Sunday, May 02, 2004

Lexicography!

I was doing something today that required a lot of sitting around time. So, I read a dictionary. The one I had was the Second Edition, but I suspect they're the same-ish. I was reading the essays that are in the front, and this one had an excellent history of the English language. The great vowel shift, etc. (For Carl- why did the vowel shift happen? Something that drastic and quick couldn't have been simply organic, could it?) It culminated with a meandering walk through the various dialects of American English, with the pronunciations and unique vocabularies. A cooter is a turtle, for example. Did not know that. My favorite was the following, and I cannot hear/read/say it in anything but the Cletus voice- "pulley bone" which those of us North/Mid North speakers would call the "wish bone".


EDIT: I found it. Or, at least, a newly edited version. This has none of the old English stuff in it that the second edition had, like the three way comparison of upper, mid and lower versions (with their varying influences). Nonetheless, it is a fun look at our crazy, disappearing American dialects. I especially like where he describes the north/south midland cut-off line.

The dictionary is here, but yahoo has the same content here, and much faster.

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