June 7th, 2008

Origins of accents

Hi everyone - I don't post here too often, but I'm reading Bill Bryson's "The Mother Tongue" about the English language, and I came across something interesting that made me start wondering the same point in other languages. It's in regards to the origins of certain accents:

"Even more interestingly, Labov found that certain vowel sounds were more specific to one ethnic group or another. For instance the tendency to turn "bag" into something more like "be-agg" and "bad" into "be-add" was more frequent among second-generation Italians, while the tendency - and I should stress that it was no more than that - among lower class Jewish speakers was to drawl certain "o" sounds, turning "dog" into "doo-awg," "coffee" into "coo-awfee." The suggestion is that this is a kind of hypercorrection. The speakers are unconsciously trying to distance themselves from their parents' foreign accents. Yiddish speakers tended to have trouble with certain unfamiliar English vowel sounds. they tended to turn "cup of coffee" into "cop of coffee." the presumption is that their children compensated for this by overpronouncing those vowels. Hence the accent."

I find that so interesting...so now I'm curious:

a) have any of you recognized this tendency in real life? If you are the child of immigrants, do you notice it in yourself?

and

b) Has anyone noticed this tendency applied to other languages?
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Love As Thou Wilt

(no subject)

A French question for you:

I'm in the process of translating the musical Notre-Dame de Paris, which is based on the Victor Hugo novel. In one of the songs, there's a line that reads, "Je te mets au pied du mur". I was curious if there were an idiomatic meaning behind it that would translate better into English than "I place you at the foot [bottom?] of the wall".

Another line in the song is "Viens en moi petite ordure", and while I have the word-for-word translation, it doesn't make sense. Can you shed some light on this? Alternately, it makes a bit more sense if it's missing a comma, but I don't really have much of an idea of how to punctuate correctly in French. Another question, then, is what's a good resource for French punctuation?

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llama rain

(no subject)

 I posted a poll a few seconds ago which malfunctioned and I couldn't get it to work on the edit so here it is again new and improved. 

It is for North Americans from the US only please, and i would be very grateful if you could do it. 

Thanks in advance.

Do you spell industrialise or industrialize?

Industrialise
20(9.2%)
Industrialize
197(90.8%)
all your brains

Japanese kanji help

This is quick and dorky. I'm kind of trying to plan a name in Japanese. Various sources show me 下働き is "jackal," but I have no idea how to pin down the reading of the second kanji, especially. The first I recognize as "under," but I'm not sure how to put it all together and read the second one.

Any advice? Is 下働き acceptable, considering I see the katakana ジャッカル as the first definition on most sites?
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