How We Talk: American Regional English Today

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9780618043620: How We Talk: American Regional English Today

Where are you when people go to the coast instead of the beach tote things as well as carry them wait on line instead of in line get groceries in a paper sack instead of a paper bag say things like The baby needs picked up” and The car needs washed” eat solid rectangular doughnuts that are also called beignets complain when something is spendy ( costly”) are chilled by a blue norther ask for tonic instead of soda go dahntahn” to shop.

Allan Metcalf answers these and many other fascinating questions in his new book, How We Talk: American Regional English Today. In short, delightful essays, Metcalf explains the key features that make American speech so expressive and distinct. He begins in the South, home of the most easily recognized of American dialects, and travels north to New England, then on to the Midwest and the far West, even to Alaska and Hawaii. It’s all here: the northern Midwest Fargo” accent, Louisiana Cajun and New Orleans Yat, dropped r’s as in Boston’s Hahvahd Yahd,” and intrusive r’s as in Warshington,” especially common in America’s midlands. With additional chapters on ethnic dialects and dialects in the movies, Metcalf reveals the resplendence of one our nation’s greatest natural resources its endless and varied talk.

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About the Author:

Allan Metcalf is a professor of English at MacMurray College, executive secretary of the American Dialect Society, and author of books on language and writing. His books on language include AMERICA IN SO MANY WORDS (with David K. Barnhart), THE WORLD IN SO MANY WORDS, HOW WE TALK: AMERICAN REGIONAL ENGLISH TODAY, PREDICTING NEW WORDS, and PRESIDENTIAL VOICES. His books on writing include RESEARCH TO THE POINT and ESSENTIALS OF WRITING TO THE POINT. He lives in Jacksonville, Illinois.

From Booklist:

MacMurray College English professor Metcalf offers a useful, if somewhat dry, exploration of the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in the way Americans speak the same language. Although Metcalf is not an especially lively writer, he packs his book chock-full of fascinating information. He discusses the origins of American regional dialects and explains why different parts of the country use different words to mean the same things (carry versus tote, for example) or why the same words are pronounced differently in the South as opposed to the North. For fiction writers hoping to create authentic-sounding dialogue, this book could function as an indispensable guide: Metcalf explains such nuances as the southern tendency to say ink pen, rather than simply pen, because the southern pronunciation of the word is virtually indistinguishable from pin. For anyone looking for an authoritative technical examination of American English, Metcalf's tome will fill the bill admirably. David Pitt
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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