You Talkin' To Me?: The Unruly History of New York English - The Dialects of North America (Hardback)
  • You Talkin' To Me?: The Unruly History of New York English - The Dialects of North America (Hardback)
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You Talkin' To Me?: The Unruly History of New York English - The Dialects of North America (Hardback)

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Hardback 216 Pages / Published: 24/09/2020
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From paddy wagon to rush hour, New York City has given us a number of our popular words and phrases, along the way fashioning a recognizable dialect all its own. Often imitated and just as often ridiculed, New York English has its own identity, imbued with the rich cultural history of (as New Yorkers tell it) the greatest city in the world. How did this unique language community develop, and how has it shaped the city as we know it today? In You Talkin' to Me?, E. J. White explores the hidden history of English in New York City - a history that encompasses social class, immigration, culture, economics, and, of course, real estate. She tells entertaining stories of New York's most famous characters, streets, and cultural institutions, from Broadway to the newspaper office to the department store, illuminating a new dimension of the city's landscape. Full of little-known facts - C-3PO was originally written to have a New York accent; West Side Story was originally going to be East Side Story, about Jewish and Christian New Yorkers; and "confidence man" started in reference to a specific New York City criminal - the book will delight lovers of language and history alike. The history of English in New York is deeply intertwined with the story of a famous city trying to develop its own identity. White's account engages issues of class and social difference; the invisible barriers that separate insiders from outsiders; the war between children who fit in and their parents who do not; and the struggle of being both an immigrant to the city and a New Yorker. Following language from The Bowery to The Bronx, You Talkin' to Me? offers a fascinating account of how language moves and changes - and a new way of understanding the language history, not only of New York, but of the United States.

Publisher: Oxford University Press Inc
ISBN: 9780190657215
Number of pages: 216
Weight: 492 g
Dimensions: 218 x 148 x 30 mm


MEDIA REVIEWS
Leading with its intellectual elbow in explanations of everything from Manhattan street names to the accents in World of Warcraft, this imaginative and teacherly account of how urbanites speak indirectly offers an account of how they live. * Leah Price, Public Books *
A colorful account - so colorful I cannot quote the opening lines here - of New York history, class, and culture as well as language. * Marilyn Marks, Princeton Alumni Weekly *
"You Talkin' to Me?" also goes far beyond linguistics, using New York speech to illuminate American culture, history and social class. * Daniel Askt, Wall Street Journal *
The boisterous, jovial narrative tells how the developing city's newspapers and pulp novels introduced a new vocabulary to Americans, from 'con man' to 'street-walker,' 'kick the bucket' and 'go on a bender.' * Janet Brown, Shelf Awareness *
This book takes in a lot of territory, all solidly researched and footnoted. But dry? Fuhgeddaboutit. White is particularly entertaining when she discusses underworld slang from the city's 'sensitive lines of business' and she's also good on song lyrics, from Tin Pan Alley days to hip-hop. * Patricia O'Connor, Literary Review *
As anyone who has had a conversation with me in recent days will attest, the book is a remarkable repository of factoids for enlivening a dinner party or for filling the longueurs at the coffee machine. * Marc Arkin, New Criterion *
Greatly entertaining... * Rufus F., Ordinary Times *
E.J. White of Stony Brook University celebrates the disputatious, never-let-them-call-you-a-sucker language that is New York English * Samuel Johnson, The Economist *
[You Talkin' to Me?] is a heartfelt tribute to, and insightful inquiry into, everyday speech in New York City. * Publishers Weekly *
There are many terrific examples of New York speech throughout this text and White contextualizes them all extremely well. Highly recommended. * Herbert Shapiro, Library Journal, Starred Review *
You Talkin' To Me? offers a delightful eavesdrop of conversations over the centuries, paying particular attention to the city's unmistakable dialect and why it has proceeded to earn such derision. * Matt Sutherland, Foreword Reviews *
Sassy and colloquial, energetic and profane, You Talkin' to Me? is also packed with erudition, color, and history - a magnificent tribute to its unruly subject. * Jennifer Egan, author of Manhattan Beach and A Visit from the Goon Squad *
E. J. White calls New York English 'unruly,' and who will disagree? Dialects jostle one another on the subways and shout over the blaring horns and rumbling trains. In You Talkin' to Me? White takes a big bite out of New York English, spits away the seeds of stereotype, and - given the unique relationship between language and culture - gets to the core of what the City is all about. * Michael Adams, Professor of English and Linguistics at Indiana University and author of In Praise of Profanity *
As a native New Yorker and a sociolinguist, I thought I knew a fair amount about New York City English. But I learned so much more from reading You Talkin' to Me?! And if you're a New Yorker yourself, or know them and love them, you'll get a lot of ammunition here: New Yorkers' ways of talking are just fine, thank you, and E. J. White will explain why. You'll learn a lot, and enjoy every moment while you are learning it. * Robin Lakoff, Professor of Linguistics Emerita, The University of California, Berkeley *
New York City has an extraordinarily rich culture, and the history of that culture lives in its language, from the names of its streets to the lyrics of its Broadway musicals to the slang of its many criminal underworlds. E. J. White celebrates the unique creativity, humanity and humor of this diverse city. You Talkin' to Me? tells more than the story of New York. It tells the story of New Yorkers. * Joseph Schloss, author of Foundation: B-Boys, B-Girls, and Hip-Hop Culture in New York *

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