Small paper, big names

The New York Observer, a small paper in New York City, has an article today on the “City Girl Squawk“. The particular dialect features they’re discussing don’t come across very well in the article, but at least they played clips when getting quotes from the prominent linguists they interviewed: Bert Vaux, John Singler, Bill Labov, and Walt Wolfram.

At NYU, we sometimes get requests from the media to talk about different aspects of linguistics (e.g. why some names, like “Bennifer” or “Brangelina”, make good blends.) Since these requests have come from New York Newsday or even from Fox News, I think sometimes we’re wary about being portrayed negatively or in a “gee whiz, look at that stuff they study!” kind of way. But this article does a good job of using experts to shed light on a pop culture phenomenon that intersects with the academic world.

4 thoughts on “Small paper, big names

  1. Lisa Davidson

    Yeah, I didn’t see the Language Log link until after I posted. But at least we have comments, so it’s worth reposting.

  2. Bert Vaux

    I can email anyone who’s interested the recording of this “accent” that the author of the article sent me to evaluate. I told him that it was a variety of American English that one finds all over the country, and has nothing to do with New York per se, but he didn’t seem too interested in that possibility.

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