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April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 7, 2012/ 14 Shevat, 5772

Sez Who?

By Greg Crosby



http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | Besides the usual reasons, watching old movies and television shows are interesting because they open a cultural window into yesterday. (When I say "old" I'm not talking 1985, I'm referring to the 1930's, the 40's, and the 50's.) One thing that becomes apparent to anyone with an ear for language is that people don't sound the same now as they did a few decades ago. There are a million ways that language has changed, and usually not for the better. One aspect of American language which has been disappearing at a fast clip is the regional accents.

Undoubtedly the proliferation of popular culture through music, movies, computer communication, and mostly television is the reason why almost all young people today sound the same, with nary a hint of a southern twang, or an east coast soft "r." All young girls want to sound like the popular girls they watch on TV; all young boys want to sound like the cool dudes they hear in the movies.

How sad it is that we are losing the charms of local speak. On a recent cross-country driving trip it was so very obvious. Everyone across the country under the age of forty sounds like they all grew up in the same town: Popcultursville, USA.

While the "New Yawk" dialect is still burlesqued on TV and in movies, the fact is, it is not the prevailing accent of New Yorkers that it once was. While listening to George Burns in a rerun of "The Burns and Allen Show" from the early fifties, I became aware that he spoke of smoking "cigahs," playing "cahds," and going to "dinnah pahties." This soft "r" way of speaking was the norm for most New Yorkers once upon a time, now it's more or less just for movie and TV Mafia types.

The same is true of New England accents. "Ay-ah." There used to be a Pepperidge Farm spokesman in TV commercials who spoke that way. Think of the popular series "Murder She Wrote" and the way the townsfolk all sounded in Angela Lansbury's fictional village of Cabot Cove, Maine. New Englanders really used to talk that way, believe it or not, not just actors who play them on TV. And Midwesterners had their own way of speaking, as did folks in the northern parts of Dakota and Minnesota. Think Fargo.

But the winner of the dialect contest hands down goes to the South. The South had so many different dialects that there was just about one accent for every state. Texas was very different from Louisiana or Virginia, or Alabama or Tennessee. Actors in movies and stage had a field day with southern accents; they still do, even though the dialects are fading away with each passing year. How ironic it is that the entertainment business likes to keep the cliché regional accents alive in plays, movies, and commercials when it is they themselves that contributed almost single-handedly to the end of the regional accents in this country.

For anyone wishing to get an education in what American regional dialect once was, I suggest reading Mark Twain for starters. Then move right into Joel Chandler Harris, Bret Harte, George W. Cable, Charles Egbert Craddock (Miss Murfree), Mary E. Wilkins (now Mrs. Freeman), and William Faulkner. Want to know how the REAL wise guys on the streets of New York used to speak? Read the delightful short stories of Damon Runyon. The newspaper comics of the early and mid 20th Century used dialect extensively, particularly Li'l Abner, Krazy Kat, Barney Google, Mutt and Jeff, and Pogo. But almost all of them used it to some degree.

The United States was a patchwork quilt of individuals with individual nuance in speech and cadence and varied as the landscape. As John Steinbeck once wrote: "Ever'body says words different" Said Ivy. "Arkansas folks says 'em different from Oklahomy folks says 'em different. And we seen a lady from Massachusetts, an' she said 'em differentest of all." -The Grapes of Wrath

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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.

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© 2008, Greg Crosby

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