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Langues et migrations

How people talk now holds clues about human migration centuries ago

Last Updated: 21 Mar 2018

Source: The Conversation, March 2nd, 2018

Often, you can tell where someone grew up by the way they speak.

For example, if someone in the United States doesn’t pronounce the final “r” at the end of “car,” you might think they are from the Boston area, based on sometimes exaggerated stereotypes about American accents and dialects, such as “Pahk the cahr in Hahvahd Yahd.”

Linguists go deeper than the stereotypes, though. They’ve used large-scale surveys to map out many features of dialects. The more you know about how a person pronounces certain words, the more likely you’ll be able to pinpoint where they are from. For instance, linguists know that dropping the “r” sounds at the end of words is actually common in many English dialects; they can map in space and time how r-dropping is widespread in the London area and has become increasingly common in England over the years. Read more... >>>