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Investigates the history and continuing evolution of American English, from the 16th century to the present, to celebrate the endless variety and remarkable inventiveness that have always been at the heart of our language. By the author of Images of English: A Cultural History of the Language.
Did you know that your answers to just a handful of questions can predict the zip code of where you grew up? Speaking American offers a visual atlas of the American vernacular--who says what, and where they say it--revealing the history of our nation, our regions, and the language that divides and unites us.
From the creator of the New York Times dialect quiz that ignited conversations about how and why we say the words we say, a stunning and delightful exploration of American language Did you know that your answers to just a handful of questions can reveal where you grew up? In December 2013, Josh Katz released an interactive dialect quiz in the New York Times that became the most viewed page in the paper's history. Now a graphics editor, Katz harnessed the overwhelming response to that quiz to create Speaking American, an extraordinary and beautiful tour through the American vernacular. How do you pronounce "pecan"? What do you call a long sandwich with varieties of meats and cheeses? Do you cut the grass or mow the lawn? The answers to these questions—and the distinctions they reveal about who says what and where they say it—are not just the ultimate in cocktail party fodder; they are also windows into the history of our nation, our regions, and our language. On page after page, readers will be fascinated and charmed by these stunning maps of how Americans speak as they gain new insights into our language and ourselves. For fans of Eats, Shoots and Leaves and How the States Got Their Shapes, Speaking American is an irresistible feast of American regional speech.
When Lyndon B. Johnson signed the Bilingual Education Act of 1968, language learning became a touchstone in the emerging culture wars. Nowhere was this more apparent than in Los Angeles, where elected officials from both political parties had supported the legislation, and where the most disruptive protests over it occurred. The city, with its diverse population of Latinos and Asian Americans, is the ideal locus for Zevi Gutfreund’s study of how language instruction informed the social construction of American citizenship. Combining the history of language instruction, school desegregation, and civil rights activism as it unfolded in Japanese American and Mexican American communities in L.A., this timely book clarifies the critical and evolving role of language instruction in twentieth-century American politics. Speaking American reveals how, for generations, language instruction offered a forum for Angelino educators to articulate their responses to policies that racialized access to citizenship—from the “national origins” immigration quotas of the Progressive Era through Congress’s removal of race from these quotas in 1965. Meanwhile, immigrant communities designed language experiments to counter efforts to limit their liberties. Gutfreund’s book is the first to place the experiences of Mexican Americans and Japanese Americans side by side as they navigated debates over Americanization programs, intercultural education, school desegregation, and bilingual education. In the process, the book shows, these language experiments helped Angelino immigrants introduce competing concepts of citizenship that were tied to their actions and deeds rather than to the English language itself. Complicating the usual top-down approach to the history of racial politics in education, Speaking American recognizes the ways in which immigrant and ethnic activists, as well as white progressives and conservatives, have been deeply invested in controlling public and private aspects of language instruction in Los Angeles. The book brings compelling analytic depth and breadth to its examination of the social and political landscape in a city still at the epicenter of American immigration politics.
Book and CD. Dialect is not simply a verbal costume worn by an actor -- it is fundamental to speech and therefore acting, in that it helps to locate the historical, biographical and social identity of a character. Meryl Streep described dialect as "a way of finding the essential truth of the character". Speaking American is a simple and accurate guide to speaking in a General American dialect. This is the preferred dialect for performance in a wide range of American stage, film and television works, and it can operate as a foundation dialect for other regional or ethnic American dialects. The book covers pronunciation, intonation, American lingo, phonetics, tongue placement, lip formation and practical exercises, as well as words and phrases useful for improvisation work. The accompanying CD complements the various lessons and exercises.