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Edward G. Nilges
- Publié sur Amazon.com
This is a new subject, because modern linguists accept that the myriad forms of English all over the world should not be viewed as demotic variants of American Standard English or BBC English, but as languages in their own right.
This book does it justice, and is an excellent resource for the business expat as such.
One learns how silly one sounds when one tries music hall upper clawss English on the Bridget Jones generation, who speak, it seems, "Thames Estuary" English, a mixture of BBC, Northern influenced glottal stops for zing, Caribbean phrasing and Americanisms, thankfully innocent of any "old boy"s or "I say you chaps"s. The old boys were real enough and if American Movie Channel oldies are creditable they really talked like that but one must remember that they have for the most part shuffled off their mortal coil.
McArthur does miss the fact that a "prestige" form of speech does one job rawther well, and that is simple communication to people all over the world. The BBC itself is the prime example. While treating an argot like Bow Bells Cockney with respect, one must also keep in mind that much of it, as McArthur knows, was developed by the lads in order to hide swag from the coppers as in the case of rhyming slang that then removes the last rhyme.
Fascism is the limit of identity politics, and, insistence on equal rights for all argots can create bloody nonsense such as the de-hyphenation of Serbo-Croatian. But, as McArthur points out, languages are combining and argots are disappearing, so our task may as well be their preservation.
Read thoroughly, but jumping around as one would read a reference book, in search of juicy bits, one is well-rewarded. I now know how to pronounce Australian, for example, like Crocodile Dundee: it is pronounced Strine. This is marvelous economy for a frequent word, reducing Terra Australius down to bite size.
I never knew that there is an Antarctic English, used by the international community in "the land of ice and snow". It deserves a literature, therefore here is my first contribution:
A beaker was bareassed on ice
And said, this is not very nice
For the hairs in me ass
Shall delay me manfood repast
For I have learned that in Antarctica, a "beaker" is a scientist, after a character in Sesame Street. "Manfood" is in binary opposition to "dogfood" and expresses, perhaps, the mutual interdependence of man and sled dog in Polar climes, at least until recently. My "beaker" uses "me" instead of "my" in that Celtic mode characteristic, I believe, of Strines, who are over-represented in the South Pole.
I'm not sure about the Oxford Guide's derivation of American Ebonics "homeboy". It was said to have been derived from men in prison who would attempt to relate to new fish by claiming a common neighborhood. It may equally relate to practice when working people of color would form communities in Chicago and other Northern cities, and integrate "boys" newly come up North from their own home towns.
I was called homeboy by a New York bellhop who I overtipped in 1991 and there is an association of likable naivety which may or may not be taken advantage of depending on the good nature of the homeys already knowledgeable about a new environment.
To be chillin, with the homes, is to have established an ongoing pattern of mutual recognition and respect combined with a basic wariness which is the enemy of enthusiasm and naivety. It is an Austinian "speech act" since it performs the acknowledgement as well as describing a mental state.
But the new environment in which I be chillin need not be prison, and, far more American blacks have had, in place of prison, the honest experience of moving to a new city for work and chilling, in the new city, with the homes.
Indeed, one wonder why simple work experience is so seldom foregrounded in discussion of language. Instead, for white and European people, their recreations are emphasized while American blacks get to be mentioned in the same context as prison...when, last time I checked, there are a lot of white homeys in jail too.
But I certainly understand that language is a political minefield. Its author fails to connect his research with Foucault's account of language as systematic capillary power because for many English, Strine, and 'merican academics, France is a no-fly zone: complementary to its fashionability in literary criticism, where French theory is redundancy, its utility in APPLIED lingustics is neglected.
But in general I be chilling with this book, and my homey has done an excellent job.