Does Cascadia have a unique linguistic legacy as well as a unique dialect? Historically I would say yes. When you look at the lingustic history of the region and at the use of the dominant language with its unique elements I would say yes there is a distinct Cascadian English.
Which is very 'Copacetic'
"Chinook, for a century the International Language of the Pacific Coast, from Northern California to Alaska, from the Pacific Ocean to the Rocky Mountains." ~J.M.R. Le Jeune's "Chinook Rudiments"
Le Jeune, J.M.R. (May 3 1924)
When I lived in Eastern Europe as well as in southern Asia my accent was always a question that came up. In Eastern Europe this often came up when Europeans needed a tutor in English. They wanted British speakers for passing grammar tests, but wanted "Americans" for conversational English. American accents were en vogue. One friend of mine one evening at a restaruant asked me in a thick sounding British accent "ok what kind of accent do I have American or Brit?" I replied "You have a British accent" in which he responded "Bloody hell!" Another friend from Britain (who loved harassing Americans for their accents) was once in a conversation with me when i pointed out that in a BCC production on the history of English mentioned that the Pacific NorthWest accent was the closing "living" pronounciation to original Shakespearean English. Tim's comeback (with what to me sounded more like an Irish accent) to that was with a huge grin on his face was "that is because your people have not evolved". But meeting other Europeans back then who had English teachers from Boston and Texas could not figure out my accent. Which was ok with me since I often tried to pass myself off as a Scandinavian or German. Even years ago in Portland friends that were not originally from Cascadia would often say "you are European right? German or some Slav?" I would find it to be a compliment at frist because generally I can not stand most American accents (especially southern, Texan or the nasally urban east). Sorry if I insulted anyone about that.
But Cascadians raised in this region do have an unique accent. Actually we tend to have the accent that the corporate media use to cherish to the point that the big media syndicates would send reporters, anchor persons and pseudo-meteorologists to be groomed for future mass consumption to Portland and Seattle. This was done to get rid of their midwest Scandinavian influenced accents or especially the southern drawl that is often interpeted as a sign of "stupidity".
I do believe there is an intentional suppression of an uniqueness of Pacific NorthWest accent or dialect by outsiders who want to claim anything west has no unique culture or history. That American nationalism would "white-wash" all the Pacific NorthWest (or NorthEast Pacific or Cascadia) as white American settlers waiting for Manifest Destiny to take hold from "sea to sea" and hence editing out of the Cascadian narrative countless people, cultures and historical events.
"Those who control the past, control the future; Those who control the future, control the present; Those who control the present, control the past."~ 1984, George Orwell
I have posted articles about this in the past and how Chinook Jargon was heavily influential in creating an unique Cascadian English. I have strongly suggested that we should use Chinook Jargon as another linguistic reservoir (as we often do with French, Greek, Latin and other languages when we lack a word or a special essense of the situation).
So with all that said here is some new (and one not so new) articles with URLs:
Do You Speak Cascadian?
Take the test:
"Say 'caught' and 'cot' out loud. If you're a true Northwest speaker, the words will sound identical."
Do you say "pail" or "bucket"? If you're a true Northwest speaker, you say "bucket."
Is your voice "creaky" or "breathy"? Northwesterners sound creaky (whatever that means).
That's all according to a University of Washington linguist, who goes on to say, "Everyone thinks the Pacific Northwest is too young a region to have our own dialect. It's discrimination."
Friday, May 20, 2005
Contrary to belief, local linguists say Northwest has distinctive dialect
By TOM PAULSON
SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER
Listen for the creaky voice, the strong "s" and the "low-back merger."
Most language experts believe the Pacific Northwest has no distinctive voice, no particular style or dialect. But some local linguists think that's wrong -- or at least a long-standing academic prejudice that deserves a good challenge.
Jennifer Ingle, a 27-year-old Ballard native and student of language at the University of Washington, is one of them.
"Language is part of our identity," said Ingle. Just as the Scandinavian heritage of Ballard distinguishes it from the rest of Seattle, she said, the evolution of language in the Northwest has progressed to the point where it can be distinguished from the rest of the country.
The question for the experts now appears to be whether our version of the English language has evolved enough to be considered a separate dialect.
"Linguists have generally assumed that the West is one dialect region," said Alicia Beckford Wassink, a UW professor of linguistics and mentor to Ingle.
"That may have been the case in the 1800s, when the West was being settled and there was a mixing of dialects among all the immigrants," said Wassink. But there's plenty of evidence now, she said, to suggest this region could have its own distinctive dialect.
Ingle decided a year ago to study her own neighborhood for evidence of local dialect. To some extent, she said, growing up in Ballard contributed to her interest in language.
"I used to hear people in my neighborhood speaking Norwegian," said Ingle, noting that despite her family's Scottish heritage, one of her favorite foodstuffs is lefse -- a Nordic flatbread made from potatoes.
But Ingle's study of language in Ballard was not aimed at identifying any of the neighborhood's Nordic influences. Participants were not asked to say, "Yah, sure, ya betcha." Rather, Ballard was selected as representative of the region because it is one of the oldest communities in the state, with a well-established population of native speakers.
"All the participants were born in Seattle and grew up in Ballard," said Ingle. She focused just on variation in vowel sounds because that is what most determines the different pronunciations in spoken American English.
Still, it should be noted that when Ingle presented her findings this week, it happened to be on the same day Ballard was celebrating Norwegian Constitution Day, May 17. Her study of Northwest speech in Ballard was presented in Vancouver, B.C., at the annual meeting of the Acoustical Society of America.
Among the findings: Many locals, especially women, speak in what experts call "creaky voice"; we've done away with a particular vowel used by Easterners; we really like to emphasize the "s" in words; we're not Californian and we're not Canadian.
Other determinants of dialect include differences in vocabulary and grammar, added Wassink, which are also being looked at in other linguistic studies at the UW.
"The Northwest is especially interesting because we have had almost nothing but immigration," Wassink said. "And there hasn't been as much racial or ethnic segregation as in the East. For a linguist, it's a very interesting place."
So, why do so many women talk creaky here? What's that mean anyway?
"Bill Clinton is a good example of creaky," said Ingle. Clinton's folksy speech, in which his voice sounds both scratchy and relaxed, is the opposite of "breathy" voicing, she said.
In the Northwest, Ingle's study indicates creaky voicing is popular -- especially among women. Breathy voicing, which in extreme form sounds like Marilyn Monroe's birthday song for JFK, is not big in the Northwest.
Wassink said the local popularity of creaky voicing could be how we compensate for another feature of our speech style. We've stopped using one vowel. Linguists work with 15 vowel sounds to describe spoken American English and we only use 14 of them.
Say "caught" and "cot" out loud. If you're a true Northwest speaker, the words will sound identical. Linguists call this the "low-back merger" because we've merged these two vowel sounds. On much of the East Coast, these same words will sound different. "Creaking is a way of making those distinctions that are being lost," Wassink said. Just as Bostonians tend to compensate in their speech for removing the "r" from many words, she said, we might speak creaky to compensate for refusing to use both vowels.
Another piece of evidence has to do with how Californians do something known as "fronting the vowel," Ingle said. This is considered standard to Western dialect and occurs when a speaker pronounces "rude" as "ri-ood" or "move" as "mi-oove."
"It's pretty funny sounding, actually," said Ingle, perhaps betraying a slight Northwest bias against all things Californian.
Native Northwest speakers do not do this, she said. If anything, they sound more Canadian. But she also tested this notion and looked for spoken practices here known as the "Canadian Shift" and "Canadian Raising."
In the Canadian Shift, speakers "retract" vowels -- making "bad" sound more like "bod." In Canadian Raising, speakers raise the first part of a diphthong (when one vowel merges into another) such as making the word "stout" into something more like "stah-oot."
Ingle found little evidence to support that Northwest speakers were adopting these Canadian pronunciation patterns.
She was interested to discover that Northwest speakers appear to put such strong emphasis on the "s" in words, but she drew no conclusions. Her focus for this study was on vowels, after all, not consonants.
Wassink, Ingle and Richard Wright, director of the UW Linguistics Phonetics Lab and also a co-author on the Ingle study, are working on a number of fronts to see if there is evidence of a true Pacific Northwest dialect. Wright was still in Vancouver yesterday, having just presented a report on the Alaskan native language Deg Xinag, used in the lower Yukon.
The UW linguists need to build their case with more than varying pronunciations. They are looking at differences in vocabulary -- we say "bucket" and they say "pail" -- as well as grammatical variations -- such as dropping the past tense marker, where they say "canned fish" and we sometimes say "can fish."
"It can be very technical," Wassink said.
Ingle agreed, noting that her study of speech in Ballard involved only 14 people yet took countless hours of recording and analysis. The paper summarizing her results looks a lot like a mathematics report, including charts mapping variations in vowel sounds and digital "sonograms" that allowed her to isolate specific frequencies contained in sounds.
It's a big job, demonstrating that Northwest speak exists, but somebody's gotta do it.
"It's just been this assumption that's never been tested," Wassink said. "Everyone thinks the Pacific Northwest is too young a region to have our own dialect. It's discrimination."
P-I reporter Tom Paulson can be reached at 206-448-8318 or email@example.com
World Languages - Klahowya, Sikhs! 500 Words Unite the Pacific Northwest
Author: Robert Henderson
Published on: November 10, 1998
In the days when a traveller's well-being depended on the hospitality of strangers, a hearty "Klahowya!" opened doors all over the Pacific Northwest. For a century and a half, the Chinook Jargon bound together vastly different cultures in an area encompassing seven American states and two Canadian provinces. Virtually extinct today, vestiges of this hard-working pidgin persist in colourful expressions and place names.
Pacific Coast tribes invented Jargon before European contact, probably around 1730. Whites later called their trade lingo "Chinook" Jargon, because Chinook tribes were the first coastal peoples to trade with the newcomers on a contract basis. This label was often shortened to "Chinook," a source of much confusion. The native languages of Chinookan-speaking First Peoples are as complete, as complex and as evocative as any true language. By contrast, Jargon has only rudimentary grammar and a 500-word vocabulary. (Some authorities claim as many as 800 words.) Jargon must not therefore be compared to true Chinookan languages.
The entry of the great fur companies into the Northwest economy brought Eastern tribal tongues, English, Canadian French and even Hawaiian into Jargon. The mountain men promulgated Jargon far afield, to such distant points as Alberta, Alaska and California. As Jargon settled into new climes it inevitably picked up local vocabulary and pronunciation, to the point that speakers from distant edges of Jargon's empire must have had some difficulty understanding one another. Jargon's limited vocabulary presented another challenge. In practice, speakers used sign language, facial expression and vocal intonation to convey subtleties. This was precise enough for trade, but US courts have ruled that the terms of some treaties drawn up in the last century were not clear to all signatories, since they were negotiated in Jargon.
To circumvent this problem, speakers pressed poetic license. A touching example is "opitsah sikhs," or knife friend. A backwoodsman survives by his knife, therefore his "opitsah sikhs" is someone he can't live without. It might mean partner, best friend, or lover. Electricity has been expressed as "kwass saghalie piah kopa lope," or tame sky-fire [lightning] in a rope. Jargon is therefore concept-based, relying on cultural references more than true languages generally do.
In its waning years, Jargon became heavily anglicised. Uniquely Native grammar and pronunciation faded. Few trained linguists devoted attention to the subject, so much Jargon pronunciation and syntax have been lost to history. Melville Jacobs, a University of Washington anthropologist, is an important exception. Jacobs traveled the Northwest in the 1930s, transcribing into Americanist phonetics stories elderly Natives related in Jargon. Jacobs' monograph provides rare, authentic examples of living pronunciation, grammar and syntax, with regional differences intact.
Echoes of Jargon are still caught from time to time in Northwest speech. Longtime residents call the bay "saltchuck", or sea water. "Skookum" (strong) appears in the complaint, "My old pickup isn't skookum enough to take that hill." Kaleetan (arrow), Illahee (homeland) and tiny Hiyu (great big) are three of several Washington ferries with Jargon names. Alaskans call newcomers "cheechakos," from the Jargon for new and come. A few Jargon words have even gone continental. Hooch (bad liquor) is short for "hootchanoo," and "tolo," the girls-ask-boys high school dance, means "to take control."
Jargon is an important tool to understanding Northwest history. For example, Washington's one-word state motto, is often translated "by and by." In reality, "alki" is an untranslatable concept-term referring to the future. The map preserves other insights into the past, such as:
Tyee, Alaska. "Chief, head, most important."
Cultus Lake, BC. "Worthless."
Malakwa, BC. "Mosquito."
Tumwater, Washington. "Falls." Refers to the Deschutes River cascades. Note that "Deschutes Falls, Tumwater" translates "Falls Falls, Falls."
Tatoosh Range, Washington. "Breasts, udders."
Klipsan Beach, Washington. "Deep sun," i.e. sunset.
Lolo Pass, between Idaho and Montana. "Carry" or "load up."
Sitkum, Oregon. "Halfway."
Nesika Beach, Oregon. "Ours."
The Internet, friend of embattled languages, hasn't passed over modest old Jargon, either. When my grandfather died many years ago, I feared I might be the only Jargon speaker left on the planet. Now, three home pages are dedicated to preserving and promoting Jargon, each linked to dictionaries, fellow Jargon scholars and other resources. Web presence has even led to a Jargon convention in Mission, BC, in September. Who knows? Maybe the old girl's up for a new lease on life.
Jargon opens a window on cultures since badly disrupted. How much richer we might be if we understood the subtle wisdom in the universal Jargon salutation that, like aloha, also means goodbye. Klahowya.
This article available from Suite 101 World Languages: www.suite101.com/welcome.cfm/world_languages
Wiki "Grunge speak":
Grunge speak was a hoax created by Megan Jasper, a sales representative for Sub Pop Records. Under pressure from a reporter for The New York Times who wanted to know if grunge fans had their own slang, Jasper, 25 at the time, told the reporter a set of made-up on-the-spot slang terms that she claimed were associated with the Seattle grunge scene in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The information given by Jasper would appear in the sidebar of a November 15, 1992 feature article of the Times. The sidebar, titled "Lexicon of Grunge: Breaking the Code", had also mistakenly claimed that Jasper was working for Caroline Records.
In truth, there was no particular slang language used in the Seattle grunge scene, or in any other grunge scene at the time. While some members of the grunge scene may have used other forms of slang (such as those that have become commonly used in the English language), many felt no need to create their own to go along with grunge. Many had even resented the assumption by the Times that they even had a slang language, as well as their claim that it was "coming soon to a high school or mall near you".
The article was proven to be a hoax by Thomas Frank of The Baffler, a journal of cultural criticism. In it, he revealed that Jasper had purposely misled the Times as well as the British magazine Sky as a prank. Jasper, known to be sarcastic, had been sick of the excessive amount of questions that reporters were asking people involved in the Seattle grunge scene, and thus pulled the prank to get back at them for their superfluous questioning.
The Times demanded that Frank fax over an apology for claiming the Times had printed false information, believing that it was Frank that was the hoaxer. Frank instead sent a letter standing by the story and explaining that "when The Newspaper of Record goes searching for the Next Big Thing and the Next Big Thing piddles on its leg, we think that's funny." Frank (as well as many grunge fans) had considered the article to be part of an attempt by mainstream culture to co-opt the grunge scene and felt that the Times had gotten what they deserved.
Shortly after the release of The Baffler's story, some people in Seattle began selling and wearing t-shirts with the words "lamestain" and "harsh realm" printed in the same font as the title of the Times. The words never did catch on as actual slang, but served the purpose of lampooning the Times for a short while. One of the terms, "harsh realm", was used as the title of a short-lived science-fiction television series in 1999. The events of Jasper's prank would also be documented in the 1996 film Hype!, a documentary about the grunge scene of the early 1990s.
Grunge speak words
During the interview, Jasper made up the following terms and their definitions:
* bloated, big bag of blotation - drunk
* bound-and-hagged - staying home on Friday or Saturday night
* cob nobbler - loser
* dish - desirable guy
* fuzz - heavy wool sweaters
* harsh realm - bummer
* kickers - heavy boots
* lamestain - uncool person
* plats - platform shoes
* rock on - a happy goodbye
* score - great
* swingin' on the flippety-flop - hanging out
* tom-tom club - uncool outsiders (possibly inspired by the new wave band Tom Tom Club)
* wack slacks - old ripped jeans
* Frank, Thomas. "Harsh Realm, Mr. Sulzberger!" (Winter/Spring 1993). The Baffler.
* Marin, Rick. "Grunge: A Success Story" (November 15, 1992). New York Times. Section 9, Page 1.
o featuring "Lexicon of Grunge: Breaking the Code"
* Pray, D., Helvey-Pray Productions. Hype!. 1996. Republic Pictures.
* "Those Cob Nobblers at the N.Y. Times" (March 5, 1993). Globe and Mail. Section C1.
* Windolf, Jim. "Off the Record" (March 1, 1993). New York Observer.
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