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Blair and American English watch

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    This whole thing horrified me.

    In the Times today had an article about how Tony Blair said "Period" instead of "Full Stop", to make things worse he said "Kids" instead of "Children" in Parliament!

    I blushed and had a sudden stomache cramp.

    I was horrified to think that there are people wondering around the same streets as me who are counting up all the occasional breaches of the Holy American-British English Divide, with employers prepared to donate half a page of their previously high-quality broadsheet in order to tell the whole nation.

    Jeez.. I'v heard of page filler, but even ambulance chaser adverts are less of a vacuous waste of my paper than this drivel.
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    (Original post by Weejimmie)
    However, the most interesting thing about this remark of Tony Blair's is what it shows about Tone's psychology rather than the state of the english language.
    I agree. This thread seems to blown the issue out of proportion. Blair's word choice may have been uncharacteristic in Britain, but that doesn't make it inappropriate usage. I certainly would hope that we all haven't become so narrowminded about language that we cannot appreciate an obscure substitute here and there. Until Blair starts replacing "full stop" with "a'ight," I see nothing to worry about.
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    I say "Period" all the time. I don't spend my nights flicking betwen ER and Friends episodes, I just think it sounds better.

    I think one of the yuckiest words in real English is "Armoury"; I'll stick with "Armory" thanks. (Not Color though, that feels too small for such an important word)
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    (Original post by Iz the Wiz)
    Oh come on, Bismarck, it's annoying as hell when Americans affect British vocabulary. If I hear one more idiot Hollywood actor talk about where he went "to university," instead of where he went to college (which is where normal Americans go), I'll puke.
    Well, it depends where the actor is giving the interview. I know that I personally do not refer to myself at "going to university" when talking to Americans, but I modify my speech to ease confusion on this forum, as I got sick of people making judgments about my intellect and social status, if they failed to notice that I am American.
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    (Original post by Iz the Wiz)
    Yes, Sam, there are definitely Seattle, Philly, and Maine accents.

    Bismarck: You're maybe the most argumentative person I've ever seen! No one "changes" languages; people in England certainly can't go back to speaking Middle English; a language is alive and cannot help but develop (even when active steps are taken to prevent this as in France). But still, people can object to the loss (or threat of loss) of a region's uniqueness, even try to do somthing to preserve it.

    Doesn't it bother you that you hardly ever hear the New York accent anymore, and everyone increasingly talks like the cast of Friends?
    I think that's the perfect example of the generic American accent. Foreign people like the show so much because it's so easy to understand and you don't have some weird Boomhauer character (ok that's a bad example, noone understands him in King of the Hill).

    Just out of curiosity, are those accents that distinct? I've heard people go as far as saying that Canadians "don't have an accent" (you know how young people refer to the lack of difference with their own accent as having no accent)
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    (Original post by psychic_satori)
    Well, it depends where the actor is giving the interview.
    I'm talking about things like on the Letterman show.

    BTW, I saw a tampon ad yesterday that ended with the slogan, "Kotex fits. Period." I had to laugh.
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    (Original post by psychic_satori)
    Well, it depends where the actor is giving the interview. I know that I personally do not refer to myself at "going to university" when talking to Americans, but I modify my speech to ease confusion on this forum, as I got sick of people making judgments about my intellect and social status, if they failed to notice that I am American.
    Certainly confuses me, because here you don't 'graduate' until end of university, so the whole college graduate or high school graduate thing throws me off.

    the one word that always makes me shudder (more because of the tools that tend to use it) is 'disrespect'
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    I think that's the perfect example of the generic American accent. Foreign people like the show so much because it's so easy to understand and you don't have some weird Boomhauer character (ok that's a bad example, noone understands him in King of the Hill).

    Just out of curiosity, are those accents that distinct? I've heard people go as far as saying that Canadians "don't have an accent" (you know how young people refer to the lack of difference with their own accent as having no accent)
    I really don't have an accent, but thats because of where I'm from - the birthplace of the modern english language - queens english if you will
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Do you people have something you call a Seattle accent or a Philadelphia accent or a Maine accent?
    Seattle and Philly do, certainly. I don't know about Maine specifically as an accent, but they sound more Canadian (rounder O's and some over enunciation on words that end with 't') than someone from Massachusetts would. Philadelphia is a horrible accent that should be banished from the earth (Not just because I abhor the place)--mixes the worst things about the New Jersey and Baltimore/D.C. accents.
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    (Original post by JonD)
    I say "Period" all the time. I don't spend my nights flicking betwen ER and Friends episodes, I just think it sounds better.
    :rolleyes: You're one of those?

    and I was ashamed for pronouncing the greek letter beta as "beyta" intstead of "beeta" after going to a Canadian Uni...

    and all these Americans (such as you psychic_sartori...) who are taking offense from this thread, it's not an attack on American English. You guys use English because that's the language spoken around you. It's not something that is intertwined with your culture (at least not officially). Most people seem quite unphased by the increase of Spanish usage.
    We're very tolerant in the UK but English is our language (at least for the vast majority). It's the official language and it can't be separated from our culture, from our country. It defines who we are. Obviously, you're not going to see things the way we do. In this country, Scots use their own variant of English, Scots (in addition to other languages like Gaelic), Geordies from Newcastle have their own expressions: it's part of their culture. If Blair started using Scots, a lot of Scottish people would start saying "who does this **** think he is?" because he's mimicking a culture that isn't his own.
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    I think that's the perfect example of the generic American accent. Foreign people like the show so much because it's so easy to understand and you don't have some weird Boomhauer character (ok that's a bad example, noone understands him in King of the Hill).

    Just out of curiosity, are those accents that distinct? I've heard people go as far as saying that Canadians "don't have an accent" (you know how young people refer to the lack of difference with their own accent as having no accent)
    Yeah, Canadians have an accent, it's kind of similar to the Seattle/Northwest accent. (But they don't know they have it. They sound half Scandinavian.) The Northeast accents are hard to distinguish from each other until you get used to them. There are 2 Boston accents: a rich one and a working-class one, very different. There are at least 4 New York City accents, all different. But these seems to be getting stamped out, along with local businesses being stamped out and replaced with the endlessly replicating Starbucks-Gap-Barnes & Noble molecule ... Some people feel this is "unimportant" but I don't. (There's even a new dictionary entry---"Generica"---that's a name for the growing trend of things being the same, no matter where you go.)

    Yes there is a "generic" American accent, & it is pretty much a Californian/Western way of speaking.
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Just out of curiosity, are those accents that distinct? I've heard people go as far as saying that Canadians "don't have an accent" (you know how young people refer to the lack of difference with their own accent as having no accent)
    Canadians have an accent--it's easily noticed.
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    (Original post by psychic_satori)
    Seattle and Philly do, certainly. I don't know about Maine specifically as an accent, but they sound more Canadian (rounder O's and some over enunciation on words that end with 't') than someone from Massachusetts would. Philadelphia is a horrible accent that should be banished from the earth (Not just because I abhor the place)--mixes the worst things about the New Jersey and Baltimore/D.C. accents.
    but do most young people realise that these accents exist? Surely these accents are not considered as strong accents? It always seemed to me that apart from the Midwest, Bostonian, New Yorker, Californian, Texan and Southern accents, most people considered other accents as being almost the same.

    and I haven't got a clue about this Pittsburgh accent your refer to :confused:
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    (Original post by Iz the Wiz)
    I'm talking about things like on the Letterman show.

    BTW, I saw a tampon ad yesterday that ended with the slogan, "Kotex fits. Period." I had to laugh.
    Oh, well, then the actor was just a pompous ass. Not a shocker, though.
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    (Original post by psychic_satori)
    Canadians have an accent--it's easily noticed.
    Yep, even I notice it and it goes further than the pronunciation of "about"... but I met a lot of young Canadians, some of whom would claim they had no accent (meaning they sounded like any other average North American). Obviously as a kid, most people don't quite get the concept of accent and don't realise that everyone has one.
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    If Blair started using Scots, a lot of Scottish people would start saying "who does this **** think he is?" because he's mimicking a culture that isn't his own.
    He is Scottish
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    and all these Americans (such as you psychic_sartori...) who are taking offense from this thread,
    :confused: I'm taking offense? I just thought the uproar was a little unnecessary considering the scope of Blair's offending word choice. I never claimed to find this an assault on American English. It takes quite a bit more than that to get my Irish up.
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    (Original post by Iz the Wiz)
    Yeah, Canadians have an accent, it's kind of similar to the Seattle/Northwest accent. (But they don't know they have it. They sound half Scandinavian.) The Northeast accents are hard to distinguish from each other until you get used to them. There are 2 Boston accents: a rich one and a working-class one, very different. There are at least 4 New York City accents, all different. But these seems to be getting stamped out, along with local businesses being stamped out and replaced with the endlessly replicating Starbucks-Gap-Barnes & Noble molecule ... Some people feel this is "unimportant" but I don't. (There's even a new dictionary entry---"Generica"---that's a name for the growing trend of things being the same, no matter where you go.)

    Yes there is a "generic" American accent, & it is pretty much a Californian/Western way of speaking.
    Isn't the North Eastern accent (bar the Bostonian and NY accents) part of the generic accent?

    I think you will notice that Scandinavian influence is heard in states like Minnesota. In Canada, it's essentially, the strong percentage of Scots and to a lesser degree Irish that explain why the accent is so different. It becomes extreme when you get to Newfoundland (but there it's especially the Irish influence). The composition of the first English speakers in the US was quite different... which explains why it's different to the Canadian. Later immigrants influenced the accents somewhat: Irish in Boston to make that working-class accent you refer to and for example Swedes in Minnesota.
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    (Original post by TheVlad)
    He is Scottish
    I know but he doesn't speak Scots, doesn't live in Scotland and wouldn't be considered as representative of the typical Scot. My bad... (the number of americanisms is shocking...)
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    (Original post by SamTheMan)
    Isn't the North Eastern accent (bar the Bostonian and NY accents) part of the generic accent?

    I think you will notice that Scandinavian influence is heard in states like Minnesota. In Canada, it's essentially, the strong percentage of Scots and to a lesser degree Irish that explain why the accent is so different. It becomes extreme when you get to Newfoundland (but there it's especially the Irish influence). The composition of the first English speakers in the US was quite different... which explains why it's different to the Canadian. Later immigrants influenced the accents somewhat: Irish in Boston to make that working-class accent you refer to and for example Swedes in Minnesota.
    Yeah, it's funny because also, the New Orleans city accent is famous for sounding just like New York, even though it's way down south. And the reason is that the immigrants to both cities came from almost the same parts of Europe.

    I know Canadians are mostly Scottish, so I don't understand why their accent sounds like NWers', who are heavily Norwegian. But that's how it strikes my ears.

    I guess maybe the East Coast accent is generic. You either speak with a city accent or you speak generically.
 
 
 
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