How English would look if each accent had its own orthography

There are a huge range of English accents. It can take a while to adjust to another accent, but our brains do it relatively quickly. If we all wrote in IPA though, things would be a lot harder. We would have to sound it out and that might still not help us understand it.

Our orthography unites us. Everyone who speaks English can read what I am writing now, and understand it, no matter what accent they have. But I was intrigued to see what it would look like if each of our accents had a different orthography. Would that make it harder to understand each other’s writing?

I have been learning Swedish for a while and I quickly learned how similar it is to Norwegian and Danish. But each language has its own orthography, so it makes the languages look more different than they are. English speakers united orthography definitely helps us understand each other.

So what would English look like if each accent had its own regular orthography? I present to you, what English would look like if that were the case.

General American

IPA: /aɪ ləv leɪŋwɨdʒɨz. aɪ laɪk̚ tʰʉ ɹaɪt̚ ɨbaʊt̚ wɹ̩dz. soʊʃɫ̩ midiə ɪz ə gɹeɪt̚ pʰleɪs tʰʉ tʰɑɫk̚ tʰʉ pʰipɫ̩ hʉ ʃeɪɹ jɔɹ pʰæʃn̩./

Aë lîv leëngwiijiiz. Aë laëk tu raët iibaut wrdz. Souśl midiî ëz î greët pleës tò tølk tò pipl hò śeër ĭor pêśn.

IPA: /aɪ lʌv læŋgwɪdʒəz. aɪ laɪk tə raɪɾ əbaʊʔ wɜdz. soʊʃəL midiə ɪz ə greɪʔ pleɪs tə tɔk tə pipəl hu ʃɛə jə pæʃən/

Æ laf” leñk”wùđès”. Æ læk tè ræd èp”å’ wìt”ş. Sōcèl mēt”ēè ùs” è k”rā’ plās tè tōk tè pēpèl hū cìè yè pecèn

IPA: /aɪ lʌv ˈlæŋgwəʤɪz. aɪ laɪk tuː raɪt əbaʊw wɜːdz. səʊʃəl mɛdɪjə ɪz ə greɪt pleɪs tə tɔːk tə piːpl huːw ʃeə jɔː pæʃən/

Aĭ làf¯ laingvüj¯ĭs¯. Aĭ laĭk tuu raĭt üp¯aùu wœt¯s¯. Süùçül mœt¯ĭjü ĭs¯ ü k¯reĭt pleĭs tü tok tü pīpl huu çeü jo paiçün

Northeast London
IPA: /ɑe lɐv ʹlæ:ŋgwɪʤɪz | ɑ lɑɪʔ tˢə ʋɑɪʔ bæʊʔ wɛ:dz | ʹsəʉʃɤ ʹmi:dɪə ɪz ə græɪʔ plæɪs tˢə tˢo:ʔ tˢə ʹpʰi:pəl ʊ ʃɛə jə ʹpæʃən/

A lav längwïjïz. A lai^ te vhai^ bäu^ wëdz. Seushü mèdïe ïz e gräi^ pläis te to^ te pipel u shëe je päshen.

All of them together
Aë lîv leëngwiijiiz. Aë laëk tu raët iibaut wrdz. Souśl midiî ëz î greët pleës tò tølk tò pipl hò śeër ĭor pêśn.
Æ laf” leñk”wùđès”. Æ læk tè ræd èp”å’ wìt”ş. Sōcèl mēt”ēè ùs” è k”rā’ plās tè tōk tè pēpèl hū cìè yè pecèn
Aĭ làf¯ laingvüj¯ĭs¯. Aĭ laĭk tuu raĭt üp¯aùu wœt¯s¯. Süùçül mœt¯ĭjü ĭs¯ ü k¯reĭt pleĭs tü tok tü pīpl huu çeü jo paiçün
A lav längwïjïz. A lai^ te vhai^ bäu^ wëdz. Seushü mèdïe ïz e gräi^ pläis te to^ te pipel u shëe je päshen.

How social media can change the world

Human society has always worked on a very simple principle

People do things and they continue to do them until someone tells them to stop. They either acquiesce or they fight (and sometimes win).

Everyone has different ideas on how things should work, and sometimes people have even started wars over it. Sometimes wars are about who should be the leader or about resources but sometimes they are more about ideas.

We gave this principle a very simple name: power

Who has power and how does it work?

In tribal times, it was the tribal chief, who was physically strong, charismatic and liked by those around him that had the power. Power is very simply the ability to do things without impedance, and the ability to get people to do things for you.

In a community of people, organisation is imperative. It can be draconian or liberal, but it requires some sort of agreement amongst the agents in that community of who decides what they should do.

In feudal times, it was the king, with his access to wealth, and a standing army, that was able to convince people either by threat or actual violence to do what he wanted.

In pre internet capitalism, it was the industry magnate, using his massive wealth as a bargain chip, that got his way.

But the internet has changed everything.

The reason for this is actually very simple. It has democratised communication, which has profound implications for power.

The key to getting power is getting people to come along with you. Throughout history, various strategies have been used to convince people (I gave a few examples before). The core of it really, is language and politics.

No matter if you are a chief or an emperor, you absolutely need to get people to go along with you. Chief, kings, CEOs and emperors have all failed because they failed to understand this very fundamental aspect of human relations. Power has never, and will never exist as an abstract entity.

You can never just grab actual power. It is only ever be done through people. I know it seems obvious that power doesn’t actually exist. It’s only a metaphor to explain human relations. But emperors and kings have fallen because they think it is the crown, or gold, or shares, or ships, or knights that bring power. It has and always will be people to have power and leaders who try to go against this always end up failing.

How does this tie into social media, I hear you ask?

A huge part of the dynamics of power is the ability to have people listen to you (because you are important enough to listen to) and to ability to put a message out. Social media has democratised communication.

A large part of why the American colonists were able to win the revolutionary war is because their leaders were much closer than the British army in America. It was much easier to communicate and to organise.

Local newspapers would write stories about the things the British were doing and this would affect the local population. The people running the newspapers had the power to put out any story they wish. This ability to communicate to a wide audience was not available to everyone.

Traditional media before the internet had a huge amount of power. They could promote politicians, artists, authors or anything else they liked.

If you wanted to make a living making media, you had to get a large media company to support you. It was just not possible to get a message out there by yourself. You would have to get help from a media company.

The internet has changed things though because now everyone can get a message out. We still rely on infrastructure like artists in pre internet times relied on a media company, but this time the platforms are for the most part agnostic as to what happens on them.

The infrastructure which was closely guarded before and only a set few were allowed to use is now available for all. The changes in media over the last couple of decades are already showing what is possible. YouTube, Facebook, Twitter and Reddit allow many people to get their message out that wouldn’t have been able to speak to such a large audience before.

The recent United Airlines debacle was only possible because people filmed it and put it up online for millions to see. Brian Williams was caught in a lie by someone who was able to send a message through social media.

Let me sum up my thoughts on social media and then I will conclude with addressing the title of this article.

Social media is a revolution in communication. Anyone can get their message out and that message can go around the world. This is completely different than any other stage in history. Communication is at the core of the human experience and being able to communicate with millions of people around the world is a revolutionary development.

So, you might ask, how can social media change the world?

This really goes to the core of the human experience. Power is a nebulous and ephemeral thing that nonetheless has a huge effect on our world.

Can things change in this complex world of ours? Are things destined to be driven only by those at the top? No, not anymore. We all are able to make a choice now to let our voices be heard.

Now more than ever we can have our say and actually have our messages go further than just our local community. Our message can go around the world.

Let me close this by going back to the beginning. People will continue to do things until someone tells them to stop. We are all social beings. We learn from our surroundings. If we only ever hear one message, we will only ever know one way of doing things. Social media is allowing the whole world to connect, and that is already starting to change things and I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

So next time you feel guilty because you have been spending too much time on Facebook sharing cat pictures, just know that you are, in your own small way, changing the world 😉

All tea, no shade

By Patience Kelly

An aspiring linguist’s guide to drag/gay lingo

This article contains profanity especially in connotation with reproductive organs, this article does not intend to offend, merely inform and entertain.

You ready for this extravaganza eleganza? Well, you betta werk. Even before I was less obsessed with the wonderful world of languages as I am now, I loved RuPaul’s Drag Race. I can’t do make up, I’m not that good at fashion, but throw a man into a dress, wig, and cha cha heels and I’m sold. What’s more is this show delves into the soul of not only it’s contestants (look no further than Katya’s admissions of drug addiction, Roxxy Andrew’s emotional break down about being left at a bus stop by her mother, or last week’s honest conversation about the Pulse massacre on the gay community.) But it also reaches into the caverns of gay society itself, bringing it’s icons, music, and language into the limelight.

Coined “lavender linguistics” by Gershon Legman in 1941, the speech patterns many of those in the LGBT community are in reality, it’s own language and show that how we speak is not necessarily tied  to gender, but rather sexual orientation, and of course others we identify with. Through shared ideas, and struggles, many gay men and lesbians have created speech communities which also share patterns of speaking.  Membership into these communities is usually based on stereotypes but speakers resist the dominant language using their own to protest, in a way. These differing patterns, and protest lead to a wider grasp of language within gay men and lesbians as parodies imply gay men speak “like girls” when actually, they are using more varied speech than a stereotypical straight or “manly” man. Like many other social communities, specific vocabulary can be used to include or exclude outsiders, and establish identity.

In addition, lesbians and gay men differ in that when lesbians speak, more emphasis is on being a woman than being gay, and this is reflected in speech, however, both have distinctive slang.

For lesbians, ‘dyke’ now has a positive connotation within the community whereas previously it was an insult. For transgender people, clitorises may be referred to as ‘cocks’ and penises as ‘girl dicks’ thus helping the transitioning person cope with parts that may not match gender identities, but as this is about drag lingo specifically, I’ll also be giving you some examples of drag words and words used typically amongst gay men. I know there’s a lot of articles out there like this at the moment but this will be my take, along with some historical information I’ve gained through the documentary Paris is Burning. So, lets get to werk.

‘Werk, is really an inflection of work, particularly implying some sort of achievement, ‘you betta werk’ means, you have to show them what you’ve got. Or ‘serve’ it ‘serve’ in this sense means to present yourself.  With any luck, you’ll be serving ‘fish’ which usually implies vagina, or looking like a biological woman. And you’ll have others ‘gagging’ gag in this sense usually implies critics choking on the vomit of their jealousy, or reacting intensely. You do not want to get ‘read’ which usually implies to insult, although it’s important to note ‘shade’ ‘tea’ and ‘reading’ are all forms of insulting, or gossiping and usually seem to be in a loving manner although it is not unlikely to be ‘read to shreds’ or ‘throw major shade’ which is usually negative. ‘Tea’ is the gossipier of these, usually reading someone you’re not speaking to or who is not around, gathering information and spreading gossip of others. It’s also important to know that reading is considered an art form one should not attempt unless an expert at the shady arts.