Linguistic Observations

Last summer I spent two months in British Columbia with linguists-in-training from all over the world. As you might guess, we spent lots of time talking about accents. For example, Canadians say process with the pro sounding like the way I say professional. My friend from Oregon would never have said the name of her state as Ore-gone, the way I grew up saying it.

Coming from Wisconsin, I never thought I had an accent. Midwest dialect isn’t far from standard in some ways, but as a linguist I’ve learned that everyone has an accent. Just the way I say Wisconsin makes mine pretty easy to identify. Over the last semester I became really interested in differences in speech based on social and geographical positions. Yesterday I got to interact with a speaker from my own state, and I loved her accent!

Some of my favorite moments:

Speaking about her son: “He bought that gosh darn evolution when he went to college, an’ nat was the end a that.”

Buying eggs: “Them are the organtic (organic) kind”

Fixing a vacuum: “Ner we go, now that’s flesh (flush) with da thing.”

I couldn’t peg her speech at all. Do most women from my town who have lived here all their lives have an accent like hers? Times like those make me want to do my own research. I’m ready to graduate and get to work!