This tag is for questions related to mutually intelligible variations within a language.

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4
votes
5answers
1k views

“Needs cleaned” or “needs to be cleaned”

I'm from Western Pennsylvania. Until I moved away, I never realized that when I omitted the to be from phrases like needs to be cleaned, my usage was different than what most English speakers are ...
16
votes
7answers
21k views

Why is a woman's purse called a “pocketbook”?

It's not a book, and it doesn't fit in anyone's pocket. Why does my brother-in-law insist on calling his wife's purse a pocketbook? I'm interested in the etymology, and in the chronological and ...
41
votes
7answers
2k views

Which variant of English should I use when my target audience is the world?

I know that all variants of English (American English, British English, etc.) can be generally understood by everybody who knows any of the English variants. However, there are some regionalisms that ...
15
votes
2answers
2k views

What's this tense called: “I been done ate”?

Growing up in a Black family in the US, I frequently heard people have conversations like this: Mom: Have you eaten yet? Kid: Yeah, Mom, I been done ate. Wife: Have you fixed the sink yet? ...
20
votes
9answers
61k views

Using “dear”, “darling”, or “honey” to address a friend

As far as I know dear, darling, and honey are commonly used between lovers, but I suppose there are more words like that. What else is commonly used? Which of these can be used to address a ...
5
votes
2answers
984 views

What is the proper usage of “Y'all” in southern American dialects

The construction of the word to me implies that "you" is singular, whereas "y'all" is plural. To a football team: "Y'all are going to play a great game." To a tennis player: "You are going to play a ...
3
votes
1answer
287 views

How popular is 'brefass' in modern American vocabulary?

This is an abbreviation of 'breakfast' that I have found myself paying extra attention to recently. In fact I have even heard my mother use it on a regular basis. Is this common in modern spoken ...
11
votes
6answers
7k views

How should I pronounce “Worcestershire” as a rhotic English speaker?

I'm aware that the English county of Worcestershire is pronounced in Britain as ['wu:stəʃə], more or less. However, this is a non-rhotic pronunciation, and it feels very unnatural for me to use this ...
6
votes
8answers
10k views

Which is correct: “soda” or “pop”?

Depending on where you go in the world, some people will refer to a carbonated beverage as "soda" while others choose to use the term "pop." For example, "Can I get you a soda" vs. "Can I get you a ...
3
votes
3answers
833 views

In which dialects does “is wanting” work as an appropriate substitution for “wants”?

I've recently seen a movie character regularly use this construction (for example, "the dog is wanting to be taken out for a walk"), and I am trying to figure out which dialect or cultural background ...
6
votes
3answers
2k views

How do American dialects differ?

I grew up in a very homogenous suburb, and was quite shocked when I moved to Philadelphia for college and started hearing how many different dialects exist even within one city. My untrained ear could ...
13
votes
5answers
2k views

The place where the railroad crosses the road

What do you call those places where a railroad crosses an automobile road?: Of course, I've heard what they are called in English, but I suspect that they are referred to differently depending on ...
19
votes
2answers
8k views

Where do accents and dialects come from?

Why do people in different areas speak differently? Where do accents come from, how do they change and/or survive over time and why do we have them? Reading recommendations on this topic would be ...
26
votes
7answers
2k views

How common is “thrice”?

Our proofreader, a native speaker of American English, just won't let me use this word. Every single time I try to sneak it onto one of our sites, she replaces it with three times. Now, I do realize ...
3
votes
2answers
458 views

Where are phrases such as “my one friend” used?

I occasionally hear someone use the phrase "my one friend" to mean "one of my friends". To me it sounds like they only have one. Where is this form used most?
44
votes
13answers
2k views

Central Pennsylvanian English speakers: what are the limitations on the “needs washed” construction?

In the Central Pennsylvania dialect of English (and possibly elsewhere), the following construction is possible: This car needs washed. (=needs to be washed) The room needs cleaned. (=needs ...
5
votes
1answer
6k views

Is “weightage” an English word?

Is weightage an English word? We use it a lot in India, but I couldn't find it in my Oxford Dictionary.
12
votes
2answers
37k views

“Successfull”/“successful” — is this a UK/US difference?

I would tend to write double-l, but Google gives me more single-l, so I'm guessing it's an Atlantic divide thing. And I guess all the other *full words.
22
votes
3answers
2k views

The times they are a-changin'

I have always been intrigued by the word usage in the title of this Bob Dylan song. Wikipedia mentions that the song was influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads: Dylan recalled writing the song ...
2
votes
1answer
886 views

Origin of jive slang

Where did the jive style of slang come from? It sounds pretty funny... specially from that scene in Airplane.
9
votes
2answers
1k views

Which native English speakers are linguistically the most “germanic”?

English is a Germanic language. Another significant Germanic language is of course German. Which native English speakers are the closest to German basing on the following criteria? accent-wise ...
19
votes
5answers
15k views

Is “might could” a correct construct?

I have a friend from the southern U.S. who uses the phrase “might could” quite often. He’ll say, for example: I might could do that this weekend. When I first heard him say this, it made me do ...
12
votes
5answers
2k views

“Bring” vs. “take” in American English

English (other than American English) has a clear differentiation between the two words. Both are about translocating something. In "bring" the something of somebody is moved to where the speaker is ...
6
votes
5answers
1k views

“Fixing to” at the beginning of a sentence

Use of fixing to at the beginning of a sentence is prevalent in the southern states of Amerca. Is this the right usage? And is this only a southern US thing? Examples: Fixing to call her. ...
1
vote
4answers
769 views

Is it correct to speak of New York dialect?

Is it correct to speak of New York dialect, or should I use a different term when referring to the particular pronunciation used in New York?
1
vote
2answers
740 views

“same as” vs just “same”

Here are two variations of the same sentence: He's not the same as he was yesterday. He's not the same he was yesterday. Both can be encountered in colloquial speech, but I would like to ...
14
votes
14answers
2k views

When is it appropriate to use the original pronunciation of a foreign word versus the English pronunciation?

When reading to an audience, or speaking in conversation, when is it appropriate to use the original pronunciation of a foreign word versus the English pronunciation (assuming you know the appropriate ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

Is “not at all” still alive and doing well?

I was taught to use "not at all" as a rather polite, standard reply to "thank you". However, I don't see it being used at all nowadays. Can I still use it? Would it be widely understood? Should I be ...
156
votes
8answers
7k views

What is the factual basis for “pirate speech”? (Did pirates really say things like “shiver me timbers”?)

The "pirate speech" we hear/see/read, for example, on the website Talk Like A Pirate Day consists of a rhotic dialect characterized by phrases like "shiver me timbers," "ooh arh me hearties," and so ...
18
votes
7answers
33k views

What does “thy” mean?

I read a sentence containing the word thy, but I cannot find the meaning of that word. Is it older English, or is it still used in contemporary English today?
11
votes
4answers
674 views

In what contexts is it important to maintain your accent or dialect?

I'm an American who lives in Germany and hear many kinds of English spoken by many nationalities. Just as "one can either write organization or organisation but the main point is to be consistent" I ...
2
votes
6answers
1k views

Is the line blurring between “accent” and “dialect”?

The definition that I have had in my head for most of my life is: dialect: a variation of the original language (usually regional), sometimes even using different vocabulary and grammar ...
2
votes
5answers
319 views

Is it correct to say “…of guys got fame…”?

(I'm learning English, so please correct any mistakes or poor English.) When reading a post I've seen this comment: Stupid idea from a bunch of guys got fame for helping people steal stuff – now ...
9
votes
3answers
3k views

“Pretty” as an adverb

How correct/common/proper is "pretty" as an adverb? It is hard for me to see, since it's my native dialect, but I say "pretty often" pretty often, and "fairly often" fairly rarely. Does "pretty" mark ...
8
votes
10answers
2k views

Pronunciation of “especially”

In some podcasts (it seems the speaker was from California) I heard that the word "especially" was pronounced with "ks" sound like "ikspeshally". What was it likely to be, personal way of ...
11
votes
6answers
756 views

“Football” and “Soccer”

I know that the game which is called "football" in Europe is called "soccer" in the U.S. But I wonder to what extent this differentiation is strict. What do people from England call their favorite ...
16
votes
5answers
16k views

Which is correct: “standing on line” or “standing in line”?

I'm curious to hear from folks in the the Northeast United States (or anyone, really) an explanation of why "standing on line" seems preferable to "standing in line" in the US northeast. I imagine ...
9
votes
1answer
3k views

In what ways is Appalachian speech closer to Elizabethan English than contemporary British?

I read this question in the sample questions section. It hasn't been asked yet, now I'd like to know. I have heard that regional dialects of English are often more closely related to provincial ...