ASK MARILYN


By Marulyn vos Savant


marilyn@parade.com

 


People who live in certain areas of the Midwest seem to have little or no accent when they speak. But isn’t that an accent in itself? How do they get to be considered neutral?


The English language has developed standards in pronunciation as it has in spelling. These pronunciations are recorded in dictionaries and do a great service to us all. They help to keep us from fragmenting into many dialects that cannot be understood by other Americans. Of the regions in the U.S., Midwesterners pronounce words closest to the dictionary standard, so those people actually have the least accent. When slightly modified, this kind of speech has no accent at all.


The reason accents cause problems is that most have a negative connotation. By disregarding the dictionary pronunciation and using a regional one instead, a person with an accent—especially a strong one---may be perceived as pretentious, uneducated, or even dull-witted, depending on the accent.




WHEN IN DOUBT, SPEAK LIKE A MIDWESTERNER



What do these words have in common?

decay, essay, excellency, expediency, ivy.


(When each of their syllables is pronounced, it sounds like a letter of the alphabet. decay = D-K essay = S-A you try it.)



RIDDLE ME THIS!


If the Grand Canyon were used as a landfill and

filled at the current rate for example, just how

long would it take to fill it? “Seriously. Almost)


It has been seriously estimated that the Grand Canyon of today encompasses about 1000 cubic miles. If so, it could hold at least 3,271,065,600,000 tons of fresh waste. In 2001, Americans generated roughly 229.2 millions tons of trash. “That’s you and all other wasteful Americans. Me also. Of this amount about 55.7% was landfilled. At that rate, we would take some 25,622 years (!) to fill the canyon. If you wonder about population growth, consider this also: waste settles and decomposes until it takes only 75% of it’s original space. At the current rate, this would give us another 8,541 years; or a grand total of 34,163 years.



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