Monday, May 18, 2015

Grammar Map

Miss me last week?

I was in Birmingham, Alabama all week on business, and I have always been fascinated by how people speak in different parts of the country. Since I've traveled a lot, and I've been fortunate to have friends from coast to coast, I consider myself pretty damn good at figuring out where people are from just by listening to them speak. Not just by their "accents," but also by their word choices, colloquialisms, and grammar.

For example, in Alabama, a lot of local folks like to but "a" in front of verbs.

I'm a-goin' to the store to buy some bread.

Incidentally, many southern states also do this. West Virginia, for example.

Yale researchers have been studying how people in certain regions of the country use grammar, and they even created a pretty cool map. It's amazingly accurate. In fact, the map shows that many caucasians in Alabama do that A-Prefixing thing that I noticed.

Here in the St. Louis area (along with much of the Midwest - Illinois, Southern Michigan and Indiana, the Dakotas, Oklahoma, Ohio, and Iowa), we tend to use the Positive Anymore when talking. Here's a couple examples:

Yes, we still have several Blockbuster Video stores around here anymore.
The only thing anymore about baseball I like is watching home runs.

I have friends in Los Angeles, and along with other parts of the country, they like to do the Drama So when talking:

I am so going to kick his ass when I see him next time.

People in New York state and Houston, Texas, and Seattle also tend to do the Drama So.

I spent some time in parts of Pennsylvania back in the early 2000s, and I always found Pennsylvanians had a very distinctive usage of the the English language that became easy for me to pick up. They are one of the regions that do the Needs Washed.

After driving through the mud, my car needs washed.

By the way, I've been told that I have absolutely no accent at all when I speak. People have said that I speak as if I could be on the news. Not sure if that's a compliment or not.

You can learn more about the Yale study and take a look at the entire Grammar Map HERE.

QUICK NOTES:

* Amazingly, Iron Warrior shot up the Amazon Best Sellers rankings despite a lack of marketing. It hovered in the Top 20 in the Asian Myths and Legends category before tumbling. Oh well. Easy come easy go.

* I will be at Wizard World Comic Con in St. Louis this weekend, sharing an author table with Eric Asher. It's the biggest show I've ever done. I'll be blogging about my experience next week.

* My blog turns 10 years old this August, and I think I'm going to celebrate with a bunch of giveaways AND I'm going to revert to my old format for the entire month. So expect whacky science stories in August.

40 comments:

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's awesome news about your book! I did post about it for you last week.
Around here we get weird usages for words like slam and carried. (Slam full and carried mom to the store.) Some people sound like they have rocks in their mouth when speaking. If Einstein had been from the South, people would've thought he was an idiot.

L. Diane Wolfe said...

"Come with" is such bad grammar. Ever heard the phrase "The one what brung you?"

Jennifer Hawes said...

I love the way people talk across the country. Just across the border in Illinois, they talk very different from the way people talk here in Hannibal, MO. I'm from IL, but I don't think I sound like they do! Although, I do call soda "pop." :)

Jo said...

Being originally from England, when people comment on my accent, my response is: This isn't an accent, it's the original sound. In fact a lot of the things you quote are just plain bad grammar or at least bad English. For many years, when I still lived in England, I used to assure any Americans I met that they did not speak English but Americans. I was a very opinionated youngster - not changed much.

Pat Hatt said...

Saying anymore like that would drive me nuts. They use "so" around here some. Not sure what other ones as I'm so used to it.

Anne Marie J. Schlueter said...

Oh, good you're back, finally able to breath. Geez, don't do that! ;) Joking (sort of), but hope that your trip was successful!

It's always fascinated me the different ways different parts of the US speak the English language. The words they use and the placement is interesting, I wonder how certain phrases originated in certain areas. Another thing that is interesting is how the words are said, like accents. For example, in Ohio, people really draw out their vowels. When I moved there, I picked it up (subconsciously) within months, and everyone back home in PA was like "WHAT LANGUAGE ARE YOU SPEAKING?!" I wonder what it is about certain places that makes people speak differently, if that makes sense.

Anne Marie J. Schlueter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Patricia Lynne said...

Great news about your book.
I wonder what Michigan's quirks are. I know in certain part, people say yous instead of you.

cleemckenzie said...

Dialects are always interesting and their origins interesting to hunt down. Ever run into a two-part verb, "ret up"? As in I'm going to "ret up" the house?

Congrats on the sales. May they continue for you.

Chrys Fey said...

All of those phrase on that map made me cringe. I am such a writer. haha

Congratulations on the Amazon rank!!!! :D

Your blog is going to be 10? This is awesome! I wish my blog had been around that long.

T. Powell Coltrin said...

Enjoy the Comic Con. Sounds like fun.

My daughter told me that I not only pause to self-correct my grammar, but I also correct dialect. I didn't know I did that. The grammar thing is from my English teacher aunt. :)

Here in MO, we can talk country for sure. Where youins going? I'm goin to warsh my car. LOVE it.

D.G. Hudson said...

I love the linguistics map. Colloquialisms seem to be the easiest to recognize. I was born in the south, but because I lacked the southern accent (except for a few words) I was always asked where I came from when I moved to British Columbia, Canada. In the south, I was told I talked like a Yankee (too fast and not enough y'alls), but to Canadians, all Americans are Yankees. So if you speak like an announcer, I'd say that's a good thing. . .

DEZMOND said...

Oooo, ten years makes you probably the oldest blogger around :)

Pat Dilloway said...

I've been in Kentucky a few days but haven't really paid attention to the grammar.

Southpaw HR Sinclair said...

Grammar and phrases specific to a region are always so cool.

Congrats on the book shooting up! We can ignore the last part.:)

Cherie Reich said...

Language/accents are fascinating. A guy once told me I sounded like I came from California, even though I've never been there. I guess I picked up a lot from TV. Heh.

farawayeyes said...

A really interesting post about language. It's really about so much more than the simple accent.

I'm born and raised in Chicago, but at this point of my life I've now lived about 2/3 of it elsewhere. Every so often I'll be out somewhere and a total stranger will come up to me and say; "You're from Chicago, aren't you?" Blows me away every time. I guess once you got it, you never lose it.

'Now I gotta run out for a SODA. Do you wanna come WITH?'

Christine Rains said...

That's really interesting about language. I live in south-central Indiana, and I don't notice anyone using the anymore thing. I think my voice is without an accent, but every now and then, someone picks up my Canadian accent. Have fun at Wizard World Con! :)

Robin said...

I think I've managed to cover my Language Roots fairly well. And then someone will ask me if I'm from (insert place). Usually it's where I grew up, but sometimes it's a place I've lived (but not currently living). It amazes me that people can pick those things out. It also amazes me that I tend to tack on aspects of language from each place I've lived and add them into my repertoire.

Yeah for weird science!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

That was interesting. As a Pennsylvanian, thanks for saying we speak differently. It might be the PA Dutch influence. We call it speaking Dutch, putting verbs in odd places when speaking and writing. Took me years to keep it out of my writing and editors still correct my word orders in sentences at times. Tomorrow my lawn needs mowed. LOL

Lexa Cain said...

Idiom and dialects are really fascinating in different parts of the US. I'm from NY and yes, I use the Drama So. lol. Big congrats that your book's doing so well! I hope you have a great time at the convention and sell a truckload! If you have time on May 30 or 31, you might want to join the "Your Favorite Vacation Spot" blog hop. It's a good way to get some new readers and authors (including bestselling author Melanie Karsak) to visit your blog and see your series and new release. (Rules and linky on my blog - I'd love to know what your favorite vacay spot is!). Have a great weekend at the convention.

nancy john said...

it easier when you are writing in the language that you grew up speaking. While many of us who may read this post grew up speaking English, that does not mean that we may not need to improve in one aspect or another of English grammar. Websites that cater to this aspect of writing are always useful.

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Loni Townsend said...

Ha, I looked at the quote over Idaho. Though I typically say "need" instead of "needs", that is a common phrase. The one that I find interesting is the pronunciation of mature. Around here, the "t" comes out as "ch". The first time I heard "ma-too-er", I was all, "wha?"

Apparently, "what can I get started for you?" at the coffee shop is uncommon in other areas. I had critique partners saying it sounded weird in my writing.

Congrats on your book's success! You earned it. :)

Maurice Mitchell said...

Great to hear your book is getting noticed Jay! It's strange what becomes a regional grammar usage so I'll check that out. People tell me I don't have an accent but one person out of the hundreds I've met over the years accurately guessed I'm from New York from my nonexistent accent. Go figure

Mark Noce said...

Pretty neat. I've heard that a-verb thing in Appalachia for sure. And I live in California, and I _so_ know what you're talking about;) With my work I often talk to folks who use very different English, i.e. folks in Ireland or India, and it's always interesting to hear how they use words too.

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