Questions tagged [dialects]

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

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243 votes
11 answers

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 ...
user avatar
123 votes
24 answers

"Lunch" vs. "dinner" vs. "supper" — times and meanings?

I've seen cases where a noon-time meal is referred to as dinner, and the evening meal is called supper. There's also lunch around noon followed by dinner in the evening. Is there a particular ...
Jeff Ferland's user avatar
  • 1,361
70 votes
19 answers

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 to ...
Kosmonaut's user avatar
  • 50.3k
52 votes
17 answers

Is "act like a mensch" too localized for ELU readers (U.S. and/or British English)?

This question was motivated by an interesting comment that was made at Part of Answer: I don't think that particular research ...
aparente001's user avatar
  • 21.4k
51 votes
7 answers

Can 'revert' be used as a synonym of 'reply'?

I am a native speaker of American English, and I have only ever heard this usage of the word revert from one person. This person is not a native English speaker (he is from India), so he may just be ...
pkaeding's user avatar
  • 1,707
43 votes
7 answers

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 ...
Sid's user avatar
  • 2,764
42 votes
4 answers

Why do I pronounce "horrible" so harrhibly?

With Friends Like These A few months ago, a couple good friends brought up a topic they know I disdain, and kept prodding me for my opinion on it. They wouldn't let up, until finally I proclaimed "[...
Dan Bron's user avatar
  • 28.7k
40 votes
2 answers

"Successfull"/"successful" — is this a UK/US difference? [closed]

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.
Benjol's user avatar
  • 4,729
38 votes
4 answers

Is 'useable' preferred in certain regions, or just an alternate spelling of 'usable'?

I rarely use spell checkers, but today when I did use one, it suggested changing the word 'useable' to 'usable' (i.e. to drop the first 'e'). This seemed immediately intuitive and I thought I'd just ...
Amos M. Carpenter's user avatar
37 votes
5 answers

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 a ...
Doug T.'s user avatar
  • 2,690
36 votes
5 answers

Regional dialect or just improper grammar? Eating on leftovers or just eating leftovers

On several occasions I have heard white people from the deep south part of the United States (Louisiana to Georgia) say that they will be eating ON leftovers, instead of just eating leftovers. For ...
Devil07's user avatar
  • 4,046
36 votes
5 answers

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 as ...
Jaime Soto's user avatar
  • 1,885
35 votes
4 answers

Is "prepone" being used outside India?

Prepone is a great word - it's the opposite of postpone. When you prepone a meeting, you change its scheduled time so that it occurs sooner than originally planned. Has this usage spread beyond India? ...
Evan's user avatar
  • 1,226
31 votes
9 answers

What's the difference between a jumper, a pullover, and a sweater?

Following on from a recent question, in Australia we have the word jumper for a knitted long-sleeved garment, typically woollen. When cosuming foreign media I always assumed the terms pullover and ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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31 votes
6 answers

Dialects where days of the week end with "dee"?

Someone recently posted a question about the pronunciation of Wednesday, which reminded me of a different question about pronouncing the days of the week I've had floating around in my head for a ...
alcas's user avatar
  • 4,892
30 votes
10 answers

What would a British person call the biscuits that Americans put gravy on?

What are the biscuits that Americans put gravy on called in British English? They're very different from British biscuits. I like both kinds of biscuits, but the British ones would not be good with ...
Someone's user avatar
  • 758
29 votes
8 answers

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 ...
RegDwigнt's user avatar
  • 97.1k
29 votes
1 answer

Why is "ask" sometimes pronounced "aks"?

We've recently moved from New Zealand to New York City, and have noticed that many people (most of whom have good English) pronounce "ask" as "aks". For example: Could you please go aks her ...
Ben Hoyt's user avatar
  • 492
28 votes
8 answers

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?
apaderno's user avatar
  • 58.9k
27 votes
5 answers

In what region is "thou", etc. used in dialect?

My mother often uses words like "thou", "thy", and "thine" in everyday speech. A typical example is: "Thou art a jammy bugger!" She is from the north of England. I'm wondering whether this quirk ...
victoriah's user avatar
  • 1,445
27 votes
4 answers

"Bad with something" or "bad at something"?

In a question on Spanish.StackExchange, a question came up about expressing that you are bad at remembering or doing something. Is one "bad at something" or "bad with something" (nouns)? What about "...
jrdioko's user avatar
  • 1,031
27 votes
2 answers

"It is" used as "there is": what is the origin?

Ok, this is a somewhat nonstandard English question. In the Southern US, or at least in Central Virginia, there is an idiomatic use of the phrase it is that is equivalent to the expression there is, ...
Brian J. Fink's user avatar
25 votes
9 answers

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 (close/...
mafu's user avatar
  • 4,429
24 votes
8 answers

"Season" vs. "series"

TV shows, other than ones that have new episodes year-round (e.g. news, soaps), typically group episodes in batches — most often per year, although not necessarily calendar years, and sometimes there ...
Tony Meyer's user avatar
23 votes
2 answers

Is there such a thing as Intrusive-L (as opposed to Intrusive-R)?

Most of us have heard plenty of examples of the so-called Intrusive-R. It is a feature of non-rhotic dialects, including British RP and some New England dialects. It occurs between two vowels that are ...
Robusto's user avatar
  • 151k
23 votes
4 answers

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 ...
glenatron's user avatar
  • 1,736
22 votes
5 answers

Differences between "sledge", "sleigh" and "sled"

Is there a difference between a sledge, a sleigh and a sled? Dictionary definitions suggest they are synonymous, but it certainly sounds wrong to refer to Santa Claus on a sledge.
Urbycoz's user avatar
  • 15.7k
22 votes
3 answers

Saying “today morning” to mean “this morning”

As an American, I use the term this morning, but I’ve noticed some Asian Indian coworkers who always say today morning to mean what I mean by this morning. Is this an Indian English “dialectism”? Is ...
Spiff's user avatar
  • 538
21 votes
10 answers

What is the difference between "curd" and "yogurt"?

Most people use the words curd and yogurt interchangeably. Both are made by fermenting milk. Is there a difference between the two, or are they the same?
Serious's user avatar
  • 337
21 votes
3 answers

What is the meaning and use of "seh" in Caribbean dialects of English?

I have heard "seh" used in Jamaican English but I think it's probably used in other parts of the Caribbean too. I know that in many cases, it is simply the equivalent of standard English "say". ...
Tim Foster's user avatar
  • 1,501
21 votes
3 answers

What is the origin of "six" as a word to refer to the toilet?

A common euphemism for the toilet in the spoken Welsh of north Wales is "lle chwech", literally "six place" ("chwech" being "six" in Welsh). Note this refers mainly to the room rather than the ...
PrettyHands's user avatar
20 votes
5 answers

Is “I’ve boughten many vinyls” correct in its use of “boughten”?

Per Merriam-Webster ( boughten is an adjective. According to my non-native-English-speaking friend the sentence "I've boughten ...
Meep's user avatar
  • 335
20 votes
2 answers

What does this Peter Sellers sentence mean?

What does the sentence mean which Peter Sellers is here quoting from his grandad? (I refer to the sentence he says immediately after you start ...
yglodt's user avatar
  • 319
20 votes
4 answers

"The thing is, is that..."

This is a phrase I've heard many people use, and it sounds wrong to me; e.g.: The thing about that is, is that she might take it the wrong way. It seems to treat "The thing [...] is"—the entire ...
Dan Tao's user avatar
  • 1,560
20 votes
9 answers

Could "them" mean "those"?

Background Nowadays, I see "them" used to mean "those" a lot. I don't know if it was as common in the past. For example, take "one of them people". On researching about ...
ermanen's user avatar
  • 62.6k
20 votes
5 answers

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 ...
cori's user avatar
  • 3,396
20 votes
3 answers

Non-rhotic dialects and intrusive r

I am from New England (northeastern US) and it's my understanding that we have a non-rhotic dialect in this region, which is unusual compared to the rest of the US. It is common to drop the final r ...
Kit Z. Fox's user avatar
  • 27.8k
20 votes
3 answers

Southern Dialect: Word for a time of day?

I remember reading a story somewhere that a Southerner wrote about one of his life experiences. He mentioned that in the region he lived there was a time of day that cooled off a large amount in less ...
dboggs95's user avatar
  • 309
19 votes
6 answers

What's with the 'heigth' pandemic?

Recently I've noticed that many people are pronouncing the word 'height' as /haiθ/ That's right, heigth. I've only ever heard this pronunciation mistake in the last few years. Maybe it's just an ...
David's user avatar
  • 321
19 votes
14 answers

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 ...
Ants's user avatar
  • 639
19 votes
8 answers

In what dialects does "often" rhyme with "soften"?

I believe in most English dialects soften is pronounced without a t sound. In some dialects, often is similar, but in others a t sound is quite evident in often. I'm interested not only in which ...
mgkrebbs's user avatar
  • 6,867
19 votes
7 answers

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 ...
Marthaª's user avatar
  • 32.9k
19 votes
5 answers

"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 ...
Farrel's user avatar
  • 599
18 votes
8 answers

Can "Mr", "Mrs", etc. be used with a first name?

Is it correct to use Mr/Mrs with a first name?
Roger S Pearce's user avatar
18 votes
2 answers

Origin of the phrase "crazy as a coon"—is it racist?

Encountered most recently in the Procol Harum song "Lime Street." Does the phrase refer to a raccoon, or is the word here used in the sense of the slur?
guangming223's user avatar
18 votes
4 answers

"Checking" vs. "chequing" vs. "chequeing" with regards to types of bank accounts

I came across this little dilemma when looking up the incorrectly spelled word "chequing" in my web browser's dictionary (Opera). According to the different dictionaries you can select in Opera: EN ...
Vian Esterhuizen's user avatar
18 votes
1 answer

-sen for -self in English: history and usage

In my class there is a gentleman from the north of England who uses "-sen" instead of "-self" in such words as "himself" ("himsen") and "myself" ("mysen"). As far as I can tell, he always uses "-sen" ...
Au101's user avatar
  • 1,822
18 votes
2 answers

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? Husband:...
John Saunders's user avatar
17 votes
1 answer

I was raised being called "sister" by my family. What's the background on this usage?

I was called "sister", as a replacement for my name. (Oddly, my brother was not called "brother.") I never questioned this growing up in the 50's in a rural area. It says much about the culture I grew ...
Sister's user avatar
  • 381
16 votes
12 answers

What's the difference between "good on you" vs. "good for you", with a sincere meaning something like "you've done a good thing"?

In the northeastern USA I usually hear "good for you," as in You passed the test? Good for you! [congrats] Good for you, for stopping to help! [you are a good person] Online I often see ...
aedia λ's user avatar
  • 10.7k

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