How Americans speak

I don’t know if it’s just that the debates about Daniel Miller’s speech in Berlin Station have raised my level of attention to the issue, but there has been a lot of discussion of speech issues around here lately. This morning on Wisconsin Public Radio, there was a call in show where an expert from New Jersey was talking about regional speech in the US with special attention to things we say in Wisconsin. It’s an interesting listen — but there’s at least one thing he says that I think is uninformed, and another I disagree with. He only seems interested in what people say but not why they say it that way (e.g., there’s no commentary on why people say “and so” in Wisconsin although I think it’s pretty obvious that it comes from German usage, and there are a lot of local usages that neither of them discuss. “Dassent” for “shouldn’t” or “mustn’t” is the most notable — all my father’s relatives say this but not my mother’s). In any case, perhaps an interesting listen. It also gets to what we think of as an acceptable explanation for something that’s hard to prove — which came up in the response to my remark on Twitter that it’s a mystery why Germans call a cellular or mobile phone “eine Handy.” Why do we prefer one explanation over another?

~ by Servetus on October 24, 2016.

37 Responses to “How Americans speak”

  1. Ein Handy Klugscheissermodus aus 😉

    • aha, thanks.

      • Sächlich.

        • Wenn schon, dann Fachsprache: Neutrum. auch klugscheißern kann 😛

          @ Serv: Weil ich überhaupt nicht mehr mitkomme und mich die Richard-Lawine komplett verschüttet hat, an dieser (eigentlich unpassenden) Stelle ein wirklich herzliches “Danke schön!” an dich für das fleißige Bloggen. 🙂

          • Da kann ich mich nur anschließen. Danke Servetus!! 😊

            • Bitte zusammen. Allerdings wird dies nicht ewig dauern — ich halte nicht mit und irgendwann arbeite ich wieder. 🙂

              • So kann’s ja auch nicht weitergehen. Sonst erleiden entweder Du oder RA noch einen breakdown. Oder sogar simultan!! 😉 Schläft der Mann eigentlich???

      • Probably this was answered. A have a German aunt by marriage who lives in Muenster. She calls her cell a handy, because it is handy.

        • The experts are split on this question. That would be my explanation, too, and an important research institute in Mannheim agrees with us, but there’s another derivation, from “handheld,” which has to do with labels developers applied to early products.

  2. my grandmother would often trail off at the end of her sentences with “and so”. I’d be sitting on the edge of my seat, waiting for her to finish her sentence, but she never did, LOL!

    • yeah, it is not always clear to me what you say after “and so,” either. Sometimes it is an invitation to say something, sometimes it means “and all the other stuff you know about that I won’t repeat.” Confusing.

    • I tend to start many of my sentences, when I am beginning to tell a story, with ” so,” I noticed some of you say ” good on you.” I always say “good for you.” Not sure why this came up. Lazy Perry, but I have a few thigs to say aboutDaniel Miller’s American (I’ve been threatening for a while)- I can’t speak to his German.

  3. I always laugh about the word ‘it s dogsweather.’In Dutch ‘hondenweer’ I don t really know if this usable in other countries. This word is used, when it s rainy weather. But my dogs don t like rain or cold. So I think it s also a word that was formed with other words in earlier days. I don t ever think about it, till I had dogs.

    • You can say that in German but not in English.

      • In German it would be ‘Sauwetter’, Hundewetter doesn’t exist in German to my knowledge. There is however an equivalent to the English ‘it’s raining cats and dogs’, there in German you can say ‘ es regnet junge Hunde’ at least where I came from… 😉

        • The term “Hundewetter” or “Hundswetter” does exist. Sauwetter ist aber geläufiger.

          • Okay, dann aber eher im Süden Deutschlands würde ich sagen… Aus dem Norden wo ich herkomme, kann ich mich nicht daran erinnern das gehört zu haben…

          • My exSO’s family says it. They’re from NS. However, his parents studied in Tübingen so maybe they picked it up there.

        • Hundewetter exists in the south and it’s less strong language-wise and possibly slightly better weather than Sauwetter. We can say “Es hagelt Katzen.” when the weather is really bad.

  4. I’m sure you have come across this already but I will repeat it anyway as it’s so funny. According to the “schäbische Theorie”, the term “Handy” is derived from the question “Hen die koi Schnur?”. Makes me crack up every time! 😂😂😂

  5. after listening to the program I’d like to point out that a ’roundabout’ and a ‘traffic circle’ are not the same thing.

    and I had a good laugh at their reaction to ‘yinz’ 😀

  6. Laughing at “yinz” . My goodness that is so “Pittsburghese” it is one of our slang words for you or all of you. We def have a language all our own, drive you insane.

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