Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Unloining to Tawk 
Like a Noo Yawkuh

If ya evuh knew ennywun who toldja tuh flush de turlet beefaw ya left da batroom, aw dat ya awta go ta choich on Sundays, aw said Octobuh was de toime to put earl in de foinace, you might find dis otticle amusing. It never ceases to amaze me how dese joynalists love to tell us things most of our parents loined beefaw we awl wuh bawn. 

Once upon a toime, most peepull wuh awayuh dat dese low class reejunnul acksents wuh a voitchooal taboo if yuh hoped tuh get anywheah. Loining to shed dem was pawt of being propully edjickayted.

Dat went faw hick suthin’ an’ hayurd-nasal midwusturn twangs too, wharr peepull bayre down hayard on thair airs, have bust frunds, and Burrock Obomma is refoid to as “the pruzzident.” I guess it ain’t a bad ideah to ishoo a reminduh aftah awl. Crappy lowuh class acksents awta be shunned by anyone in public loife. Presoive it if ya wunna, but keep it home wit de famlee wheah it beelawngs. It sets a louzee exampull ta heah it on TV, in da mooveeze, an' espeshully frumm de flaw of de sennit and da house of represennadives. Cheeze Looweeze!

From De Noo Yawk Toimes

(edited and emended by FreeThinke)

Michael Schoenstein always believed it made him more charming, an endearing characteristic integral to his identity. But, finally, after too many people mocked him, he began seeing a therapist.

Patrick Mullin had the same problem. “People were complaining,” he said. He started weekly therapy sessions 11 years ago and still goes about once a month.
Lauren LoGiudice sought help for similar symptoms. “I would have sessions and I started to cry,” she said.
In all three cases, therapists reached the same discomfiting conclusion.
“I was diagnosed with a New York accent,” Mr. Schoenstein said.

The classic New York accent is not as distinct or as prevalent as it once was, but there are plenty of native “Noo Yawkers” who not only have it but consider it a curse.
“It humbled me,” Mr. Schoenstein, a television reporter at WPIX-TV, said of his diagnosis.
Those who seek professional help to conquer their accents make similar complaints, like, “ ‘People don’t understand what I’m saying,’ ” said Sam Chwat, who is considered the dean of speech therapists. “ ‘I’m stigmatized by the way I speak.’ ‘I’m tired of people imitating or ridiculing the way I speak, or saying I sound “cute.” ’ ‘My accent seems to imply negative characteristics.’ ”
Miss LoGiudice’s accent didn’t matter when she was growing up in Howard Beach, a heavily Italian neighborhood in Queens where dropping r’s in words like doctor (doctuh) and water (wawtuh) just happens to be the way many people talk.
“I grew up with people who could be the cast of ‘Jersey Shore,’ ” Miss LoGiudice, 27, said. It was not until she got to Wesleyan University that she realized how much her speech pigeonholed her. And as a young actress who is “tall and Anglican-looking,” she worried her accent would be a roadblock. “If I had looked like Meadow Soprano,” Miss LoGiudice said, “I wouldn’t have had to worry about my accent.”

The accent was rarely an asset but has become more of a handicap in an era of globalization, when people and jobs are more mobile and a more generic identity can be seen as an advantage (think Michael R. Bloomberg shedding his Boston twang).
“A New York accent makes you sound ignorant,” said Lynn Singer, a speech therapist who works with Miss LoGiudice. “People listen to the accent, but not to what you’re saying.”
Another of Ms. Singer’s clients, Alan Steinfeld, who was born in Brooklyn, agreed. He hosts a New Age program on local access cable television channels in New York that is also streamed over the Internet, and he fears his accent prevents him from appealing to a wider audience. “People put you in a category when they hear a particular accent and don’t hear the message,” Mr. Steinfeld, 52, said.
The online Yellow Pages includes more than a dozen listings for “New York accent reduction” specialists, and searching “New York accent” and reduction or elimination on Google generates about 4,000 hits. The process typically takes at least several months, with as many as three sessions a week, and can cost from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.
Mr. Chwat described his school, the Sam Chwat Speech Center in Manhattan, as the largest practice of therapists specializing in accents, with six licensed speech therapists and more than 100 clients a week.
“I have seen a notable rise in the number of self-referred corporate execs who are trying to retain their competitive edge within their corporations, be clearly understood by customers or clients who typecast or stigmatize them by their speech patterns,” Mr. Chwat said.
Ms. Singer, who runs Voiceworks, starts her sessions by working on the sounds a client finds the most difficult to pronounce. She works with clients on proper breathing, pronouncing vowels that use the back of the tongue and conscious sound substitution that replace “glottal clicks and swallowed vowels” until it becomes routine — a laborious process that takes months, even years.
Some clients also find it unnerving. “I felt if I lost my accent I’d lose part of who I was,” Miss LoGiudice said. “Almost no one thinks I’m from Queens anymore.”
The New York accent – a distinctive amalgam of Yiddish, Italian, Irish, Polish, and German  is now infused with black and Hispanic dialects and a Caribbean lilt — that was identified at least as far back as the early 19th century. In 1896, E. H. Babbitt wrote about “The Language of the Lower Classes in New York and Vicinity.” 

In 1928, when radio became a factor in a national political campaign for the first time, the president of CBS wrote unflatteringly that Gov. Alfred E. Smith of New York pronounced the word first as “foist” and toilet as "terlet." A 1940 study by two New York University professors found that the New York accent was the most widely disliked style of speech in the United States. And in 1966, William Labov, a sociolinguist, identified what he called “linguistic self-hatred in New York.”
Of course, plenty of actors still turn to instructors to teach them the accent, and feigning one can sometimes be useful. “Some people fake New York accents when they work on Wall Street because they want to come off as tougher,” said Lynn Bo, a speech therapist in Bayside, Queens.
But Edith Bunker (played by Jean Stapleton), Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini) and Fran Fine (Fran Drescher) notwithstanding, few New Yorkers these days would take naturally to the chorus of a popular 1946 song by Bobby Gregory: “Who is de toughest goil in dis whole woild? Moitle from Toidy-Toid and Toid.”
“That has vanished without a trace,” said George Jochnowitz, a professor emeritus of linguistics at City University’s College of Staten Island.
That type of stereotypical accent, which survives mostly in black-and-white movies and television reruns, has been diluted by the influx of what linguists describe as Standard American English speakers from across the country, along with a decline in the city’s white working-class population, whose members, along with low-class Jews, tended to have some of the thickest accents.
Still, you don’t have to be a speech therapist to identify New Yorkers by their accents, to hear the dropped “r” in park and car, or the cryptic luncheon invitation “Jeetchet?”
“The accent still exists in places like Staten Island or Bensonhurst or the Rockaways,” says the writer Pete Hamill, one of several New Yorkers interviewed for a documentary by Heather Quinlan called “If These Knishes Could Talk.” “However, it has changed in that it’s no longer the ‘dese, dem and dose’ and the ‘Toidy-Toid and Toid’ that we think of.”
Mr. Chwat, 57, who grew up in Brooklyn and lives in Great Neck, N.Y., said that public speaking used to be part of the public-school curriculum, and that passing a test in oral proficiency was once a requirement to graduate from the city’s public colleges.
Along with a general decline in standards in most areas there is no longer direct instruction for public speaking, good voice production and proper diction. We're not supposed to notice low-class, obnoxiously uncultivated accents today, and unfortunately there is not supposed to be any stigma attached to speaking with an accent anymore. It used to be something ambitious, culturally aware people were ashamed of and sought to shed.
Thankfully, that trend appears to be returning. Ugly is ugly and there's just no running away from it.
Mr. Schoenstein, 26, the television reporter, grew up in Bergen County, N.J., and he said he always thought his New York regional accent was “endearing" because New York is a great place to be from, but if you ever want to work outside New York, it may put you in a box.”
Mr. Mullin, 60, a tax and criminal lawyer who practices in Manhattan and New Jersey, said he grew tired of going to legal training seminars where fellow lawyers complained about not understanding him. “I didn’t want to be boxed in regionally,” he said. “I wanted to be a clear communicator. My accent got in the way.”
Miss LoGiudice said her weekly sessions with Ms. Singer for a year and a half, along with exercises at home, had already produced results — a role as an international model in a film being released next year.
“If I hadn’t done the accent work, I would have never been cast in this film,” she said. “Lynn’s credo is quite accurate: Change your voice, change your life.


  1. Fran Drescher drives me crazy.
    Mark Wahlberg, not so much.
    Boston vs. New York maybe. :-)

  2. Richard Feynman had a very distinct "Noo Yawk" accent, using "dese, dems, and doze" in his speech, having grown up in Far Rockaway. But that never interfered with his distinguished career in science, nor did it prevent his winning a Nobel Prize in physics. In fact, his accent was quite endearing. I guess one has to weigh the accent with the person's intellect. Richard Feynman did just fine, accent and all.

    "Feynman’s accent, one of America’s more stigmatized, becomes a strength rather than a weakness. It is a sad fact that we easily underestimate people because of their accents. But in Feynman’s case, this prejudice becomes an advantage: his students are perhaps disarmed, feeling they are talking to a man on the street rather than a stuffy professor."


  3. Bahston accents are even more annoying.

  4. Frambooie: "Bahston"

    That is not how a Bostonian would pronounce his city's name.

  5. Go listen to that internet radio program where Ducky called in. That's what I'm talking about.

    Mr. FreeThinke,
    You should do a post on the Sarah Palin of the left, Wendy "Rip 'em from the womb" Davis. Speaking of accents, she does it with a light Texas one, which really makes it a hoot.

  6. Being smart has absolutely nothing to do with it, Ms Shaw, -- as the article amply indicates. It's a matter of aesthetics.

    Unless you are an absolute dolt with a tin ear, which I know you are not, Cockney English is vulgar, and frankly hideous compared to Oxford English. The NOO YAWK accent is impossibly ugly. So is Black Ghetto Jive talk.

    There are high class and low class versions of most regional dialects some more pleasant and acceptable than others. High Southern for instance is acceptable, low Southern is frankly despicable.

    My grandparents and relatives from Massachusetts spoke a patrician style of Bostonian English which was highly distinctive but by no means grating on the ear. Low-class New England accents are just as objectionable as Brooklynese, Ghetto Jive Talk, and other forms of NOO YAWK TAWK.

    Try listening to a performance of Romeo and Juliet, The Importance of Being Earnest or Private Lives performed in a thick New York-Yiddish accent -- or "Redneck Hickphonics" for that matter -- or even the harsh tones produced by vulgar folk from the Midwest like Hillary Clinton -- and then get back to me, Ms Shaw.

    If you don't see the point by then, there's no point in our discussing the subject any further.

    The current PC trend to regard absolutely everything as "Equal" and "Acceptable" is nothing more than a dissolution of standards and a mark of cultural degeneration and eventual disintegration.

    The fact is that English as spoken and written today is with rare exceptions utterly deplorable.

    Anyone who doesn't think so is part of The Problem.

    A while back you sent me an amusing article on the subject of SHITTY MUSIC -- so named in the article repeatedly, which I thought quite funny.

    Well, the very same things could -- and should -- be said about SHITTY ACCENTS. I don't care how many college professors, and Nobel or Pulitzer prize winners exhibit these signs of ignorance and poor breeding. A SHITTY ACCENT is even SHITTIER when it comes from the mouths of those who ought to know better.

    Of yes, Virginia, SHITTY ACCENTS do, indeed, exist.

    Doesn't it annoy you when NOO YAWKERS refer to your town as BAWSTUN?

    It SHOULD!

  7. I think it's probably a mistake to fixate so much on other people's accents, as long as it's clear.

  8. Freethinke strikes me as the kind of guy who thinks Olivier with a strict Shakespearean delivery should have played the lead in The Friends of Eddie Coyle over Mitchum.

  9. Ducky,

    Please don't be such an ass. You know perfectly well I don't think any such thing. I have much too fine an ear for that.

    Both you and Ms Shaw -- and our friend from across the pond too -- should pay closer attention to what I actually do say, instead of projecting your post-Modern fantasies, politically motivated assumptions, and generally inaccurate surmises onto a topic I have introduced.

    Besides, the article -- admittedly edited, embellished, and slightly augmented by me -- was taken from the pages of none-other than The New York Times.

    There is a very broad range of speech patterns I find agreeable. Acting, of course, is an entirely different matter.

    I'm not so fond of Olivier's speech as I am of several other British actors and actresses -- Claude Rains, Edmund Gwenn, Ian Hunter, Peter Finch, Richard Todd, Stewart Granger, Derek Jacobi, Greer Garson, Gladys Cooper, Deborah Kerr, Judi Dench, Eileen Atkins high among them.

    British thespians are far better trained than Americans as a rule, and can do any kind of accent -- high, low, middle, north country, Scots, Irish, etc. to perfection. The late Jessica Tandy was better at portraying American Southern woman than most American Southern women would have been, themselves. She created the role of Blanche Dubois, a performance I regret having missed, and was absolutely magnificent in Driving Miss Daisy and Fried Green Tomatoes late in her career.

    Olivier, was superb as an aged German Jew who survived the war in Europe, and became an avid Nazi Hunter with none other than Josef Mengele in his sites in The Boys from Brazil. His accent was not only impeccable it was uncanny.

    If Olivier had wanted to portray an American, he countless could have done high lass, low class and middle class versions of New York, Boston, Chicago, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Texas, and Alabama cracker with equal aplomb.

    There are many American actors and actresses whose voice and diction I admire greatly. Few of them achieved what they produced on screen without great effort and considerable training, however.

  10. Our accent definitely gives us away. I am frequently asked, "So,
    are you from the upper Midwest?".
    Haven't lived there for 35 years.
    Whatever accent the old 'Bowery Boys' movies featured, I associated at a young age as
    'New York'. ..probably would have thought of Feynman the same way,
    but read a lot of his work and never heard him talk. I also am one of those who hears very young
    British children speaking and think they are precociously erudite.

  11. PART ONE

    I LOVED your clips, Ms Shaw. Thank you for bringing "rhoticity" into my expanding vocabulary.

    Pronouncing and emphasizing "R's" has always been considered bad form by us Northeastern Elite and would-be Elite types who were raised in a decidedly Anglophilic environment.

    Arthur C. Clarke may been have a great thinker, but ro my ears his north country British accent made him sound like bumpkin. I know the north country accents have been generally despised and eschewed by educated Britons. Even when accepted, they have never been consciously emulated unless for theatrical purposes.

    When I first heard Clarke, I thought he sounded much more like a Midwesterner than an Englishman.

    When we moved to Illinois for a brief period in my very young years, I found the way most people there over-emphasized their "R's" and mispronounced certain vowels [they say "bust" when they mean "best" and "pruzzident" when they mean "president," and "playzhure" and "mayzhure" when they mean pleasure and measure, and "bar" instead of "bear," etc.] and generally produce loud "braying" tones with a singsong delivery.

    Midwesterners are decidedly rhotic speakers.

    In parts of New England it's common to ADD "R's" where they don't properly exist -- at least among the lower classes. Thus you hear exclamations like "The very idear of pronouncing 'R's' in the middle of a word turns my stomach."

    I have read that Ralph Waldo Emerson, the great essayist and poet, changed his wife's name from Lydia to Lydian, because he could not bear to hear her addressed as "Liddier" -- apparently the common pronunciation at the time.


  12. PART TWO

    NOO YAWK TAWK is certainly hideous, but nowhere near as bad as the way the common people speak in Australia. It's even worse than the London Cockney it so closely resembles. Not only do they substitute "I's" for "A's" every chance they get, they substitute "A's" for "E's." And say "OY" when they mean "Eye," and the diphthong "AYOW" instead of "OW."

    So you might hear something that sounds like "Oy'd loike to tyke a roide dayown to say the baytch," when they vainly imagine they are telling you "I'd like to a ride down to see the beach."

    It may surprise you to learn that I too found Professor Feynmann appealing and charismatic. He has a great booming baritone voice with a basically good sound. His diction IS deplorable, of course, but his brisk, confident, forthright manner, his obvious intelligence and enthusiasm are enough to override the deficiency.

    Even so, it's a pity he never took time to correct the flaws in his pronunciation. It would have been an easy job for a man of his intelligence, and well worth whatever effort it might have taken. One of the prominent New Yorkers I REALLY despise is Martin Scorsese. Every time he opens his mouth I writhe in indignation.

    By the way Professor Feynmann sounds exactly like Art Carney's portrayal of Ed Norton on The Honeymooners. Did you or anyone else catch the resemblance? It's uncanny -- and incredibly ironic.

    As for GBS, I have always found him rather endearing, but then I have something of a penchant for crusty old, overly-opinionated individuals who think a bit too well of themselves, and am willing to forgive men of true genius almost anything.

    George Bernard Shaw was certainly all of that and more. He was an extroverted eccentric in the Grand Manner -- what a ham! I love hearing him talk and wish he'd been filmed more frequently.

    Naturally, I find his politics as despicable as you doubtless find mine and I yours, but very smart people deserve special treatment. I've always believed that, just as I believe in the sanctity of Privilege and never envy or despise those who have more than I in any area be it wealth, intelligence, position or talent.

    His opinion of our Constitution was that of an absolute ass, but that doesn't mean he WAS and ass, an besides, I couldn't care less. His WORK sets him apart and should ensure him a niche in the Literary Hall of Fame forever.

    Ironically, if Shaw had lived long enough to see the fruits his type of political thinking had born, he would be horrified.

  13. " It's a matter of aesthetics."

    Science doesn't care about "aesthetics," except perhaps where a beautiful mathematical proof is concerned. Scientists surely don't care if someone giving a talk on a new theory has a Brooklynese, Bostonian, or a twangy Texas accent.

    That's why I brought up Richard Feynman as an example. He certainly did not speak "elegantly" for the ear. Instead, those who knew what he was talking about [not I, but my husband who has a degree in physics from MIT] heard beauty in what he said.

    Mathematics and Science have a differernt "aesthetic," and it isn't how one "sounds" when one is speaking.

  14. Please read my last two posts, Ms Shaw, and do read them carefully. You are attempting to argue with me along parallel lines.

    This post was ABOUT aesthetics. It was NOT about Science.

    I have great respect for men of Science, especially those capable of original thought. The aesthetics of refined speech, however, are "apples" and the intellectual merits of scienetists are "oranges."

    In my worldview, however, things are not neatly constructed in separate categories that have nothing to do with one another. I believe that all things true stem from One Root and are thus inextricably intertwined and interrelated. So my argument about apples and oranges falls apart in light of my certainty what-I-am-pleased-to all The Tree of Life for sake of convenience has many limbs and branches each capable of producing different fruits, of you will permit the crude analogy.

    The trouble with most of us human beings is a tendency to want things to fit neatly into boxes that contain our preconceived notions, and so we spend a great deal of time rationalizing away whatever doesn't "fit our box" or "feel quite right" to us from our parochial point of view.

    It's entirely possible to be both right and wrong at that same time. I hope you realize that?

  15. Probably because of my upbringing (Southerners on my mother's side although few of them had a notorious drawl), I cannot always understand the words flying out of Noo Yawkuhs' mouths at machine-gun speed. I have no problem understanding a Boston accent, though.

    Now, that accent from Minnesota. Well, that's quite something too. Swedish influence, I guess.

  16. freethinke on Feynman: "it's a pity he never took time to correct the flaws in his pronunciation. It would have been an easy job for a man of his intelligence, and well worth whatever effort it might have taken."

    I wonder from which of his activities he should have diverted his time towards this goal of yours? I don't imagine Feynman wasted much time. Alternatively, you could learn not to (often falsely) assume someone with a regional accent must be a bumpkin. Surely an easy job for a man with your intellectual equipment.

  17. The language spoken by rank and file Australians is the only form of English I find difficult to understand. As I tried to indicate above, they switch all their vowels around to the point where it often sounds like so much gobbledy gook.

    It may seem odd, but I'd much rather hear an educated European speak English than I would most Americans or lower class British. As a rule they produce beautiful vowels with a rounded, resonant musical quality that most Americans lack.

    Most of us either blat or screech, and nearly all of us Americans speak much too loudly. Our tendency to shout at one another even at close range must be the product of the frenetic pace at which most of us live, and of course the degraded nature of our popular culture.

    By the way, what is your position on rhotic speakers? Are you for or against them? ;-)

  18. Jez, you need to improve your skills in reading comprehension at least enough to enable you to respond to what is actually written instead of the fleeting impressions you get from approaching things carelessly with too many assumptions and nowhere near enough curiosity.

  19. Jen Nifer!

    How nice to see you here! I'm sorry to be so late getting back to you. I had no idea who Mark Wahlberg was, so I had to look him up.

    Just got to it a minute or two ago. He's from BOSTON not New York. Seems to have come from a bad lot.

    I'm surprised you'd go for a cocaine-addicted rapper, arrested and jailed for assault and battery who used to be known by the infantile name of Marky Mark.

    That doesn't sound like the YOU I've come to know at all. Does he appeal to you because he's cute looking, which I guess he is to you gals?

    Never having heard him speak, I can't know what he sounds like. He probably has one of those low-class Massachusetts accents.

  20. "There's no accounting for taste"

    That's a famous quotation, and doubtless true, "But taste" -- many will say -- "is purely subjective."

    Perhaps so, but 'taste' is a great deal like pornography, no one can find a satisfactory legal definition for it, but few have any difficulty recognizing it when they see it.

    Vulgarians and their misguided advocates -- the leftists determined to exalt perversity while denigrating norms -- tend to worship rotten taste -- or at least make excuses for it.

    Snobs on the other hand mistake their prejudices for good taste and good judgment, which may or may not be the case, but their opinions tend to be based not on the merits of what they perceive, but on the reputation "the right kind of people" have given it.

    Blind chauvinistic worship of approved icons of superior achievement is as bad -- or worse -- than innocent ignorance, although aping one's betters is certainly preferable to aping the lowest elements --a trend which most regrettably has taken hold in the past few decades as never before.

    Intelligent, sensitive people with strong intellectual curiosity and a well developed sense of humor know the difference between the extremes of good and bad taste, and because they understand what they see and hear to a greater extent than most tend to find and appreciate the good in the broadest possible range of topics.

  21. Thank you, Ms Shaw. I had that in mind all along, of course,

    For anyone further interested in this topic the discussion at


    might prove interesting, instructive, possibly amusing.


  22. Taste is your choice of aesthetic criteria. You can judge a piece according to how well it satisfies a given set of criteria, and that is not subjective. The selection of your preferred criteria is subjective.

    There exist artistic efforts which are so bad, there are no sane, consistent criteria against which it could succeed. So there does exist a concept of "badness", and it can be objective (or at least universal).

    The above applies to ethics, too.

    In art, sometimes you might love something despite its aesthetic failure. Humans are weird. (Hence art, I guess).

  23. FT, I've seen Wahlberg in a few movies, and he's a good actor, in my opinion. I think he still has a mild accent, but it's not offensive.

    The good news is, he's married with four children, and a committed Catholic.

    He's no hero to me, but I do admire that he has turned his life around.

    And yes, he is cute! ;-)

  24. Hi, Jen,

    Well, my grandparents and great aunts and uncles from Massachusetts spoke with a pronounced Boston accent, but it was very genteel, even though they were hardly aristocrats, and had come from the working class.

    My father was born in Massachusetts and raised mostly in New York City, but he had no accent at all. Neither did my mother, who was the last of eight children produced by immigrant parents for whom English was a second language.

    Several of mother's siblings spoke with "The Accent" but several did not. How this could be, I don't know, except those who were musically inclined may have been innately aware that the every day speech they heard all around them was very ugly and likely to keep them in an inferior social position if something were not done about it.

    They all took singing lessons, which tends to aid in the production of good, resonant, agreeable sounding vowels, and the public schools offered what-were-then-called ELOCUTION courses.

    A hundred years ago, people in the lower socio-economic orders were NOT encouraged to accept themselves as they were. Improvement was expected and demanded of students at every level. The brighter ones took advantage of ever opportunity to refine and polish their potential.

    As always tends to happen with a natural process of societal evolution, "the cream rose to the top." ;-)

    Today government interference has provided myriad perverse incentives to remain ignorant, uncouth, untutored, unrefined, passive and dependent.

    My immediate ancestors fought hard o achieve whatever degree of advancement they attained, and they openly DESPISED Progressivism, which they regarded as just a cute name for Communism.

    They way they lived their lives proved they were perfectly correct in their perceptions, of course.

    All of this is about learning to admire and emulate the values and behaviors of one's betters -- i.e. "upward mobility." It is NOT about learning to despise one's parents and one's background if one has risen from the lower orders. That would be ignoble.

    We're supposed, I believe, to take the raw material of our lives and spend our time trying to make the most of it according to the dictates of heart and conscience. It's an entirely positive thing.

  25. PS: I'm inclined to take your word abut Mark Wahlberg. The online short biographies always seem to emphasis the most negatives aspects of their subjects.

    Iconoclasm and extreme cynicism may be the Modern Way with expository writing, but it is even worse than the former attempts to "canonize" the subject and whitewash ny unflattering details.

    Isolated "facts" too often present a simplistic, tendentious view. The Truth is invariably complex, and full of paradoxes.

  26. Ironically, if Shaw had lived long enough to see the fruits his type of political thinking had born, he would be horrified.


    FT, the way I see it is that today is the full blossoming of the Fabian vision. It may have arrived sooner than they has expected, but I think GBS would be patting himself on the back, smirking at the idiocy of the supposed smug "intellectual elite".

    GBS along with other famous Fabians like H. G. Welles, John Maynard Keynes and Bertrand Russell and their cohorts knew more than most people of the day, and even today the future "their heart desired".

  27. I doubt very much that they desired what we are living with today, Waylon.

    Those people were much too classy and above-it-all to be aware of reality as lived by the common people. Their thinking -- like that of most idealistic visionaries who tend to confuse their markedly superior intelligence with Divinity -- was entirely abstract and theoretical. It never occurred to them that their ideas were wholly impracticable.

    Men are not objects to be moved about at will by others of superior intelligence. We are NOT rational creatures. Generally, we are guided by untamed passion and the pleasure principle. Men who imagine themselves "rational" are suffering from a serious delusion akin to mental illness.

    But then, as has oft been said, "genius is akin to madness."

  28. Ft, I doubt very much that you'd find many thinkers in the upper echelons of Fabianism that didn't think that their thoughts were superior to not only the run-of-the-mill schlub in the streets but to very idea of an intellect superior (even a Divinity) to their own would be entirely foreign.

  29. "We're supposed, I believe, to take the raw material of our lives and spend our time trying to make the most of it according to the dictates of heart and conscience."

    I agree. Do you think Feynmann failed to do this?


  30. Jez, you and Ms Shaw -- both being leftists -- can't seem to help but want to change the subject, however innocuous, to one that better emphasizes and supports your political leanings. In typical leftist fashion you do this by attributing fanciful motives to anyone daring to raise the subject in the first place.

    Oh yes you do -- please don't attempt to deny it. It's a very consistent pattern with leftists -- this business of changing the subject or attributing twisted meanings and false implications to whomever raises a subject to which you feel compelled to take exception -- which includes practcally everything worth discussing.

    I have tried to focus attention here on speech patterns relating to regional dialects and how they tend to affect social standing, and both of you want to talk about intellectual development and the extraordinary achievements of one or two geniuses who happen to have accomplished a great deal despite never have learned to transcend the limitations of their background and learn to speak standard English.

    It's as though you insist on comparing chestnuts to avocados, or golf balls to kiwi fruit, etc.

    Your apparent desire to remain in perpetual disagreement-- no matter what -- is an habitual stance.

    In your case it too closely resembles badgering for me not to find it exceedingly tiresome after the first two or three go 'rounds.

    Ms Shaw, whom I count among my friends despite or considerable differences, is less severe, and often shows understanding and some appreciation of my point of view without necessarily capitulating to it.

    Please try to forgive me if I've judged you too harshly.

    I gave my opinion of Professor Feynmann in a paragraph above. If you read it, you would know that I do not have a low opinion of the professor, despite his unfortunate idiosyncratic diction.

    Many of you Brits -- among the educated class -- have an irritating habit of substituting a "W" -- or something perilously close to it - where there should be an "R." The fault is not cinfuned to Britain of course. We hear it in New York the ubiquitous "pwesence" of the obnoxious "Bawbawa Wawtaws" is a good case in point. I guess it could be labeled "labio-rhotic" speech. Elmer Fudd of cartoon fame may still be its most notawious pwacticioner.

    Lisps are another flaw that makes most of us cringe. In the USA the lateral lisp, which substitutes the "SH" sound for a clear, uncontaminated "S" is all too common. Gabby Hayes, if you remember him, wazh notorioush for thish. It becae for him almos a trade make, but no parents wanted hteir children to imitate Gabby Hayzh.

    In Britain the labio-dental lisp in which the "S" is extruded through the upper teeth against the lower lip has given many of is Americans the impression that the British who speak this way are making a deliberate caricature of themselves, but we know that it ain't necessarily so.

    For the record -- and you may take this any way you like -- I happen to like TOMMY ROBINSON, because I empathize with his passion and tend to agree with his nativist feelings, but that does not mean I find his SPEECH acceptable. It is, as you would say in your famous sitcoms -- DEAD COMMON.

    The very idea that "cockney" -- or whatever it is -- SHOULD be given "fair represenation" in the national media as a legitimate form of public communication is frightful.

    Rotten speech SHOULD cary a stigma, SHOULD be eschewed, and SHOULD be subject to rigorous courses designed to overcome it as the handicap it most certainly is -- and SHOULD remain.

  31. If anyone cares to know what I find throughly delightful when it comes to English spoken aloud, please examine this clip:


    Surely one of the most gifted men of the past century in many areas. He had a great heart, great depth, great compassion, and a tremendous sense of patriotism all of which he took pains to conceal much of the time.

    It's a shame he allowed his sense of tragic irony, alcohol and a generalized dissipation [all of which may have been a mask for heartbreak], to turn him into a caricature of the man who achieved fame and fortune. In his last years he became a travesty of his former self -- a man with a rare capacity to make audiences smile through their tears.

  32. I wanted to question why (or if) it is useful for society to stigmatize regional dialects. I don't consider this to be any great departure from your chosen topic, but I don't object to your perspective. I mentioned Feynmann only because his example was already under discussion.

    It's possible that Tommy Robinson has pure motives, but sadly he is an idiot -- a dangerous idiot. I recognise the point you're making, that his cockney accent makes it easier to come to that conclusion. (I believe that I would consider him an idiot even if he spoke like Donald Sinden, but I agree that it is tempting to make the association.) You say, let the cockney alter his speech. I say, let me work on my own faulty assumptions.

    I admire Arthur Smith and Alexei Sayle, who speak with audible cockney and liverpudlian accents respectively, facts which are both less interesting than almost anything either of them has ever said.

    Noel Coward had a wonderful technique, he could rattle through dialog at a rapid rate while always remaining perfectly clear. Recordings don't show it, but I imagine he would have had a very wide dynamic range, too.

  33. Noel Coward's point about range in the video is a fair one. But I believe he is talking about an actor's technique, not so much about how best we ought to judge one another as people.

  34. What we believe, and what actually is may very well be at odds.


  35. Which prompts a frightening thought:
    What if nothing is "really" anything but what each individual BELIEVES it to be?

    What if all Creation is only a figment of our collective imagination?

    What if history, and all human endeavor has been nothing but a fantasy?

    What if nothing is real -- or good -- or bad -- or beautiful -- or ugly -- or helpful -- or dangerous -- or malevolent -- or beneficent -- or superior -- or inferior --or delightful -- or funny -- or English -- or American -- or Jewish -- or French --or Spanish -- or Dutch -- or Scandinavian --or Finnish -- or Russian -- or Chinese -- or Negroid -- or Eskimo -- or fun -- or eve a pain-in-the-ass?

    This seems to be the Post-Modern World where everything is relative, everything equal, nothing can be judged decisively on intrinsic merits or perceived virtue, a place that eschews Faith and Conviction, a place where NOTHNG is SOLID -- NOTHNG is REAL.

    How GREY! How DRAB! How CHILLY! How MADDENING! is the World of Today's Young "intellectuals" who've been raised with a delusive demented Ethos that coolly endorses and embraces NOTHINGNESS -- CHAOS -- CONFUSION.

    Isn't that a perfect description of NIHILISM run amok?


  36. I don't know how you can read me properly and detect nihilism. I am aware of my own subjectivity, and even more so of yours; but I'm no nihilist.

  37. Everything I try to offer is certainly not about you. In fact it is almost never about you.

    As I've observed many times before in our encounters: We move along parallel lines and live in parallel universes.

    You are probably correct in thinking I don't read you right, but then I could -- and will -- say the same thing is true in reverse -- and likely to remain so.

    There is no discernible bond of sympathy between us.

    I find you as confounding and dreary as doubtless you find me.

    Very frankly I don't enjoy the company of contrarians -- especially of the atheistic variety.

    I look to affirm, you seek to deny.

    Oil and water! It's as simple as that.

  38. "I look to affirm, you seek to deny."

    Complementary dispositions, in theory -- You cannot make a realistic pursuit of truth without denying a lot of falseness.

    You're basically telling me to sod off here, I realise, so I apologise for responding. And yet... your objection to my contributions seems (to me) at odds with your assessment of the general deficiencies with the blogosphere -- which I notice you are courting deliberately in a recent post. My offerings are at least a reprieve from all that. I hope to appeal to the side of you which stands against that and hopes for a more substantial discourse; I am uninterested in the side of you which revels in all that muck.

  39. Oh come now! The peanut gallery must be served too, you know. ;-)

    I enjoy you sometimes, but endless argumentation does irritate me after a while, -- especially when I see no hope of ever reaching a point of harmony.

    Try to forgive my occasional fits of bad temper. I'm old, not very well, and probably too set in my ways to provide much fun for a young man like you.

    Also, I must say I do resent the note of condescension and judgment in many of your observations. You may not realize it, but often you speak as if from a superior position. I have to admit it rankles.

    I suppose all of us may offend without realizing it, and I know how easy it is to misunderstand and be misunderstood.

  40. re my note of condescension and judgement: But you're so frequently wrong! :P

    For example

    "The peanut gallery must be served too, you know."

    It really doesn't. Or if it does, we don't need to be the ones to do it.

  41. PS I hope you're feeling better. Are you still able to reach your piano?

  42. This article makes me wonder if anyone makes songs in the traditional "Toidy-Toid and Toid" New York accent anymore.

    What would you say to those people who think "ugly is ugly" accents are part of mankind's linguistic heritage and ought to be preserved, or to those people who think that there is no such thing as an "ugly" accent, just accents that are more or less intelligible to any given listener?



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