Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Language and the Family Historian

How a person uses words tells others a lot about them. The first thing that probably comes to mind is how we can get a good idea of what country a person is by their accent, for example if a person speaks with a strong British accent it is pretty safe to assume they were born and raised in the United Kingdom.

Along with an individuals accent there are other aspects of language that reveal clues about the speaker, such as; variations in pronunciation, how certain words are put together in a phrase, as well as variations in meanings to a single word or phrase. For example "Knock me up" in England means "wake me up" while in the United States it has a completely different meaning. Language can also give us an idea of the individuals level of education, and to some point their social economical status.

Although I have long known how language is a key clue to an individuals level of eduction and geographical location, I never gave it much thought beyond that. Especially considering my oldest daughter who had never been to New York, for some unknown reason spoke with a strong New Yorker accent until she was in second or third grade. (Believe me I have no clue how that happened)

However, after taking this QUIZ and seeing how close it was to pinpointing not just the State in which I was born and raised but also the general location with in that state, it got my gears spinning. 
I was born and raised within a 60 mile radius of Riverside, CA.
So I took the quiz again this time using my second choices on questions that I use more than one word to express the same thing. Low and behold the second test results although less accurate put me in the Midwest where I have spent nearly 20 years of my life.

Talk about a pretty accurate quiz. 

Taking this quiz reminded me of some of the various odd terms and phrases my Grandmother use to use when I was a little girl. Then I got to wondering with all my enthusiasm of maintaining a detailed family history for future generations why have I not considered making a written or audio record of some of our speech patterns. Most likely it is because to us they are just how we talk.

Do you make a written or recorded reference of your family's colloquial diction?

If you are a vocabulary nut like I am you may also find the quiz's HERE a lot of fun.

1 comment:

Jack said...

I'm a fake. I grew up in a blue collar town north of Boston. When I went off to college, the other kids laughed at my accent. (I didn't even know that I had one . . . everyone in my little town talked the same way.) I decided that my accent was going to get in my way, so I began studying how the anchors on network news broadcasts spoke. Within a month I had learned a new language and dropped my accent.