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June 11, 2013

USA Word Maps: Who Says What Where

I’ll be the first to admit that I am a total language nerd. I find language to be the most revealing cultural artifact that any of us use. And we all use language in our own way, but, at exactly the same time, we expect others, even complete strangers...

... to understand what we are saying.

It gets even more puzzling the more you think about it.

And, if you have ever tested yourself in the real world of another language, you almost certainly have discovered that there was far more to learn than you might get in a typical classroom.

In any language there is the formal and the informal, the proper and the slang usage.

There is also the regional.

American English is, of course, a sub-group of British English, but even within American English (just as an example) words, phrases, pronunciations and terms might be incomprehensible in different corners of the United States.
Here is a study and a map exploring this idea - http://spark-1590165977.us-west-2.elb.amazonaws.com/jkatz/SurveyMaps/.

Be sure to use the pull-down menu in the upper left corner to see different search words or terms.

Words, like people, follow, travel and move across a landscape. Look at some of the different words and terms and consider how little pockets of language usage came into being.

Language, perhaps like everything else, becomes settled and familiar, but sometimes, when we are not looking, or when we go to a new area, we discover that our language is not as firmly established as we thought it was.

Be sure to send us any language usages or historical nuances that interest you, and be sure to let us know what it is about language learning that you find confounding, infuriating or endlessly intriguing.

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

Morf

Also: for the first time in several years, Morf is available this July and August (and possibly the first half of September) to visit your school or program. You can contact him at mmorf@mail.com. As you can probably guess, Morf can talk or teach about just about anything. ;-)

Posted by mmorf at June 11, 2013 12:08 AM

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