Saturday, January 20, 2007

Colbert on accents

Only now had time to check the quote (it's quoted here), but the other night, in his pre-NFL playoff trash-talking segment, Stephen Colbert quipped:
Boston accents are weird!
Now, just get over the Truthiness Violation here — yes, I should have gone with my gut over the 'facts', but I hang out with a lot of professors and the whole 'accuracy' thing is a big deal to them. Go figure. (Maybe that's why they get the respect they do today, eh?)

Anyway, it took a minute to realize just how brilliant that line is: Colbert's from Charleston, South Carolina, a place about which people have often made the same remark. (Labov et al.'s new Atlas and related work shows that the city continues to have a unique place among southern dialects.) When I was a kid, in fact, coastal southern dialects sounded to me a lot like northern r-less dialects like Boston. But then Colbert doesn't use what I recognize as any serious Charleston characteristics on the show, whether he speaks the dialect or not.

Still, as that great SoCal punk band The Vandals said about Bozo the Clown, "That man's a frickin' genius."

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