Yet every time I’m in Utah, I have this exact conversation on the lifts. Over and over.
“Where are you from?”
“Where in New York?” (like someone from Onadaga would say, “New York”)
“New York City.”
“You don’t sound like you’re from New York.”
I’m never sure what to say in response. I was born and grew up in the city, but don’t have a stereotypical (e.g. Woody Allen-esque or ‘dese and dose’) accent. I grew up in Forest Hills, a part of Queens,and pretty much everyone I know from there, talks like me.
Contrary to popular belief, there’s no such thing as a Brooklyn or Bronx accent, and anyone who tells you differently, or they can identify someone by it, is full of crap. As Heather’s film expands on, New York accents are based much more on socio-economics and education, than location per se. Things do of course tend to correlate a bit — Staten Island tends to be blue-collar Italian; Spanish Harlem poor and Puerto Rican, at least when I grew up. (It was originally working-poor Irish and Italian. You can hear it in Burt Lancaster).
Here’s an example from Knishes, of a Korean-American, raised on Staten Island,
The part of Forest Hills I grew up in, is Forest Hills Gardens, 2/3 Catholic, 1/3 Jewish, and full of doctors and lawyers. The Ramones, grew up in a more middle-class part of Forest Hills, and have more of that “classic” New York accent.
My parents, were also born in the city, (their parents, too) and both have much heavier accents than me. I’d always notice it after coming back from sleep-away camp. My dad (who also grew up in Forest Hills, but not in the Gardens), pronounces “comfortable” as “kahmfortable, and my mom, growing up very lower-middle-class in the Jewish South Bronx, almost says ‘eye-dear’ for “idea”.
For those who don’t know the sound of my voice, I think I sound similar to John McEnroe. He grew up in Douglaston, which like the Gardens, is also an upper-middle/lower-upper part of Queens.
Coincidentally, this commercial was filmed in the Gardens, just a few blocks from the the West Side Tennis Club, former home of the U.S. Open.
Although even in Spain, McDonald’s is apparently using the English, “I’m lovin’ it!”, I am working on the little bit of Spanish that I know, with the people behind the counter at the McDonald’s at Broadway and 96th.
Everyone who works there seems to be of Dominican extraction. I try to give them a smile and not screw up too much.
And in something semi-related, until I heard that the Royal Spanish Academy decided that the Spanish alphabet had two too many letters, I had no idea that there were 29 of them now down to 27 — having declared “ch” and “ll”, kaput.
Yes, like French, Spanish has a body that “decides” what is proper and what isn’t. Kind of like the International Tetherball Authority.
I wrote earlier about the meeting that CB 6 held at the Old Reformed Church in Park Slope to discuss the DOT’s study of the PPW bike lane. The opposition is headed by a group with the Orwellian-named “Neighbors For Better Bike Lanes” (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is more honestly named).
Its principal spokesperson is Lois Carswell. She rose to challenge the DOT’s count of cyclists using the bike path. NBBL had conducted its own count and came up with roughly half the numbers that DOT cited. Take that, Janette Sadik-Khan!
The DOT spokesperson responded that they had examined NBBL’s numbers and found that NBBL had done their count at the extreme end of the bike lane
In other words, by putting their camera in front of the co-op where most of the lead opponents live, they didn’t count the many people who rode the bike lane only part of its route, before turning off at major intersections like 9th or 3rd Streets.
Carswell responded with the priceless,
“I disagree with your logic.”
She declined to offer her logic , as well as ignoring the fact that acceptance of her numbers would seem to refute the charge NBBL makes that seniors are dodging maniac bikers left and right (in fact, there have been no reported incidents).
But forget the cognitive dissonance; like staring into the sun, it will only hurt you to dwell on it. You have to love the lady’s last name. Like Dickens’s Mr. Murdstone, or James Bond’s nemesis, Auric Goldfinger, it’s a euonym.
I am a fan of proper punctuation, and an avowed enemy of its poor use. I care about the difference between “Alice, Bob, and Mary”, and “Alice, Bob and Mary”. The difference between an en and an em dash.
One rule I have a hard time remembering, is when to use an apostrophe when indicating the possessive for words ending with “s”.
When creating the possessive form of words ending in “s,” use only an apostrophe after the “s” if the word ends in a “z” sound. However, if the word ends in an “s” sound use an apostrophe and an additional “s” to create the possessive.
Less Desirable: He was a student in Professor Adams’s class.
More Desirable: He was a student in Professor Adams’ class.
However: He was a student in Professor Weiss’s class.
Lastly, I think it would be cool if English had that combo ‘question
mark’ and ‘exclamation point’, like in Spanish , but then again,
Shakespeare didn’t need one, so I probably don’t either.
As prescient as The West Wingwas about politics, it did require suspension of belief in two regards...
That fluorescent lights don’t exist, and the place is lit only by incandescent bulbs, and that people speak, like actors in a Shakespeare play, full of wit, in full paragraphs, with nary a pause, or an ‘erm’...
Maybe Christopher Hitchens can speak like that. I don’t think anyone else can. Me, I’d give my left arm to be able to write dialogue like that.
“Do you ever get tired of the sound of your own voice?”
Cheers to Rep. Anthony Weiner (go, Forest Hills!), for standing up and calling ‘bullshit’ on IRA-loving Peter King, and the rest of the GOP, for their cynically voting against a bill to provide aid for 9/11 responders.
The GOP wanted to be able to attach amendments such as prohibiting aid to illegal aliens who were responders. I have no idea if there are any such people, and neither do they. The idea was to force the Dems into making a bunch of votes that could then be used against them in campaigns. The Dems sought a straight ‘up-or-down’ vote, but that requires a super-majority; with the GOP voting '‘nay’ en bloc, the measure couldn’t pass. (King voted ‘aye’, to provide cover for his colleagues, knowing the bill would be defeated).
It was truly despicable, and Weiner said so. As David Kurtz said, he’s my kind of Democrat.
It reminded me of this great scene, from one of my very favorite movies, The Insider. Sometimes, a little genuine outrage, and some vocal amplitude, are as effective as any high-falutin’ words..
In the March/April issue, there is a small piece on whether it’s proper to use “try and”, rather than “try to”. It has something to do with split infinitives (and I’ll have to read that link to know what those are).
Though Meriam-Webster’s Dictionary of English Usage says that “try and has been used frequently enough in the past 150 years that it’s now standard usage”, Garner’s Modern American Usage, calls it an American "casualism”, and the American Heritage Guide to Contemporary Usage and Styles says, “try and, strikes an inappropriately conversational note in formal writing”.
The Times led yesterday with a great piece on the failure of the blowout preventer on the Deepwater Horizon rig. It’s like reading the reports on the Challenger or Columbia disasters, or the fate of the Titanic. Maybe a little bad luck, but hardly an act of God. Just the usual human frailties.
“For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.”
I have one small nit to pick about another-wise great article. It says,
“But if federal regulators did not see any problems, some crew members on the DeepwaterHorizonappeared to believe that BP’s decisions were, increasing the odds of a catastrophic blowout that only the rig’s blind shear ram could stop.” (my emphasis)
No, no, no. Decreasing the odds. Sorry, that’s one of my pet peeves. If they wanted to use the word ‘increasing’, they could have said, “increasing the chances”. I e-mailed the editor.
On a more substantive note, what the article makes perfectly clear, is that in this case, the term “fail-safe device” was clearly a misnomer. It’s like that episode of Seinfeld where Jerry goes to pick up a rental car, only to find out that the car he reserved, was given to another customer.
Jerry: I don’t understand, I made a reservation, do you have my reservation?
Agent: Yes, we do, unfortunately we ran out of cars.
Jerry: But the reservation keeps the car here. That’s why you have the reservation.
Agent: I know why we have reservations.
Jerry: I don’t think you do. If you did, I’d have a car. See, you know how to take the reservation, you just don’t know how to hold the reservation and that’s really the most important part of the reservation, the holding. Anybody can just take them.