Archive for Accents

Where did all the Boston "r's" go? Beijing

This one is a bit long (6:15), but the comedian is so fantastic that I couldn't stop watching until the very end, which is like a linguistic analog to the conclusion of a fireworks show.  With good subtitles in English and Mandarin.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (30)

The importance of stress in Chinese utterances

Photograph of a slide shown in a classroom in China:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (23)

The Ramsey hypothesis

Chris Button writes:

I’ve been working on adding Japanese readings to my dictionary*. I decided to add pitch accents on the kun readings, and started getting interested in the history there. I came across some amazing work by Bob Ramsey—notably this one**.

[*VHM:  Comparative historical dictionary of Sinitic and Indo-European.]
 
[**"The Old Kyoto Dialect and the Historical Development of Japanese Accent", Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, 39.1 (June, 1979), 157-175.]
 
Clearly, to my novice eyes, he is absolutely correct. I’m staggered no-one really accepted it! I suppose it’s that age-old issue with academia around it being very difficult to disrupt the old guard with their vested interests. In any case, it looks like this recent article adds some nice typological data to Bob’s brilliant proposal.
 
I wonder what Bob thinks of it nowadays?

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)

Accents you expect to hear

From "Imitating accents", in Penn Today newsletter (4/6/22):

Research from linguistics postdoctoral fellow Lacey Wade of the School of Arts & Sciences found that people imitate accent features they expect to hear, even without hearing them explicitly. The work, the first time such expectation-driven convergence has been shown in a controlled experiment, reveals just how much the subconscious factors into the way people speak.

People imitate accent features they expect to hear, even without hearing them

Research from postdoc Lacey Wade confirmed this idea, what she calls expectation-driven convergence, in a controlled experiment for the first time. The work reveals just how much the subconscious factors into the way people speak.

———–

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (16)

Fat people timely report

Zeyao Wu sent me this photograph that she found online:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (7)

Slurring and blurring

Something seemed amiss from the very first words of this video:

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (1)

Shandong vernacular, then and now

A week ago, Julie Lee made this interesting comment on Language Log:

…when I studied Yuan dynasty drama and had books from the library, my husband (a physicist) picked them up to read and was amazed at the 13th century dialogue. "That's just the way we spoke at home in Shandong", he exclaimed. He grew up in Tengxian County*, Shandong, and went to school in Qingdao. I couldn't understand his Shandong speech. I too was amazed that Chinese colloquial speech (in Shandong) lasted from the 13th century till the 20th century — 700 years. The dialogue in Yuan drama was popping with lively expressions.

[*Likely the birthplace of the populist, egalitarian, pragmatic, empirical, scientific minded philosopher, Mo Zi / Micius (ca. 470-391 BC.)]

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (6)

Scammers and swindlers with accents

The focus of this post is the nature and modus operandi of the piànzi 騙子 ("swindler; scammer").

According to this article in Chinese, scammers do not speak good Mandarin because having an "accent" enables them to carry out target screening.  Such an argument may seem like a bit of a stretch, but let's see how this supposedly works out through the eyes of two Mandarin speaking PRC citizens who have been the intended victims of the schemes of such piànzi 騙子, who pose as representing banks and other financial institutions, public security bureaus, and so forth.

I

The article suggests that there are three reasons why phone scammers speak in strong topolect accents rather than standard Mandarin:1. Accent serves as a "mechanism of filtration", because those who are not sensitive enough to non-Mandarin accents and who can't recognize what is or is not Mandarin are more prone to fraud. 2. The scammers are simply not capable of speaking standard Mandarin given the current situation of Mandarin popularization in China. The scammers are more likely to be unschooled, and they usually share the same accent. 3. It is because of the high illiteracy rate in China that many people can't tell frauds from reliable phone calls made by authentic institutions.

Read the rest of this entry »

Comments (12)