Joseph Fatula wrote:

>Let me make something clear: Most English-speakers don't want to speak like
>any other group of English-speakers.  We don't have just some three top
>dialects, but rather a whole horde of them, where most people want to speak
>the way they already speak, and consider their own dialect authoritative.
>(This may be one of the reasons why YAEPTs keep popping up.)
Sounds like a fair enough description.

>But if there are scores of top dialects, what prevents English from breaking
>up into scores of little independent languages?  Simply this - that if I say
>something and my listener doesn't understand, I won't say it that way
>anymore.  It's for this reason that I hardly use the word "turnpike"
>anymore.  For whatever reason, Californians don't understand it.  (And it
>might help to know that I moved to California some years ago.)  But when I
>pronounce "root" with a vowel like o-umlaut in German (sorry, can't remember
>the SAMPA), no one has a problem understanding it.  Therefore, the
>conditioning factor for my removing it from my speech is absent.

Hmm, maybe you do that, but I (and other people whose speech I've paid
attention to on this question) tend towards diglossia (surely too grand
a word for it, nub nevermind). In other words, I choose what point to
take on the dialect-standard continuum, according to the way my
interlocutor speaks, or their competence in English. With people whose
English isn't so great, I speak the most broadly understandable form of
English I can. With my girlfriend, who's native language isn't English,
I speak more naturally, but still more or less "international English".
Here in England I restrict myself to more or less the intersection of my
dialect and an "English dialect" (since I'm un university here, I tend
not to meet too many local accents). In Dublin, with my university
friends, I speak a pan-Irish dialect :). With those friends who are also
from Dublin, I speak a Dublin dialect. With my family, I speak an
idiosyncratic (and, I'm sorry to say, standardised) mix of my parents'
'lects, both of them pretty local in nature (of course, 'lectical usage
is tied to age, too, so I don't really speak like my parents, but that's
clear enough).

I guess if (say) I spend a few more years here, in England, I might
start replacing more local words with less local words, but it's far
from my usual tactic.

>Anyone else get this impression about English?  My views are mostly formed
>from American dialects in this case, so I might be wildly off about English
>in other countries.  My understanding of British ones is similar, except
>that RP is a well-known thing with more influence.

I don't think RP is really still alive and kicking, is it? I do live in
England, but a lot of the accent politics passes me by.

>Joe Fatula

To be sure                              Stephen Mulraney
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