Tag Archives: English language

Language Alert: dih’int, wuhd’int

That would be didn’t and wouldn’t. Where the contraction “n’t” traditionally silenced the sound of the vowel “o”, there is now a clearly audible “i” (or “e”).

And the ‘n’ is now much sharper and separate – try pronouncing the two versions yourself and pay attention to the lip formations that accompany the sounds. They’re quite different.

I started hearing this among high school girls – not boys, just girls (?) – about ten years ago. Then I began hearing it in young adults and now . . .

I have not heard it from people who have a southern accent (any ideas why?); it seems to occur among speakers of what used to be called “American Broadcast English” and those with New York/New Jersey accents.

RIP Christopher Hitchens

The English language took a terrible blow today when it lost its finest practitioner. There haven’t been many like Christoper Hitchens – even across centuries – who, during a journey from working class to Oxford to Trotskyite to American to war supporter, enriched the body of liberal and secular literature and thought with unique and eloquent passion. With words.

In the Times obit, he is quoted thusly:

“I personally want to ‘do’ death in the active and not the passive,” he wrote, “and to be there to look it in the eye and be doing something when it comes for me.”

And there he articulates what I’ve always hoped for myself, but haven’t been able to articulate. I hear others say they want to die quickly, perhaps in sleep, ‘suddenly’ (as we say when it’s unexpected).

Not me. I want to know, I want to ponder but mostly I want to experience it and say goodbye to my world, my life. Like Hitchens.

Give this kid a gig

For those of you who don’t waste as much time on the intertubes as I do, here is this week’s viral sensation. He does 24 English accents, one after another. Pretty remarkable – it’s 8 full minutes so you may want to just sample it.