home to many 'country folk'--or redneck, if you're a Jeff Foxworthy fan (

). To be sure, the population there exploded during the Dust Bowl era (the 1930s), and all the Oakies and Arkies settled in the agricultural areas to work the fields, hoping to get a plot of land of their own. This is when my dad's family ran away from their lives in southwestern Missouri--another story for another time--and settled in Sacramento, the capital of the state and, one could say, the northern point of the Central Valley. Between the farms and the military bases, the flow of people from the south-central and south-eastern part of the United States has been fairly constant. As a result, to this day you still hear 'rural' American dialects well-represented. My dad's family isn't immune to this manner of speech.

 

I noted as a child how my dad sounded 'normal' at home and in our area, but the second he was in the company of his sister (the only one of his (at that time) 5 siblings that he liked), he would immediately sound 'country'. And he knew it, so much so that the whole hour-long car ride back home to the Bay Area he would talk a ton just to get the 'country' out of his system.

 

Today we all spent time with that same aunt of mine--one of my cousins passed away unexpectedly, and today was the funeral. Dad's gotten over his linguistic self-consciousness, and didn't even care that he slipped back into his ancient speech pattern. But what I wasn't prepared for was the fact that I did it, too...I started sounding country, just a hint of it, like when I lived in Texas.

 

There is a theory of socio-linguistics that holds that there are people with strong ties to their speech community, and others who have weak ties. Those with strong ties will never lose their speech patterns--their 'accent', if you will--and do not associate with many people outside of their speech community for any length of time. The ones who have weak ties to speech communities are the opposite; much like honey bees, they go to various speech communities, sound a little like all of them, tend to have neutral speech patterns (which helps communicativity in various groups), and are the ones who introduce change to different speech communities. Just like the honey bee that goes from one flower to another to pollinate them all, those with weak links bring various modes of speech to various speech communities, just to see what sticks.

 

Clearly Dad and I are weak links...and not in the Anne Robinson meaning. I can't speak for him, but perhaps that's part of why I never did feel comfortable about that side of the family. Eh, it's all good in the end.



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I wouldn't know what the Youtube video sounds like since it is copyright so blocked in the UK.

 

Regarding the mutability of accents I think it is fairly general that the strength of peoples accents varies both with use and the size of the local community.

 

It is a very rare individual who on returning to their home area or being in close association with their home accent don't find themselves slipping into their old speech patterns. Conversely if you are in another area your accent has to become softer, even if only marginally, so you can be understood by those around you.

 

You may know someone who seems to have a strong accent but if they went back home you may be suprised by how much deeper it became even years after they left home.

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You can get a non-blocked version by searching Scottish and Elevator on YouTube. It's quite funny, especially in light of how our overly accented brethren from north of the border have taken to the iPhone 4S.

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GoC...I can just see Siri throwing fits when a Scottish accent is thrown at her. I know I have my own issues...

 

Melvadius, yes, anecdotal evidence is abundant. But various linguists have proven the pathways of modern language shifts through these 'weak links', and many of us historical linguists apply some of the same techniques to follow the paths of linguistic change over time. It's pretty cool....ok, for me it's pretty cool.

 

<-- language nerd :)

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Being a Language Acquisition person myself, I truly enjoyed this parody. It was a great giggle and laugh aloud.

 

Thanks,

Cinzia :D

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Great stuff Doc! On a side note, I just so happen to know that Siri is quite useless here (oh, well, I actually live in Berlin atm, regardless...) in Sweden - but I'm not sure if it has to do with out barbarian accent or missing programming.

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Wow....GoC...that was awesome! Reminds me of my old neighbor, Mr. MacGreggor. He'd have a tendency to rant on, with people only getting a few words here and there. Mr. Finnerty, the dude from Muenster, Ireland, would understand a few more words, but always would shrug his shoulders like the rest of us, wishing there was some sort of Scottish-English translator near by.

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Now if you wish a Scottish-English translation you could do worse than hunt out Stanley Baxter's Parliamo Glasgow sketches on YouTube.

 

Here's an article from a few years back on the subject and an associated video which may still work.

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On the Cooking Channel here, they often show Jamie Oliver and Gordon Ramsay shows from a few years ago. During the holidays they showed Gordon Ramsay's, which I couldn't stop giggling through. Let's face it, Gordon's lost much of his Glasgowegian ways, but his mother sounded like she was straight out of there (which, from what I gather, she is). Yeah, the dishes they served were interesting...but it was the linguistic patterns that caught my attention!

 

And then there's Mr. Oliver. My mom can't watch him, as she can't understand him. She keeps saying he sounds like he's either drunk or Scottish...which makes me laugh even harder. I will say, if one did a statistical analysis on how many colloquialisms he uses (and makes up...I swear he makes a bunch of them up), I bet it would be higher than your average TV presenter. Then again, it's part of what makes him interesting. BBC America is just now about to start running his special series of going around America...can't wait to watch that, and see how the folks in the Ozarks and in the Deep South react to him lol

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