Do You Speak American?

Sold by Nan A. Talese
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Is American English in decline? Are regional dialects dying out? Is there a difference between men and women in how they adapt to linguistic variations?

These questions, and more, about our language catapulted Robert MacNeil and William Cran—the authors (with Robert McCrum) of the language classic The Story of English—across the country in search of the answers. Do You Speak American? is the tale of their discoveries, which provocatively show how the standard for American English—if a standard exists—is changing quickly and dramatically.

On a journey that takes them from the Northeast, through Appalachia and the Deep South, and west to California, the authors observe everyday verbal interactions and in a host of interviews with native speakers glean the linguistic quirks and traditions characteristic of each area. While examining the histories and controversies surrounding both written and spoken American English, they address anxieties and assumptions that, when explored, are highly emotional, such as the growing influence of Spanish as a threat to American English and the special treatment of African-American vernacular English. And, challenging the purists who think grammatical standards are in serious deterioration and that media saturation of our culture is homogenizing our speech, they surprise us with unpredictable responses.

With insight and wit, MacNeil and Cran bring us a compelling book that is at once a celebration and a potent study of our singular language.


Each wave of immigration has brought new words to enrich the American language. Do you recognize the origin of


1. blunderbuss, sleigh, stoop, coleslaw, boss, waffle?

Or

2. dumb, ouch, shyster, check, kaput, scram, bummer?

Or

3. phooey, pastrami, glitch, kibbitz, schnozzle?

Or

4. broccoli, espresso, pizza, pasta, macaroni, radio?

Or

5. smithereens, lollapalooza, speakeasy, hooligan?

Or

6. vamoose, chaps, stampede, mustang, ranch, corral?











1. Dutch 2. German 3. Yiddish 4. Italian 5. Irish 6. Spanish


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About the author

ROBERT MacNEIL and WILLIAM CRAN are the coauthors of The Story of English (with Robert McCrum). The coanchor of PBS’s The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour until his retirement in 1995, Robert MacNeil is also the author of four nonfiction works, including his two volumes of memoir, Wordstruck and Looking for My Country, and three novels, The Voyage, Burden of Desire, and Breaking News. He lives in New York City.


From the Hardcover edition.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Nan A. Talese
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Published on
Dec 18, 2007
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Pages
240
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ISBN
9780307423573
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Language
English
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Genres
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Etymology
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Semantics
Language Arts & Disciplines / Linguistics / Sociolinguistics
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Introducción a la Sociolingüística Hispánica es un libro de texto imprescindible para los estudiantes de pregrado que cursan sociolingüística hispánica. Cada capítulo está redactado en un lenguaje sencillo y accesible. Sobre la base de un enfoque pedagógico, cada capítulo incluye una introducción, una lista de los temas a ser discutidos, el desarrollo de tales temas, un resumen, una lista de términos claves, un glosario de la terminología clave, una sección de ejercicios y preguntas de comprensión al final de cada sección temática de cada capítulo. Provee una introducción actualizada sobre los temas más relevantes de la versátil sociolingüística española contemporánea tales como la variación fonológica, el bilingüismo, la lengua y las leyes, las actitudes lingüísticas, entre otros Incluye una variedad de actividades para apoyar y extender el aprendizaje de los estudiantes Ofrece un enfoque pedagógico único que incluye ejercicios de análisis de datos. Estas actividades estimulan la  investigación por parte de los estudiantes a través del uso de las bases de datos, la música popular y otros recursos audiovisuales El libro incluye ejemplos de las variedades de español habladas en el mundo hispanohablante con secciones especiales dedicadas a las variedades habladas en los EEUU

 

Introducción a la Sociolingüística Hispánica is a much-needed undergraduate introduction to the study of sociolinguistics in the Spanish-speaking world. Written in accessible Spanish, each chapter includes an overview, a review of topics, a section of key terms, exercises and questions.

Provides up-to-date coverage of the main topics of sociolinguistics – such as phonological variation, bilingualism, and language attitudes –  in relation to the Hispanic world Incorporates a variety of activities to support and extend student’s learning Offers a unique pedagogical approach, in which data analysis exercises encourage students to conduct research by using electronic databases, popular music, and audiovisual material Features examples that apply to Spanish varieties spoken around the world, with special sections dedicated to the Spanish varieties of the US
Renowned journalist and author of the international bestseller Wordstruck, Robert MacNeil reflects on a life lived between nations, and why he finally decided to call himself an American.

Growing up in Halifax during World War II, it seemed to Robert MacNeil that nothing of significance ever happened in Canada. From his mother’s obsession with all things English (even the marmalade) to his own love for American music like Rhapsody in Blue, Canada seemed too small, too parochial for his ambitions. Moving to Britain in his mid-twenties, MacNeil was suddenly exposed to a country with thousands of years of history, extraordinary theatre and culture. But it was in America that MacNeil finally found his country -- America, a land of contrasts and possibilities.

A journalist for NBC and later for PBS on the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour, MacNeil was a witness to many of the current events that shaped the last century: the erection of the Berlin Wall, Kennedy’s election and assassination, the Cuban Missile Crisis, Watergate and finally September 11, 2001. As the well-respected and trenchant news reporter brought world issues to the American public, he discovered that his Canadian values and upbringing allowed him some valuable detachment and perspective. And when MacNeil returned to Nova Scotia after 40 years, he found his country of birth much changed -- multiculturalism and diversity had caused Canadian culture to blossom in his absence.

With charm and warmth, but also with a piercing eye on the century, MacNeil looks at the meanings of patriotism, nationalism and home, and explains why he finally made the decision to become an American citizen.

Excerpt from Looking for My Country
I grew up in a nation trying to build a distinctive culture in an environment that constantly threatens extinction, physical from the north, and political/cultural from the south. Each fear, in its own way, reinforces the other. The inhospitality of the northern climate induces Canadians to drift southwards and the magnet of American material prosperity and opportunity reinforces that urge. Yet the fear of being swallowed, ingested by the American leviathan, makes Canadians draw back, shrinking from the smothering embrace, to find a source of national pride and identity in overcoming the natural human fear of perishing in frozen wastes. Peter Gzowski, the late, beloved CBC radio host, once ran a contest which produced this inspired response, “As Canadian as possible under the circumstances.”
This book describes dialect differences in American English and their impact on education and everyday life. It explores some of the major issues that confront educational practitioners and suggests what practitioners can do to recognize students’ language abilities, support their language development, and expand their knowledge about dialects. Topics addressed include:
*popular concerns about the nature of language variation;
*characteristic structures of different dialects;
*various interactive patterns characteristic of social groups;
*the school impacts of dialect differences in speaking, writing, and reading, including questions about teaching Standard English; and
*the value of dialect education in schools to enable students to understand dialects as natural and normal language phenomena.

Changes in the Second Edition: In this edition the authors reconsider and expand their discussion of many of the issues addressed in the first edition and in other of their earlier works, taking into account especially the research on dialects and publications for audiences beyond linguistics that have appeared since the first edition. This edition is offered as an updated report on the state of language variation and education in the United States.

Dialects in Schools and Communities is rooted in questions that have arisen in workshops, surveys, classes, discussion groups, and conversations with practitioners and teacher educators. It is thus intended to address important needs in a range of educational and related service fields. As an overview of current empirical research, it synthesizes current understandings and provides key references—in this sense it is a kind of translation and interpretation in which the authors’ goal is to bring together the practical concerns of educators and the vantage point of sociolinguistics. No background in linguistics or sociolinguistics is assumed on the part of the reader.

This volume is intended for teacher interns and practicing teachers in elementary and secondary schools; early childhood specialists; specialists in reading and writing; speech/language pathologists; special education teachers; and students in various language specialties.
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