All-American Dialects

Richard Lederer’s essay about all of the different dialects all over the United States has really made me think about how many dialects there actually are in America. Each region in the United seems to have different dialects and say things differently. His research has revealed that one word can have a variety of different names from all different dialects. I have probably heard most of the dialects in the United States at least once in my life, whether it be in person or on t.v. However, I have probably heard dialects from the south and the north the most since I live in the south and much of my family lives in New York. I don’t think I have much of a southern accent or dialect at all even though I’ve lived in North Carolina my whole life. And even though I have a lot of close family in New York I don’t find myself or my parents and brother talking with any northern dialect. It’s a little weird to me that I don’t really have any distinguished major dialect but it is still in its own a dialect nonetheless. The quote, “when you learn language, you learn it as a dialect; if you do not speak a dialect, you do not speak”, is very important because it exemplifies the truth that everyone has their own dialect whether they realize it or not.

I found it really interesting that dialects could serve such an important purpose like helping to figure out where an amnesia victim lived based solely on the way the person said “greasy” as “greezy”. Also, the fact that the Unabomber, Kaczynski, used a dialect indicative of Northern California as well as his intelligence, which helped us catch him, made me start to think that dialect is more important than people think. Dialect has a purpose and is more than just a weird way people say things.


21 thoughts on “All-American Dialects

  1. I think its really interesting that you say you do not have any distinguished dialect form living in the south or from family living in the north. I say that because I am originally from the north where I lived most of my life and I had a strong northern accent moving down to North Carolina. However, whenever I talk to my friends from Pennsylvania they always say I sound so different and I now have a southern accent. I find it intriguing because never did I sit down and say “Okay I am going to say “ya’ll” from now on,” and neither did I sit down and say every word differently than I did before. Somehow, my dialect morphed into a little southern accent because of the people I am around all the time. Now emphasizing on your last comment about a dialect being able to catch someone, reminds me of the movie Taken and how the dad finds where the girl is because of his dialect and accent on the phone and is able to pin point which city she is in.

  2. I agree with you completely and I am in your exact same position. My family is also from New York and most of them are still there. My family here often visits there and every time we do, I hear the different ways things are said. I often have different ways of saying words myself like “off,” “water, ”or “walk.” It doesn’t necessarily determine who you are, but it can play a major role in determining where you’re from.

  3. I liked how you further explored the different types of dialect in America. We’re all sometimes so used to the way we each speak that we don’t consider the fact that we’re different. My parents are also from the North but I don’t have a Northern accent or a southern one either. I liked that you used this quote, “when you learn language, you learn it as a dialect; if you do not speak a dialect, you do not speak” because, again, we often times don’t realize that we have out own dialect.

  4. I agree with you and your position completely. In different regions of the country many different words can have the same meaning. The best example I can think of are the words, “soda”, “pop”, and, “coke”; all are used to describe a carbonated beverage, all are different words with the same meaning. Also I agree with quote that when you learn language you learn dialect as well, since with language you learn how to pronounce words.

  5. You made some very good points in your blog. I’m like you and have family from other parts of the country. I don’t have much family up North but I have a lot out West. It is always really interesting to visit them and hear the different dialect. For example in the South when we say we’re having a BBQ we usually mean that there is going to be actual BBQ and sides like cole slaw, beans, potato salad etc. When I am in California and they say they are having a BBQ they mean with food like hot dogs, hamburgers and chips. It is so weird how one word or saying can have a completely different meaning in another part of the country. I also think it is very interesting that dialects can help determine where a person is from.

  6. I personally enjoyed your response to Richard Lederer’s writing about dialects because you did it well; you hit the key points that Lederer did and expounded on them enough to allow each reader of your response to understand your thoughts, but not hide the thoughts of the author’s. The bits and pieces you included from the actual text, such as the “greasy” and “greezy” difference and the amnesia victim whose identity was found through her dialect, aided your overall thoughts towards the writing. Ultimately, I liked the way you related to the text, and I feel a lot of the same ways.

  7. I agree with you about not having a certain dialect. I am from the north I live in the south, but I don’t really have a distinguished accent like most people do. If somebody studied my accent, they would probably label me a northerner because I have more of a northern accent than a southern. I also have family from different parts of the country. My dad’s family lives in Tennessee and my moms family is from Pennsylvania, where I was born. Dialect does play a huge role in the personality of a person. The way somebody talks can say a lot about them.

  8. I agree that each region of the United States has a different dialect and says things differently. I also probably have heard most of the American dialects, whether it be on TV or in person. Souther dialect would be the one I have heard the most because i have lived in North Carolina my whole life. My mom is from the North though, but I rarely ever hear her talk in a Northern dialect. I never talk in a Northern dialect. I think it is cool that people figured out where an amnesia victim lived based on how he said a word.

  9. The quote “when you learn language, you learn it as a dialect; if you do not speak a dialect, you do not speak” really puts all of Richard Lederer’s research and writing into perspective. I find it interesting that you don’t identify as talking like a southerner or like a northerner. I seems you sit somewhere in between. I agree that you do learn a certain dialect when you learn a language and even in cases such as your own, you have some sort of dialect. I found this piece to be very interesting because it was intriguing how you identified yourself.

  10. I know you think you don’t have a dialect but I’m sure that you do. You simply do not notice it because well you speak it. I, on the other hand, was born in Germany and my parents are from the former Yugoslavia. I have been exposed to many different languages and dialects through the years. My family and I have been living in North Carolina for the past 14 years and although my parents still have accents, me and my brother talk in a more southern dialect. I have also experienced different dialects when going to visit my family. My dad’s side of the family is from Bosnia and my mom’s side of the family is from Serbia and although they speak the same language, some of the words are different and the way you pronounce those certain words is different. And I find that when I go visit my family, that I begin to adopt those dialects the longer that I stay with them. So, all in all, I agree with Richard Lederer in that when you learn a language, you learn the dialect and without it you cannot speak.

  11. The United States has been and will always be one of the most diverse nations there is on the planet. We have many inhabitants who come from all across the world, and each carry their own dialect. I don’t have much of any type of accent, but I do pick up on the southern slang that surrounds me. Some people end up picking up their own dialect just from being around it for an extended period of time. The interesting thing about American dialect is that it changes as you travel across the different areas of the country. I agree with you in that I am most familiar with northern and southern dialects, but I have a few friends in California and I have picked up on a few of their sayings and phrases. Language dialect is a very interesting thing, and you could almost say that our country is starting to lose its own with the amount of diversity that exists in our country.

  12. I agree with your response to Lederer’s writing about dialects. I wish I was like you and didn’t have a certain dialect. I don’t like how I have a country tone to my voice at all. My Anthropology professor was explaining how we associate people with very distinct dialects as less smart than those that don’t seem to have a dialect. He also talked about how a lot of news reporters go through voice lessons to change their accents so they can fit any news channel across the nation.

  13. “When you learn language, you learn it as a dialect; if you do not speak a dialect, you do not speak.” After reading the passage and your blog post, I agree with your interpretation of this quote. I never realized the significance of dialect before. However, it is true that everyone has a dialect, whether they realize it or not. I was born and raised in North Carolina. I have never noticed myself speaking with a southern accent. However, some of my friends have pointed out times when I’ve demonstrated a southern accent or especially when I’ve used the word “y’all.” I always deny having a southern accent, but now I realize that when I speak to other people, they must detect my dialect a lot easier than I can even notice my own. And even though I don’t notice it, I know it’s there, whether I want to admit it or not.

  14. I completely agree when you say that everyone has a dialect of their own whether they realize it or not. Just like the passage said, there are so many dialects all across the world. When we learn language by some form or another we accompany it with some sort of way we say the words, family, friends, and media even carry weight when it comes to their influence on our dialect. I like the way you made the passage personal and identified your dialect, though it seems its not pronounced but you know that there is one there.

  15. By living in America you can always find many dialects across the board. My dialect is different from the individuals I grew up near. I think that the way we speak can generally be placed somewhere if someone has heard of these places and heard someone from these areas. South Carolinians that I have grown up with throughout life have a specific dialect in words they say and choose to say.

  16. I enjoy how you describe how everyone has a different dialect, but you say that you do not have one. I find this really odd since everyone has a dialect. Most people can not hear their own dialect since the easily grow accustomed to their voice. Personally I do not think I have a dialect but when I go talk to someone from a different region they can tell that I am not from that region just by the way I talk. I also found it very interesting that the unabomber, Kaczynski, had a northern California accent and how all the other information matched that making it easier to catch him.

  17. This essay taught me a lot about the importance of studying a dialect. My friend actually wanted to study linguistic anthropology in school and I never understood what there possibly was to study. Now, knowing about the different ways people can be located just from their dialect, I think its really interesting that we have almost a verbal ID card within our own unique dialects. I also found it interesting to discover yet another obscure effect technological communication has on our country. I started noticing a few years back that if I watch a specific tv show for a long amount of time, a few of my words will sound different and I actually pick up on the character’s dialect from that region. Another reason I should stop watching so much tv cause I’m contributing to the disappearance of regional dialects.

  18. “When you learn language, you learn it as a dialect; if you do not speak a dialect, you do not speak.” I love this quote. I know we all speak in a dialect, but I can never pick up on mine. It’s just what I’m used to hearing everyday, so I guess I think that my dialect is the base for everything else. I can tell the slight difference in dialect in my friends’ language, so I guess mine has to be there too. I don’t think it’s southern, but to a northerner, it probably sounds like it.

  19. I completely agree with your response. I found I mostly agreed with your interpretation of the quote, “when you learn language, you learn it as a dialect; if you do not speak a dialect, you do not speak.” Raised in NC I never really thought about my dialect until I traveled to England and found out that I was the one who had an “accent.” I don’t have a southern accent but apparently English men think all Americans sound like cowboys.

  20. Having family in the North and being raised in the south I go through the same thing. Every time I go up to Ohio to visit family they always mess with me because of my southern accent. My cousins friends also call me out on it. I thought you did a great job on this blog.

  21. I can’t say that I don’t have a dialect because I most definitely have a distinct one. I often get asked if I’m from Texas because many people in North Carolina don’t think that Virginia is a southern state. I agree that everyone has their own dialect but some people have a strong one while others have a weaker one. Sometimes I wish I could have a neutral dialect but then I think about my sweet southern charm!

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