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Showing posts from March, 2011


Belatedly made it to the excellent Evolving English exhibition at the British Library. When I arrived, I found a curator talking to a large group of inner-city London teenagers who'd come with their school. "How do you spell Butters ?" he was asking them. The kids volunteered different spellings of the slang term. Museum man then posed another question. "But you don't actually say it like that, do you?" He was referring, I think, to the glottal stop that replaces the t in London English, although phonetics isn't my strong point. The youth were sent off to record slang in a booth for posterity and my attention was drawn to another class. This group was much younger and seemed to attend an exclusive private school. "Joanna! Come over here and listen to a bit of Romeo and Juliet!" The precocious little kids ran hither and thither, listening to samples of regional dialects on a superb interactive display or speeches from statesmen such as JFK and