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May 8, 2020

General Blog Update: May 8, 2020

Hello friends! At the very end of April, I finally succeeded in two goals: re-writing an older article that I no longer agree with entirely, and making a video version of an article.

I normally try to stick to the idea that once something is published, it's done and I shouldn't touch it anymore. This is to prevent the absolutely awful situation of post-publishing editing frenzies, which are not helpful to me or to my readers.

However, sometimes I look at old articles that I made when I was trying to get a grip on how the blog would be structured, and I find that they're lacking somewhat. What really makes me want to rewrite an article is when I no longer agree with the arguments I put forth in it.

So for example, my original article on /i/-breaking in pop music had a weird line of argumentation that went:

  • part of the Southern vowel shift is /i/-breaking. (This easily explains ME-breaking)
  • Southern English has lax HAPPY, so it can't apply /i/-breaking to HAPPY words.
  • Other dialects of English may have tense HAPPY.
  • People aren't linguistic detectives, so they may 'misapply' rules, like /i/-breaking on HAPPY words.
  • This mis-application is what led to 'happay.'

This was ... okay considering the information I had at the time, but it relies on some leaps - particularly the idea of people applying linguistic rules everywhere regardless of where they appear in the source accent. This is a thing that happens, but did it explain why HAPPY-breaking began when it did? Eh, not especially. I don't doubt that it could have been one of the reasons HAPPY-breaking caught on - language change and spread is complex and there may be multiple motivating factors.

My updated argument relies on the fact that Southern England English (always with the Southerners) has /i/-breaking, including in HAPPY words, and that Southern England English is heavily associated with a culturally significant and influential genre of music. I think this explanation is less of a stretch. It's not ironclad, but these chains of associations in pop music rarely are.

As for videos, I've long had people tell me "I would read your articles, but they're too long and so much work. I would totally watch them if they were in video form, though." I do like video editing and I think videos can make it easier to present certain types of information, as well as add a little bit of personality to otherwise rather dry articles. So I made a video.

I'm not "pivoting to video" or anything. The text format is quite integral to this site's identity. I specifically made this site a blog instead of a YouTube channel from the beginning because I wanted more text-based linguistic content. But I think the video aspect can complement the text and vice versa. The video part isn't excruciating to make - it took me less than a month to put together that video. The longest part of making any particular article is always going to be the research and teasing out whether this subject actually deserves an article.

With that in mind, I would like to go through older articles and make video forms of them without having to do huge edits. I also have a handful of articles I would like to re-write: the lax-HAPPY portion of the original "Oh Babih, Babay" article deserves a page all its own, and I have major changes I want to make to the Indie Girl Voice article. (I would also like to not ever have to touch that subject again once it's done. Everyone acts like an expert on the internet, but the topic of "indie voice" reeeaaally brings out the people who have no qualifications and very strong emotions.)

There shall be novelty in the land, worry not! I'm not falling into rehashing old works. A sneak preview of some of what I've been working on is an understanding of the so-called trans-atlantic or mid-atlantic accent, a guide to identifying different accents using a popular video game as scaffolding, and some more on mergers in English.

As I am (thankfully) still employed, I continue running this blog on my free time. I will attempt to continue putting out works at least once a month, ideally more. Many thanks to everyone who reads, watches, and comments, as always.

- Karen

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