Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Need a new way to kill time on the internet?

Are you fascinated by words and language? If so, you might want to check out the Economist's Johnson blog (named for the dictionary-maker Samuel Johnson), where you can find everything from the Harry Potter stars trying to speak with American accents (Rupert Grint overdoes the R's, and to my ears Emma Watson is the most convincing of the lot) to annoying airline lingo to the many, many ways you can talk about a lion in Arabic.

One thing I discovered via the blog that I'm embarrassed to admit I never realized on my own is that Eeyore got his name because that's how a donkey's bray is rendered in a non-rhotic (i.e. R-dropping) English accent. As in, Hee-haw. This despite the fact I did figure out long ago that Marmee in Little Women is just Mommy, because Louisa May Alcott was from the part of the world that pahks its cahs in Hahvahd Yahd. I think I got Marmee but missed Eeyore because the Bostonian accent sounds so much more aggressive in its non-rhoticity, somehow, or maybe I notice R-dropping more in an American accent because it doesn't fit the general pattern.


  1. Non-rhoticity! I grew up with that (one Massachusetts-native parent) and never even knew there was a word for it. But now I want to try to work it into conversations.

    And wow, I did not need to know about that blog. Potential huge hit to my productivity.

  2. I grew up with the rhotic version of a Southern accent (i.e. Appalachia rather than plantation), but I can slip into a non-rhotic Southern belle voice at the drop of a hat. ("Ah do de-clayah") However, I can't do my childhood accent unless I hear it, at which point I'll slip into it without realizing it.