Friday, June 29, 2007

The American Language (for Starters)

Being somewhat less than energetic (how would you like it if your back ached every time you bent it? or does it already?), I proffer the following rather than discoursing on today's re-reading of Rosalind Krauss on surrealist photography:

Your Linguistic Profile::
70% General American English
15% Yankee
10% Upper Midwestern
0% Dixie
0% Midwestern

I'm not sure where the Yankee part comes in or why I don't score higher on Midwest. After all, I'm from the Midwest and I've never lived in the Northeast. I think they didn't ask about the right words. But try it for yourselves.
Speaking of languages and their oddities, on my jaunts to England it became clear to me that while I generally understand British English, it is unwise to expect to. It was consistently easier to understand EasyJet's Czech announcements than its English versions. I think this was because while there are many dialects of Czech, official announcements are in standard Czech (unless, I suppose, the venue is a folk festival or the like) and clearly enunciated (even if in dialect). The British, on the other hand and not just on EasyJet, seem to figure that public announcements can be made in a manner that suggests the speaker not only does not wish to enunciate but is incapable of doing so and is speaking rapidly to get the whole ordeal over with. About all the listener can make out are standard phrases like "Ladies and Gentleman," whereas in Czech I may not know all the words but the whole thing hangs together so that I get to learn terms for things like seatbelt and tray table (which I have now forgotten but will recognize next time I hear them).

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