mánudagur, maí 17, 2004

The Beauty of Boston English

Due to popular demand (!), I feel obliged to translate my last post from Icelandic into English. So here goes:


Sometimes, I get hooked on Survivre (Franconization of the show’s name pathetically supposed to induce laughter). I think I’ve followed at least two series in their entirety out of those seven that have been shown although occasionally missing an episode or two.

Yesterday, I caught a glimpse of the show that set my mind on fire. For I, devoted listeners, seldom take a liking to this kind of stuff (i.e. reality shows and such) for the same reasons others do, as those of you who know me might know. It went like this: Boston Rob won a pick-up truck in a reward challenge and was allowed to cruise in it to a drive-in theatre alongside a fellow Survivor of his choice. Of course, he chose his beautiful, beloved Amber.

But then I heard there’s a reason for why he’s called Boston Rob. He is (yes, brace yourselves) from Boston and as such speaks a variant of English called Boston English.

When Boston Rob was asked whom he wanted to mitnehmen to the drive-in (again, foreign slang supposed to induce laughter), he said: „Ambeh. Of cohs.“ As a matter of fact, Bostonians do not pronounce their r’s like the rest of America does, but more in the vein of the English. For example, the say Haavaad, not HaRRvaRRd. They also pronounce their vowels in an interesting way; pronounce ‘therefore’ something like [ðea’fua] instead of [ðer’for]. In that way, they establish for themselves a linguistic distinctiveness in America, cf. these web pages.

People will at once realize what I’m talking about when I point out President John F. Kennedy, who spoke English in a rather peculiar way, namely Boston English, the same variant Boston Rob speaks as is to be heard here and here. Civis Romanus sum.

I’m going to move to Boston.

Then, Önundur Páll Ragnarsson, stud. iur. at the University of Iceland, commented in the following fashion:

Senator Kerry must speak in that way, too. Isn’t he of some exceedingly noble Boston family?

Then, I, under my assumed Latin pseudonym, retorted thus:

At least I think he doesn’t speak Boston English in the same pure way Kennedy did. In any case, it’s clear that Boston English is associated with the American ruling class and their politicians, cf. that Mayor Quimby of Springfield in The Simpsons is made to speak Boston English.