Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Mis-mocking dialects: Denny Hastert

Was just poking around, looking through various political blogs, mostly ones I hadn't ever looked at, and discovered that the blog DCeiver has the same Blogspot/Blogger layout template as this blog. (Limited choices ... somebody had to!) It's pretty, hmmmm, earthy political commentary, mostly about the Foley scandal at the moment. Check out this snippet:
What did Hastert know and when did he know about it? Specifically, did he know enough about Foley's proclivities to be able to say, "Ergh. Foley's talking. ... Will I have time to run and get a cruller? Damn. I love me some crullers."
Now, mocking Denny Hastert's dialect is a fine sport -- Jim Ward, "Voice Guy Extraordinaire" on the Stephanie Miller Show, does a pretty good Hastert with a big Chicago-area accent: He gets big raising of [æ] before nasals and fronting of the back low vowel (especially in the constantly repeated 'oh god!'), although it's not very distinct from his James Sensenbrenner imitation.

But DCeiver -- who's perhaps never been to the Midwest? -- blows it big-time here. Cruller as a kind of doughnut seems likely to be intended to give some regional flavor but it's not a particularly good dialect feature: according to the Dictionary of American Regional English, it can be found esp. in the northeast, but covers most of the country, including lots of the Upper Midwest. But only a few dots are there in Illinois, and just one lonely one in the greater Chicago area. The word DCeiver wanted here was bismark -- named after a Chicago hotel (if memory serves) and really characteristic of the region.

And on that reflexive ... "I love me some X" has spread like wildfire (most likely connected to Toni Braxton hit "I love me some him"), but it's really hard to imagine Hastert using it, though a southerner of his age might well.

Come on, folks ... let's do a better job of mocking morally bankrupt politicians!

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