Using a linguistic analysis tool called LIWC, I have attempted to pull back the veil of the president’s diction and take a glance in-between the words. After analyzing his SOTU against his previous 4 SOTU’s, key patterns emerged from the data. These numerical nuggets each told a story of the president’s speech, his strategy, his commitment and his frustration.Read More
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There has been an article circulating about variations in English pronunciation and word usage around the continental United States. It is a very good read - find it here. After glancing through the 20 plus maps in the article that delineate the variations in English, a few peaked my interest.
The above map shows what words Americans use to describe a "sweetened carbonated beverage". How do you call it? I most certainly do not say pop - which sounds to me like a phrase pulled from the 1920's.
Coke or Soda: Which One is Better?
However what we can see from this map is the green area in the southern United States - Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee and parts of Georgia. This area uses the word "Coke" to refer to all types of soda. This phenomenon is not new to the marketing world - where one extremely popular, ubiquitous brand becomes the word of choice. The stereotypical examples of this are Kleenex and Bandaid - what do you call a bandaid if it isn't a Bandaid?
Coke: Brand Dissolution
I believe that Coca Cola should be mildly concerned with the linguistic developments in the south. When certain brands become so popular they change the nomenclature of the market - the brand has begun to bleed. When Coke's name, which has been fortified with billions of marketing and branding dollars, is associated with other brands they may begin to enjoy Coke's marketing benefits. Although Coke may rule the South this does not mean that such language cannot spread north or east or west. I think it wouldn't hurt for Coke to invest in a marketing campaign to reassert their position in the market and stem the tide. What do you think?
Just For Fun
I come from RI and we always call the water fountain the bubbler (read: /BUB-lah/) . Is it me or is it weird that Wisconsin and one lone little state in New England use this strange term? #foodforthought
This article touches upon another interesting topic that I have read about before in the world of Linguistic Relativity.
Metaphors of Language Expression
The idea is that certain metaphors are built into how languages express certain topics (I touched up on this in this post). I gave the example of states of being - English relates upward motion with higher states of being and downward motion with lower states of being
- Wake UP
- Get UP
- I'm in HIGH spirits today
- I'm UP on cloud nine
- Put the dog DOWN
- For the surgery we'll put you UNDER
- I'm feeling depressed and LOW today
- I'm sorry he FELL sick today
The English Metaphor of Time & Money
Time is Money. But in English, time REALLY IS related to money. In English, you can "buy time, waste time, save time, spend time." There is no larger metaphor in English that relates to time. This metaphor is pervasive in our expressions of time - it is therefore reasonable to believe that this colors our perception of time. In the US, time is money, something that individuals dare not waste and should make the best of (as the metaphor suggests - I'm not saying we're all cold-hearted, productive workaholics).
What came first: the chicken or the egg timer? So does English reflect this because our culture is based on this way of thinking? Or does this linguistic structure gently help reinforce the believe that time is something to be used constructively.....(I don't have the answer)