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CHAT: cultural interpretation [was Re: THEORY: language and the brain]

From:Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>
Date:Tuesday, July 1, 2003, 22:08
Quoting Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>:

> Quoting Chris Bates <christopher.bates@...>: > > > I would not worry about devoicing z in English! We don't contrast s > > and > > z too much I think since they used to be allophones in English, and > > while it is more usual to hear z and it might give you a bit of an > > accent saying s instead, most of the time it wouldn't cause you to be > > misunderstood or give you too much of an accent! (Except in the > > occasional odd pair that only contrast s and z, like house and to > > house) > > I think pronouncing T, D correctly is far more important than > > differentiating between s and z... > > No-one's actually ever complained about my English* pronunciation on this > point - it's just an oddity in my English I've noted. No-one seems to care > about not voicing /Z/ and /dZ/ either. > > * I've got complaints for the same error in German, tho!
That might have more to do with the cultural background of the people you were talking with. I find that many Americans are very risk-averse when it comes to overt interpersonal conflict with people they don't know well. It can be considered rude to correct people too frequently, depending on the circumstance. This does vary, though. Southerners are more risk-averse than Northerners, which is one reason the stereotype of Northerners in the South is of rude boorishness, however unfair that might be. For example, I was in downtown Chicago eating at a restaurant on Michigan Avenue with some friends several weeks ago. A Russian couple came in and sat down at the counter and placed an order. The waitress asked them "So, where're you guys from?" "Russia," they said. "Oh? Is your cousin Putin or somethin'?" the waitress said bizarrely. "Uh, no... we're originally from Russia, but we're working in Oklahoma." "Oklahoma? Oh, how boring!" the waitress said, turning back to the kitchen. The Russian woman turned to my group and stuck her finger in her mouth in a gesture suggestive of vomiting. I couldn't quite believe what I was hearing, because that's the kind of behavior that lead people in the South to get up and leave in protes, and the waitress should know better. What *really* struck me as strange was when I told this anecdote to a Romanian, he said that was just being "forthright". ========================================================================= Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally, Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of 1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter. Chicago, IL 60637


Andreas Johansson <andjo@...>