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March 23, 2010

Can You Speak American?

The English language is constantly changing and there are many little "pools" of English speakers with their unique vocabulary.....

....and usage.

For a glimpse at the ever shifting language across the entire continent of North America, take a look at http://www.americandialect.org/.

The editors, The American Dialect Society, are connected with the Midwest Modern Language Association and have a conference November 4-7, 2010 at the Hyatt Regency McCormick Place in Chicago, Illinois.

Among other things, this group picks a choice word that sums up the era. In its 20th annual selection for word of the year, the American Dialect Society voted “tweet” (noun, a short message sent via the Twitter.com service, and verb, the act of sending such a message) as the word of the year for 2009 and “ google” (a generic form of “Google,” meaning “to search the Internet) as its word of the decade.

They don't mention these words in their journal, but my favorite technology derived words are those that comes from Twitter users - "twibe" for those who follow someone's "tweets" and, yet another terms for these followers is "tweeps" - a combination of "peeps" (as in people) and twitter.

As they put it in the website -

“Both words are, in the end, products of the Information Age, where every person has the ability to satisfy curiosity and to broadcast to a select following, both via the Internet.” Barrett said. “I really thought blog would take the honors in the word of the decade category, but more people google than blog, don’t they? Plus, many people think ‘blog’ just sounds ugly."

New slang words are always emerging and conferences and journals like this are an excellent way to keep tabs on the constant changes.

In a related vote, in my neck of the woods, their sister organization, the American Name Society, picked “Salish Sea” as Name of the Year for 2009 in its sixth annual name-of-the-year contest. The Salish Sea is the name for the combined waterways of Washington State's Puget Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and the San Juan Islands on the western coast of the United States and Canada. I live on the southern end of this newly named Salish Sea.

We are all always learning. And we, as well as the world around us, are always changing.

It is always more fun to learn together, so let me know what it is about English that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

Listen, read and speak. Make your new language your own.

My best to you as you make your way through this intriguing , constantly shifting linguistic landscape.


About the author of this entry:

Morf has a B.A.from the Evergreen State College in Olympia, Washington and an MAT (Master's in Teaching English) from the University of Washington (Seattle). Morf prefers international and independent films, foreign foods he can't pronounce, music no one else has heard of and riding his bicycle in foreign cities.

Posted by mmorf at March 23, 2010 10:52 AM

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