18 September 2013

A Personal Dialect

We spend a lifetime acquiring a dialect that is influenced by the sounds, phrases, and pronunciations we hear in the places we live. How does our dialect compare to that of our American peers?

I completed an NC State University Dialect Quiz to learn how my way of speaking compares with other speakers of American English.

This map is a data visualization of the similarity of my personal dialect with the dialects of American English as measured by data from the 2003 Harvard Dialect Survey.

This "heat map" corresponds remarkably well to the places I have lived, or have spent significant time:
  • New Jersey Age 0-17 
  • Montana Age 17-22 
  • Minnesota Age 22-present 


Dear DNC

Dear DNC,
  We want our peace signs back.
The 60s
I am a person without a political home. The political landscape in the United States is a turgid cesspool. Elected representatives openly shill for big money at the peril of an overwhelming majority of the electorate. Meanwhile the Democratic National Committee incessantly spams us for campaign contributions.

I'm weary.

In a thinly veiled fund-raising questionnaire the DNC asks,
What would you say to another Democrat to inspire them to get involved with or contribute to this organization?
What would I say? I'm running on empty.

In fairness President Obama has been dealt an awful hand:
A nincompoop-infested, right-wing extremist House of Representatives - dishonorable men and women bank-rolled by the highest bidders. 
The President deserves credit for trying to do the right thing. By all reputable accounts, Barack Obama has been a reasonable, consensus-seeking centrist. Who could have predicted how insanely intransigent House Republicans would be?

Sadly the childishly-stubborn and counter-productive behavior exhibited by House Republicans will not deliver a Democratic majority because American voters don't pay attention to public policy. Many American voters are not critical thinkers. Many Americans' opinions are influenced foremost by fear and secondarily by what they perceive to be their self-interest superseding the Common Good. Some American voters allow their opinions to be deftly manipulated by the fact-averse drivel that is broadcast by hate-filled, right-wing media. For an overwhelming majority, day-to-day living is a proposition of lose-lose and lose some more...
after corporations automate or outsource your job and fudge-pack your sorry ass into poverty.
There is not much for progressives to get charged up about. The rich fleece the middle class and the poor get third-world poorer. Income inequity grows unabated.

I am unsure how we turn the tide. I suppose the Democrats could use more stalwarts like Elizabeth Warren or Bernie Sanders.

I would like Democrats to focus more on JOBS and much, much less on elective military incursions into global civil wars and much, much less on electronic snooping into the private communications of its citizens.