Regional Linguistics

Discussion in 'Linguistics' started by keith1, Jun 29, 2012.

  1. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    This isn't the US, just because you insist on us using your civilian ports doesn't mean your rules apply here.

    I'm as French as I am Maori, and I'm more Scottish than I am anything else. The 'one drop' rule doesn't apply here, and I don't identify with my Maori ancestry any more than I do my French ancestry.

    But this isn't actually a conversation I'm interested in having with you, at all.
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2012
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  3. Chipz Banned Banned

    'Yanks' as I understand it, is a derogatory term.
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  5. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

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  7. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    Only in the US.
  8. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    We usually say "Yankee." "Yank" is more of a British term. They abbreviate everything.
  9. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I know.
  10. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I've spent enough time around Americans both online, and in real life, and watched enough American TV to understand that:
    1. It's not generally a good idea to call Americans Yank or Yankee.
    2. It's probably going to cause offense unless you happen to be talking to someone from the North Eastern Seaboard.
    3. The proper term is Yankee.

    But then look at the post I was responding to, and understand the hypocrisy that it has illuminated. I'm fairly sure, for example, that many brits would take offense at being refered to as marmalades, and I'm fairly sure that they would take offense at being refered to as limey, or pome.

    But that's what chipz missed when he started with the slinging around words like 'racist'.
  11. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    We're used to it from foreigners. In WWI, the soldiers from Alabama and Tennessee had to get used to being called "Yankees" and "Yanks" by the grateful Europeans. Even in the 1950s I heard a DJ on a country music station play a song about the years after WWII, in which a German girl was referring to all Americans as Yanks. He said, "We have to forgive those folks. They don't know that some of us are still Rebels."
    No. It will offend anyone from an old family in the Confederate states: Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Arkansas, Louisiana and Texas. Anyone from an old family in the core Union States, which is a considerably bigger area than you describe, stretching all the way to Minnesota, will consider it anachronistic but accurate.

    In the rest of the country, for example California, Idaho, Nebraska, etc., you'll run into a few Rebels everywhere, but most American families are either of Yankee stock or founded by people who arrived here after the Civil War was over. There are quite a few people here now whose parents came from elsewhere. They understand "Yankee" to mean merely "American," and they'll probably correct you and say, "No, we're Ukrainians."
    Again, since most of us are more likely to hear the name spoken by a European than one of our own people, we understand that they abbreviate it to "Yank."
    Never heard that one.
    We often refer to their products and culture as "Limey motorcycles," etc., but not so often the people. Many of us know that a Limey is specifically a sailor in the British navy.
    You mean "Pom," with a short O? It's short for "Pommy," a word whose origin appears to be unknown. I can't find "pome" with that meaning anywhere.
  12. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member

    I'll have to see if I can find it on YouTube, but there was one New Zealand comedian that rhyming slanged Yanks and Sceptic Tanks. Of course, you have to remember that this was (IIRC) shortly after the US blew us off over the Rainbow Warrior, siding with France, and the whole ANZUS 'no nukes' debacle.

    I actually knew that. I don't know where my brains were. Less haste, more speed.

    It's said with a short O, but it's spelt with an E, not a Y.

    P.O.M.E - Prisoner Of Mother England.

    Why are British people called poms?
    I was taught thst it comes from the initials 'POHM' stamped on clothing and equipment used by English convicts. It meant Prisoner Of His/Her Majesty and marked out felons transported to Australia.

    A slight adaptation to answers listed above, I was reliably informed by several aussies on my travels that a 'POME' is a Prisoner of Mother England, an abreviation created by the convicts sent out to Australia from England.

    it's an abbreviation of pomegranate, referring to the colour that the pasty Englishmen turned in the antipodean sun when they spilled out of the ships for the first time.

    Alternative Names for the British: Pommy on Wikipedia

    The term Pommie therefore does not relate exclusively to England; it applies equally to those from Wales, Northern Ireland and Scotland. It is a term often confused by Australians who have difficulty in noting the synonymity of the four UK nations. A likely[citation needed] explanation is 'Prisoner of the Mother Country'...

    Anyway, rightly or wrongly I was told by my father (and his father) that the term 'pom' or 'pommy' meant 'Prisoner of Mother England'. So I've always spelt it POME or POMME.
  13. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member


    Is this true UK people? I always thought it was a neutral when I call an Australian an "Aussie"'s just a shortened term of endearment, with no negative connotation.
  14. MacGyver1968 Fixin' Shit that Ain't Broke Valued Senior Member

    Since we are bringing up terms for people that may or may not be derogatory. The term "Cracker" to describe white people has long been used by the African-American community as a negative term. I always thought it had to do with saltine crackers being white. I recently found out that cattlemen and cowboys in Florida go by the term "cracker"..based on their use of the whip with cattle....crack the whip....and it's not at all a negative term...but one that is cherished. Go figure.
  15. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    Sure. Cockney rhyming slang is still an active word-generator. In accordance with the algorithm, it was truncated to "septic," and has now been shortened further to "seppo."
    It's usually easy to find them in a man: a few inches below the belt buckle.

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    Wikipedia is not considered a reliable source. For example, no instructor allows it as a reference in classwork. I've written Wikipedia articles, is that scary enough?

    Please Register or Log in to view the hidden image! is a compendium of all the most highly-respected dictionaries in the USA (meaning, for example, that it includes any British or other anglophone slang that we might encounter in movies, song lyrics, etc.), and it insists that the origin of this word is unknown. It also insists that the correct spelling is Pom, Pommy, pom, or pommy.
    Another whimsical etymology, and BTW even your description of usage is wrong.

    A "cracker" was originally a person from the state of Georgia, with no derogatory connotation and often spelled with a capital C. You still hear the term "Georgia Cracker." It goes back at least to the 1760s and comes from a medieval English word meaning, among other things, "braggart." Since then it has been extended to poor, rural people in the other former Confederate states.

    Euro-Americans in the rest of the country are not crackers. In fact many of us look down on "crackers," "rebels," "rednecks," "hillbillies," and the rest of their slang ethnonyms, as much as Afro-Americans do.

    In order to be taken for a Cracker, you must, at a minimum, speak with a Southern accent. I affect one when I sing country music, innerducin' mahseff as an ole Airzonuh cah-bowie, but I'm careful not to talk like that.

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    The American Civil War killed something like three percent of the combined nation's population, making it one of the bloodiest wars in human history. Seven generations later, that wound has still not healed. Go into any bar in the eleven states that formed the Confederacy and pull out one of the staples on the giant American flag behind the bandstand. You'll find the giant Confederate flag that was there on 9/10. They didn't even bother to take it down: "Hang onto your Confederate money, boys. The South will rise again!"
  16. Trippy ALEA IACTA EST Staff Member


    But wikipedia wasn't the only source I provided, nor was the wikipedia article pivotal to my assertions. Equally I didn't exactly elaborate on why I spelled it Pome - although I did allude to the answer, and the explanation is supported by both the wikipedia article, and the alternate source I provided.
  17. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Following is from another thread (where we were getting well off subject):
    I seldom see Portuguese for a male saying "thank you" in print. In the Sao Paulo area, the < r > of English is very rare. It is usually the sound of < h> especially if written word starts with R. For example when my wife say word written Rio it is: < Hio>. In Rio, where her sister lives, they do pronounce the < r> and some even with the "trill"

    I wrote with a "l" as I have been hearing word obrigado with < l> sound, but wife just told me that is my hearing error. She hardly makes any sound, or just a hint of < h> when saying that word. There is a great variation in how words are said just between Rio and Sao Paulo, and I can´t understand any of the speech spoken by people from the North of Brazil - that is even hard for my Sao Paulo to do.
  18. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    R is one of the strangest phonemes, with wide variations in pronunciation from one language to another. The American English R is almost unique among the world's languages. I have yet to encounter another language with an R like ours, but I'm sure there are a few. Most languages use a flap, as in Spanish, Iberian Portuguese, Italian, most other southern and eastern European languages, and Japanese, to name a few. Most British accents use this phoneme as well. For you American members, it's the sound of the D in our pronunciation of "leader" and the T of "liter," which are homonyms in our country, but not in most of the U.K.

    The Germans and Scandinavians make a liquid sound with their tongue approximately in the position to say G or K, or in some accents all the way back in the throat to make a gargling sound. The Franks were a German people, so even though they adopted Latin they kept the German R so in Paris you still hear the gargled R, whereas in Southern France where the Gauls lived, a Celtic people, you hear the more common flapped R. I don't know where the American R came from; our accent is generally an amalgam of rural 16th century English, Dutch and Scots-Irish.

    In Brazilian coastal cities the R is often an exaggerated French R, sort of the CH of German mach or the KH of Russian Mikhail, but voiced instead of voiceless. Americans often compare it to an English H because its the only sound in our language that comes close, but I think French R or Russian KH is a better analog.

    I have no idea where this came from. The difference between Iberian and Brazilian Portuguese is striking; much greater than the difference between Iberian and New World Spanish. The numbers 7, 8, 9, 10, written sete, oito, nove, dez, are pronounced in Lisbon SET, OYT, NAWV, DES, whereas in many Brazilian accents they're SEH-chee, OY-too, NAW-vee, DESH.
  19. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    I can usually understand these when told a price etc. but distinguishing between spoken in Sao Paulo area 60 & 70 is hard for me, but not for my wife, so there is a difference I just don´t hear.

    I happen to know that common speech is one continuous sound stream. (For example an unbroken squiggle line when displayed on an oscilloscope.) We use a constructive process to parse it into separated words. I.e. what we hear is to a large extent our own creation (tracking the stimulus sound stream of course). Once we have it parsed, then we further process to identify the words, and consult our mental "lexicon" where a great deal of information about them is stored under the index of word´s key - it basic root. Things like verb "hit" is transitive but "swim" is not and that only "hit" (not "swim") can be a noun or part of adjective phrase as in: "That was his fifth base hit in the game." OR "The girl, hit by the car, was not hurt."

    Initially as a child, when we are building our native tongue’s lexicon, there are no verb tenses stored in the lexicon - instead we learn rules for forming them. (For example, add "ed" for the past tense in English. Or in Portuguese verb ends in "o" if male is speaking and "a" if female is speaking.) We use these rules and never store the various tenses etc. of most verbs, but the non-regular past tenses, etc. do get added to our lexicon later - why young speakers will regularize a non-regular verb´s past tense. I.e. "Yesterday Bobby falled while playing ball." Or three year old Jane swimed the full length of the pool." ("Fell" & "swam" are later additions to the lexicon added under the indexing pointer roots, fall & swim.) Search time studies show that nouns enter the lexicon in hierarchal group levels.

    I.e. to get to "robin", you must first activate the "animal level" then the "bird level" to find information about "robin", which is near head of the bird list, well before you get information about "penguin." This is also sadly confirmed in some narrow brain damage cases. People exist who cannot name a carrot when given one or even any other vegetable, but know it is a food, perhaps that it grows under ground, etc. when handed one and may be able to name apples or grapes as they are stored in the "fruit subdivision" of the lexicon.

    What roll(s) a word may play in a sentence (noun, verb, adjective etc.) is all stored in the lexicon too. As the sentence comes, you carry all possible constructions consistent with these lexicon rules and the language information keyed to the parsed words. This gets to be a great number of possibilities so you must discard some of the less likely possibilities as more of the sentence has been heard and parsed. Hence there are (or at least can be constructed) "garden path" sentences. I.e. sentence that are hard to understand when you have heard and parse it all, because your understanding process was "lead down the garden path" and erroneously discarded the only possible understanding of the sentence that exists when you have heard it all. For an example (It helps if you silently say the sentence as you read it - I cannot be saying it to/for you - so please you do that for me as if you were hearing me say the sentence):

    The fast horse raced past the red barn fell.

    By the time you have mentally processed all the words thru "barn" you have the reached (settled on) the unique interpretation: "The fast horse raced past the red barn." but then comes the totally useless word "fell" with no role to play in that sentence. Problem is that of the various roles "raced" could play, you prematurely and erroneously discarded all but as the sentences´s verb, discarding even the sentence´s only possible usage of "raced"; in this sentence "fell" is the verb and "raced past the barn" is just an adjective phrase, telling which horse fell.

    All this processing is automatic and unconscious as the "dichotic listening" experiments show. (Two different stories, sentence streams, played via headphones to your two ears and you have been told to concentrate on one, say the story being told by the woman´s voice (not the man´s story). Even though you are not consciously following what the man is telling, you are automatically fully processing his words. I.e. parsing his sound stream into words, checking your lexicon for what roles they can play in some sentences, generating a few possible sentences as the sound stream progresses and finally narrowing those possible sentences down to just one unique sentence and then unconsciously understanding the meaning of the sentence. - All without the slightest consciousness of doing any of this.

    Here is how that has been established:

    At one point in the woman´s story she says: " .... Latter that evening, the boys amused them selves by throwing stones at the bank. Then growing tired of this, they decided to go to a movie where they could get some popcorn...."

    In the unattended story the man is telling, the ambiguous word "bank" also is spoken a little before the woman says it. In the man´s story there is no ambiguity due to the context.

    For example he might say: "One of the fishing boys lost his balance and slid down the bank all the way into to water."
    "The robbers just barely got out of the bank and into their car when the police arrived."

    How you understand what the woman´s boys were throwing stones at to amuse themselves will almost always be based on which of the unattended stories the man was telling.

    I.e. your ONLY lexicon was activated by the man´s story and the word in it ("bank") with its unambiguous meaning for the man´s sentence (place for money or side of river) was retrieved for construction of that unique interpretation of "bank." When your conscious processing of the woman´s sentence goes into the single lexicon you have, that activity has not "died out" and what you pull from the lexicon for the meaning of "bank" is very strongly biased to be the same as the unambiguous meaning in the man´s story. I.e. the brain was fully processing and constructing BOTH sound stream, all the way up to the meaning of their sentences, but your consciousness is aware of only one.

    If the man´s story had had an important word in it, such as your name or other item of great latent interest to you such as the stock you were thinking of buying, then that sound stream will "break thru" to your consciousness. This is some times called the cocktail party effect and it too shows you can unconsciously simultaneously process even more than two sound streams to a high level of sentence construction and understanding.

    Consciousness is a single channel bottle neck the very capable parallel processing brain´s work must pass thru. I suspect a major reason consciousness exists is due to fact we can only do one or many possible actions. A selection must take place. - Consciousness makes that selection.

    I think this is the basis for "subliminal advertizing" and that this huge amount of unconscious processing takes place with visual images as well. There are even "garden path" visual images too! I.e. you first see/ understand some retinal stimulation as object "A" and later realize it is object "B." In many well know examples, continuous viewing of a picture, will produce a sequence of alternating interpretations between "A" & "B." I think this is much like color after effects (See blue spot on white wall after long gaze at a yellow spot, etc.) I.e. the neurons yielding interpretation "A" become fatigued and then interpretation "B" is stronger, for a while, as no longer discharging "A neurons" recover their discharge capacity and B´s neurons begin to tire.

    Fraggle knows an enormous amount about languages, as that is his interest and I know a little about how language is even possible within human brains as that is my interest.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2012
  20. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    The only Portuguese we're likely to hear in the USA is Brazilian pop songs. AFAIK most of the ones we get are produced in Rio de Janeiro and therefore have the carioca accent. Sete and cidade become SEH-chee and see-DAH-jee. Final S adapts to the following syllable: in os sentimentos it's "oos", in os olhos it's "ooz"; in os cariocas it's "oosh"; in as mães it's "azh." TI and DI are pronounced CHEE and JEE.

    At one time a San Francisco radio station broadcast occasional news and talk programs in Iberian Portuguese, because there is a Portuguese community in northwestern California. It took me quite a while to adapt to the accent and begin understanding bits and pieces of it. In Iberian dialect, final E and O are silent. Even before a plural ending: cabos is pronounced KABZ.
    I think you mean adjectives, not verbs.
    Eventually the strong verb inflections become so familiar that we impose them when they're not there: In rural areas it's common to hear "snuck" for "sneaked", and "dove" for "dived" has become almost acceptable in proper speech. (Strong verbs are a Proto-Germanic paradigm which has decayed in English but still exists. Instead of the past tense and past participle having the same form, which is the infinitive plus -D or -T, they are two distinct forms, formed by umlauting the vowel and often adding an N in the participle: eat/ate/eaten, sing/sang/sung, see/saw/seen, write/wrote/written.)
    The boyfriend of a friend of mine is dyslexic so she's had ten years to learn about the disorder. Contrary to popular belief, it is not limited to reading, or even primarily about reading. When you show a dyslexic child the word "dog," yes he may say "god," but he's more likely to say "puppy" or "pooch" or even "cat." It's a communication disorder that affects conversation as much as reading and writing. Using your model, it appears to be a breakdown of the level-navigation process.
    This illustrates the fact that spoken language and written language use two slightly different sets of skills. If you said that sentence to me in conversation, you would insert slight pauses and subtle tonal inflections that would guide me to the correct interpretation. Whereas in edited writing, you would simply have to go back and re-word it to eliminate the ambiguity.
    Actually, subliminal advertising is just as effective with written words as with non-verbal images. At least in the Western countries, reading is a skill that is over-learned. In fact, because of this, it is one of the last skills to be lost as we age and our brains fail. It's common for people who suffer strokes and can't talk to still be able to write perfectly.

    A landmark advance in the care of Alzheimer's patients was discovered a couple of years ago. They may forget something you say orally within a few minutes, and certainly before the next time you visit them. But if you write it down and hand them the paper, they may remember it. One lady drove her father to the doctor every Wednesday and throughout the entire trip he kept asking, "Where are we going?" no matter how often she answered. Then the next week, the first time he asked, she handed him a slip of paper saying, "We're going to see Dr. Jones on 19th Street. He's been your doctor for 47 years." He remained silent and contented for a long time, and suddenly said, "It will be great to see Dr. Jones again. He's always been so nice to us."

    I have launched a personal campaign to share this with everyone. Some day you'll know someone with Alzheimer's and I hope you'll remember this wonderful way to break through to them. It will enrich both of your lives.
    Thanks for the compliment but I'm no expert, just an enthusiast. You know quite a bit yourself.
  21. Billy T Use Sugar Cane Alcohol car Fuel Valued Senior Member

    Well I and other males say obrigago and wife and other females say obrigoda. I´m almost sure that is done for all (or almost all) first person, singular, present tense verbs.

    I have never systematically studied Portuguese. I just picked some up. I have large hearing vocabulary. - Sometimes when wife has word on tip of her tongue but is not able to say it, she asks me (in English) for the Portuguese word! but when speaking my pronunciation is so bad many don´t understand me.

    An interesting side of effect of "pick up learning" Portuguese as I have, is that I don´t translate my thoughts from English formulations of them. - Words just flow out of my mouth and I have no idea which words they will be until I hear them!* My Portuguese lexicon, though large for recognition is very primitive / underdeveloped for speaking. It does not know how to automatically conjugate or form tenses well. I tend to over use the infinitives so if I want person I am speaking to to have a change to know I´m speaking of something that has already happened, I stick in (nearly automatically) "ontem..." (yesterday)**. I think my Portuguese lexicon is mainly just the indexing stems of words, tied to their meaning.

    *Words are just intermediaries for exchange of thoughts. For example if you are told a story about how fortunate the ship was in making it thru the narrow rocky straight during the storm, how all the crew shifted their weight to side needed, etc. with may other details and then later you are asked if you had heard: "The captain used his great skill and experience to (control, guide, steer or even "hold the course") between the threatening rocks." you will not be able to very accurately recall the exact words that were used to convey that idea. Not often, but some times I will be watching a TV show for 10 or 15 seconds before I realize it is in Portuguese, not English. People fluent in two languages can retell a whole TV show they watched and hour or so earlier, in considerable detail, but not be sure which language it was in.

    ** or "ultima semana" (last week) etc.

    And yes, if we want a person to correctly understand a "garden path" sentence (which we rarely do) we help with pauses, etc in speech or punctuation when written. They mainly exist, I think, to help make the point I was making - namely an enormous amount of unconscious parallel processing and information extraction from the lexicon is taking place whenever we hear some one speak our native language, but not of course when it is an unknown language. Then it is just a continuous stream of un-parsed sound.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 7, 2012
  22. Fraggle Rocker Staff Member

    That's because you're using the past participle of the verb as an adjective. Obrigado is simply a short way of saying eu estou obrigado, "I am obligated." We don't think of it that way in English because we don't have to: our adjectives are not inflected, and we don't inflect for gender anyway. Nonetheless, if you say "I went to the store but I got there too late and it was closed," you're really thinking of "closed" as an adjective, not a verb. It's no different in usage from "it was open" or "it was big." When we say "ground beef," the irregular inflection fails to alert our participle-detectors so we don't even realize that "ground" is the past participle of "grind." We unconsciously assume that it's an adjective just like "lean beef."

    When we say "recorded music" or "colored glass" or "decaffeinated coffee," we're using those participles as adjectives. Their translations in Portuguese and the other Romance languages (not to mention the Germanic and Slavic languages and zillions of others) will have the form of past participles, but they will also be inflected as adjectives. (I'll lapse back into Spanish because I'm outrunning my meager familiarity with Portuguese but you'll surely recognize the words.) Música recordada, vidrio colorado, café descafeinado.

    You would do the same thing in first, second or third person, singular or plural. Tu estás cubierta de lodo. Nosotros estamos cubiertos de lodo. Las gallinas están cubiertas de lodo. You are covered with mud--singular, feminine (assuming I'm talking to a female). We are covered with mud--plural, masculine (assuming that at least one of "us" is male). The hens are covered with mud--plural, feminine. Cubierto "covered" is the past participle of cubrir "cover."

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