dialects and languages

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Tue Feb 26 16:24:52 UTC 2008


You have obviously not heard the captain announce (on KLM) that we
are approaching Schiphol (Amsterdam) airport. When I am in Amsterdam
in a few weeks I will tell Dutch friends (only close ones of course)
about the cat's hairball fricative; I know they will like it (they
are all linguists).


PS: My Eudora spell-checker doesn't like "hairball"!

>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>Poster:       George Thompson <george.thompson at NYU.EDU>
>Subject:      Re: dialects and languages
>I had a comrade at my library job who was born and raised in the
>Dutch speaking part of Belgium.
>There was a project that some benefactor of the human race had
>undertaken, to publish translations of P. G. Wodehouse's story, "The
>Great Sermon Handicap" in all the languages of the world.  Volume 1
>gave the story in 6 or 8 Romance languages.  Of course I ordered it
>for the library.  I showed Kurt the volume for the Germanic
>languages, with a translation into Flemish, and he became furious.
>Flemish isn't a language, it's a dialect; I spoke Flemish when I was
>a little boy, with my parents, but then I went to school and learned
>to speak proper Dutch; I wouldn't know how to translate something
>into Flemish myself; &c.
>I believe that this effort was abandoned after 6 volumes, but it is
>available in better libraries everywhere.
>I was at the reference desk with Kurt one day when a girl said to
>him "I have to write a paper on Vincent Van Go"  He said, "You mean
>Vincent Van" and here he made a sound such as I have not otherwise
>heard, except when my cat was producing a hairball.  Then he helped
>her to research her paper.
>George A. Thompson
>Author of A Documentary History of "The African Theatre",
>Northwestern Univ. Pr., 1998, but nothing much lately.
>The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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