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sociolinguistics

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    What Misspellings Reveal About Cultural Evolution

    Stable cultural forms do not have to result from close replication; they can emerge continuously out of subtle changes.Illustration by VectorMine / Shutterstock Something about me must remind people of a blind 17th-century poet. My last name, Miton, is French, yet people outside of France invariably misspell it as “Milton”—as in the famed English author, […]

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    Why Working-Class New Yorkers Drop Their “Rs”

    William Labov took something as small as one letter and showed how a subtle detail of our language could tell who we are.Photograph by Everett Historical / Shutterstock In George Bernard Shaw’s play Pygmalion, professor Henry Higgins says: “You can spot an Irishman or a Yorkshireman by his brogue. I can place any man within […]