What do Mike Adams, Todd Starnes, and William Proxmire have in common?

Readers of this blog of a certain age and above are likely to remember a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin named William Proxmire. Sen. Proxmire made a name for himself in the late 1970s and throughout much of the 1980s by issuing what he dubbed "The Golden Fleece Award," which was meant to "honor" public officials who, in Proxmire's view, egregiously wasted taxpayer money. It was a popular and often headline-grabbing device to highlight wasteful spending. There was one big problem with the award, though, that I increasingly appreciated as time went on, to the point where I've referred to the awards as the most ridiculously anti-intellectual and anti-science publicity stunt carried out by a politician for a sustained period of time that I can recall. It's a tradition that continues to this day, where, as I put it, right wing politicians pander to their base by attacking funny-sounding science that they can't understand. Sure, they can make the research sound funny—ridiculous, even—but when looked at dispassionately, from a scientific point of view, the science usually ends up being sound, or at the very least not the pointless parody that politicians launching Golden Fleece-style attacks on it portray.

In no way am I claiming that science is above criticism or that projects of dubious scientific value never receive NIH funding. Just look at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, formerly known as the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine, for near-endless examples. However, when it comes to funding issued by NIH and NSF branches not created to support quackery and pseudoscience, projects "worthy" of such mockery are much, much less common. In any case, it's not surprising that FOX News has joined this disreputable tradition started by William Proxmire, particularly when the subject of the grant involves anything that can be drawn into the culture wars over, say, gay rights. Witness a particularly dim FOX Radio host attack a grant to study differences in obesity prevalence based on sexual orientation:

The National Institutes of Health awarded a Boston hospital more than $1.5 million to figure out why nearly three-quarters of lesbians are overweight — calling the disparities a significant public health issue.

“It is now well-established that women of minority sexual orientation are disproportionately affected by the obesity epidemic, with nearly three-quarters of adult lesbians overweight or obese, compared to half of heterosexual women,” according to a description of the grant.

Wow. I was completely unaware of this disparity. It sounds as though it's a disparity that's worth studying to me as a physician and a scientist. Not surprisingly, Starnes disagrees, quoting, of all people, Tony Perkins:

Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Council, said it is disturbing that tax dollars are being used to fund the study.

“When you look at a nation that’s $17 trillion in debt – there’s a reason. It’s because we do frivolous studies that serve no benefit other than to give a special interest group something to talk about,” he told Fox News. “Why are we issuing grants to study things that have no affect on the well-being of the nation as a whole?”

Of course, a grant of $1.5 million is what, 0.005% of the roughly $30 billion NIH budget, which is in turn less than 0.8% of the $3.9 trillion federal budget. By Perkins' "logic," such as it is, studies examining why, for example, Ashkenazi Jews are more susceptible to breast cancer would have no affect on the nation as a whole, given that only 1.4% of the US population is Jewish. Yes, I chose this example intentionally, given that recent estimates find that 1.8% of men self-identify as gay and 0.4% as bisexual, and 1.5% of women self-identify as lesbian and 0.9% as bisexual, numbers slightly higher than the percentage of Jews in the US population. Does Perkins object to studies that target health concerns of Jews?

Be that as it may, to really ramp up the brain-meltingly antiscientific stupid with respect to medical research, even Todd Starnes is not enough. You need Mike Adams. Take it away, Mike:

This story is not satire. According to a study funded by the National Institutes of Health and awarded to a Boston hospital for more than $1.5 million, some mysterious phenomenon is covertly making lesbians obese, in apparent violation of the dietary laws of cause and effect.

For now, I'm calling this phenomenon "obesity gremlins," and here's how a NIH-funded study describes this extraordinary mystery.

And:

Astonishingly, the NIH is describing how lesbians are being made obese without having any role whatsoever in the process!

Yes, that's the way to demonize science you don't like. Make up a disparaging name for a phenomenon that the scientists aren't even studying and then repeat it ad nauseam. In other words, construct a ridiculous-sounding straw man for what the scientists are actually proposing and then following up with deceptive analogies designed to pander to the scientifically illiterate:

Just to clarify how all this language is being parsed, allow me to explain the obvious:

If you are sitting in a city park and are suddenly impacted by, let's say, a golf ball, then you have just been impacted by an outside force completely out of your control. But if you are sitting in front of a Golden Corral buffet, stuffing your face with genetically modified macaroni and cheese grub, then you are not "affected" by an "epidemic." Nope, you made yourself obese by overeating!

Of course, this idea that any individual should be held responsible for their own actions is completely disavowed across both the medical community as well as the pathetic pop culture of victimization that has overtaken American culture. Now, even when people do things to themselves (or make bad decisions leading to results they don't want), it's somehow never their own fault. How could it be?

According to the rigorous scientific thinking at the NIH, some outside force is "affecting" the lesbians and making them obese in some sort of occult way that apparently violates the laws of cause and effect. The obesity epidemic has STRUCK them, didn't you know? It's kind of like being struck by lightning, but it involves a barrage of pizzas and chocolate truffles instead of really bright flashes of light.

Obesity is a complex phenomenon, and there is no doubt at all that over the last three or four decades Americans have been progressively, on average, getting fatter. You might have seen the animated maps of the United States that show graphically how obesity has become more and more common in each state since the 1980s. To give you an idea, in 1990 less than 15% of the adult population was obese in most states, but by 2010 26 states had obesity rates of 25% or higher and 12 of those had obesity rates of 30% or higher. Nationwide, around two out of three adults in the US are overweight or obese, and one out of three is obese. Worse, obesity is becoming more and more common in children, who are becoming overweight and obese at earlier ages. This is a major health problem, and there are major racial disparities in obesity prevalence.

Now, at a very basic level obesity is about energy in versus energy out, food intake versus energy expenditure. As Steve Novella points out, there are three main hypotheses as to what is causing the obesity epidemic, and they are not mutually exclusive. One is that we are more sedentary, spending less time exercising and more time in front of the computer or television. The second is that people are consuming more calories. A third is that certain types of calories have more of an effect on obesity than others; i.e., the type of calories (fat versus carbohydrates) is what contributes to obesity.

I tend to agree with Steve that the third hypothesis is better for selling fad diets and weight loss supplements but not particularly convincing as an explanation for the obesity epidemic. I also tend to agree that a major contributor is likely to be that Americans are consuming more food, with increased portion sizes and more and easier snacking contributing to the problem. I don't want to make this into a post primarily about what is causing the obesity epidemic, as that is a topic for an Orac epic post, and I simply don't have time for 5,000+ words today. The reason I briefly discussed this is to emphasize that it is a complex topic that we don't understand that well and, more importantly, that it is worth studying. Moreover, studying reasons for disparities in obesity prevalence between different social, racial, and ethnic groups can suggest hypotheses and potential contributors to being prone to become obese. In other words, if there is a group, be it based on sex, race, or, yes, even sexual orientation, that has a higher prevalence of obesity, it is probably worth studying why. How much worth studying is a value judgment, but in the scheme of biomedical research, a single $1.5 million grant is not that much money. Certainly, it's not worthy of such mockery.

Take a look at the description of the study. It turns out that there are virtually no data about why these disparities come about in lesbians:

Despite clear evidence from descriptive epidemiologic research that sexual orientation and gender markedly pattern obesity disparities, there is almost no prospective, analytic epidemiologic research into the causes of these disparities. It will be impossible to develop evidence-based preventive interventions unless we first answer basic questions about causal pathways, as we plan to do. Our study has high potential for public health impact not only for sexual minorities but also for heterosexuals, as we seek to uncover how processes of gender socialization may exacerbate obesity risk in both sexual minority females and heterosexual males. In response to PA-07-409 "Health Research with Diverse Populations," we will rigorously test our innovative gendered biopsychosocial model that is both multilevel and multisystem to explain observed sexual orientation disparities in obesity. We will use longitudinal, repeated measures survey data and also biological data from three youth cohorts: Growing Up Today Study (GUTS) 1 & 2 and National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health), all ongoing prospective cohorts that together total over 47,000 youth living throughout the United States.

Personally, as a heterosexual man myself, I was interested in the observation that gay men have a nearly two-fold decreased prevalence of obesity. So why are lesbians more prone to obesity than straight women and gay men less prone to it than straight men? No one knows, but don't you think it's worth studying? I do. I also wonder why Adams is complaining about this study now, given that it was originally funded in 2011 and runs until 2016. (It's not as though right wing loons haven't been complaining about this study for a while now.) In other words, the study is almost over. In fact, looking at the NIH entry on the grant, I see that it was originally funded as an R01 grant in 2011, and, as a five year grant, will end in 2016 unless the investigators can renew it, which will depend on productivity; i.e., publications. I also note that Starnes and Adams are clueless about how NIH grants work, namely that a five year R01 is treated as five one-year grants for budgetary purposes, that they didn't realize that the total amount funded was actually $3.5 million.

Finally, note the fat shaming implicit in Adams' little screed. He assumes that losing weight is entirely a matter of self-control and that if you're fat it's your own damned fault for choosing to eat too much. We know that the true situation is way more complicated than that, and that willpower-based methods of obesity reduction have a high rate of failure. Of course, Adams is blatantly selective about when he wants to blame only the obese themselves for being obese or blame something else. Of course, elsewhere on Adams' website, it is argued that "calories are not the enemy" and "you are not weak" if you're fat, while other NaturalNews.com writers blame GMOs, big pharma, and anything else he doesn't like for making Americans obese and sick.

Same as it ever was. In fact, Adams goes even further, labeling the research "homophobic" when, if anything, his mockery of the study descends into bigotry when he writes that the reason for the study is because "the simple explanation that "maybe lesbians are just eating too much crappy food all the time" wouldn't generate millions of dollars in government grant money, would it?"

Project much, Mikey?

Is this study a good study? I don't know. There's not enough information in NIH rePORTER for me to judge, and, even if I had the complete grant application in my hand, I still might not be able to tell. I'm not an epidemiologist. However, I trust peer reviewers at the NIH to judge what is and isn't good science far more than I trust Mike Adams.

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So why are lesbians more prone to obesity than straight women and gay men less prone to it than straight men?

I don't know the definitive answer as well, but I can think of some suggestions. Probably gay man are a bit more attracted to males with healthy looking body's, so they want to keep in shape in order to stay sexually attractive. Of course you also have gay males who are more into sugar daddy's. Lesbians seem to look different at their potential partner, so perhaps a slim body is not that important. Something else may be comfort food.

I dislike Miky and co.

But i've to admit that this study look like 'wasted' money. It would have been better to spend this in global obesity study (or even better, prevention) than this. We don't have a clue about what could cause disparities between men and women behavior (beside forced cultural stereotypes) and even less about what could cause sexual orientation. So i really doubt the :

'It will be impossible to develop evidence-based preventive interventions unless we first answer basic questions about causal pathways, as we plan to do"

"causal" pathway ? Huh... At very best this will deliver some pyshcosocial correlative theory. We need more fundamental comprehension of how the brain behave in those ulta specific and complex situation.

Note that those disparties are interesting of course, but the project make fake promises in my opinion.

Of course, my point was that I trust peer reviewers more than non-scientists to determine whether this is or is not a good study.

Overlooked here seems to be the possibility that whatever is causing the differences in body weight in the gay community might give us a handle on how to approach everyone else and end or lessen the obesity epidemic. I think that is worth the money, and I look forward to reading about the findings.

By Michael Finfer, MD (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Orac : Yes i get it. What i meant is that, from an external and taxepayer point of view, I could understand why this study may sound silly. But science and media communication never worked well together...

Few exception of course... Like this awesome blog ! (tada)/

Im looking forward about the findings. Thanks for sharing.

By Medora Centre (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Anomalies are always worth a second look. Understanding cholesterol synthesis and metabolism was driven by observations of a very few people with cholesterol levels many times higher than normal who died very young from coronary vessel blockages. Understanding of how HIV infects immune cells was greatly facilitated by the observation that some people, despite engaging in high-risk sexual behaviors for HIV infection, just didn't get infected. If there are large disparities in rates of obesity based on sexual orientation, there may well be a biochemical explanation as well.

If Mike Adams could find a way to qualify to apply for NIH grant monies, you could be sure he'd do it.

By Chris Hickie (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

I didn't read Mikey yet ...in order to write purely from emotion
.
that disparity is something I've often observed and speculated upon. I have always known more gay men than I have lesbians ( which is my loss/ however my family has both) so I know that *some* of them have a particular attitude about weight that partially resembles that of fashionable, straight women who live in and around large cities. Weight and appearance are extremely important and are 'worked upon' .' Thinner' also appears 'younger' .Perfect grooming also may accompany this attribute.
But then there are bears.

I've encountered the old expression ( from lesbians themselves) ' b___ dy__'( I really don't know if it's offensive or not these days so I'll blank letters out) - a heavy, strong woman who dresses in a more 'masculine' ( whatever that means) fashion. I've thought that perhaps gaining extra weight illustrates ( this is PURELY speculative) that she doesn't want to look at all like the fashionista - she separates herself from that entirely-and that weight itself can invoke a personal sense of power or strength- more like what the traditional male stereotype demanded..
But then there are/ were those so-called 'lipstick' lesbians who presented a more standard feminine image.

Of course all of this represents particular visible groups within larger populations and I'm sure we could find just as many 'lipstick' straight women and metro men. Perhaps so-called millenials are breaking down many of these groupings through fashion choices and styles of self-presentation which even affect people as old as me...
Most of my clothes could easily be worn by a guy- it's an androgynous chic that is now very lucrative for fashion designers and clothing manufacturers to pursue. As one of my gentlemen often asks, "Is that my shirt or yours?"

Anecdotally, I have three youngish gay men and one straight guy living next door and they seem to strikingly bear out the stereotypes ( the gay fellows are thin and the other is a little heavier than average). Another stereotype I've *felt* is that there are locations where people are thinner on the average than others - I feel more *average* there but quite *thin* in other usually more rural locales.

As I said, this is purely observation and speculation but I don't necessarily value one style over another- it's what people want for themselves, who THEY are- nothing to do with me.

Do I imagine that there's something *physiological" going on- who knows? I know that there's the meme that by measuring relative finger lengths you can differentiate types ( gay man-straight female vs straight man- lesbian) but I don't know whether that's valid

Now I'll read that Idiot's article.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

He is an idiot.

It should be noted that Mike may have been overly focused upon weight himself:
the old Health Ranger site ( since scrubbed) had images of him posed in a sleeveless shirt for his fans along with measures of his height, weight and blood chemistry. His bio ( both the old and the present one @ HR.com) declare that he was heavy and sick at age 30 with type 2 diabetes. BUT he straightened up and flew right to get lean and mean.

More recently, I've noticed that he has been increasingly photographed wearing his lab coat which may cover much.
His face looks heavy, lab coats don't cover that.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Renate #1 The answer may be behavioural, but it would be very useful to understand what the drivers of any pathological or beneficial behaviours actually are. A study of a minority might offer insights more readily available than a general population study. And with the potential for some genetic/biochemical underpinning of sexual orientation, there is the further potential for this study to reveal differences in calorie handling related to injested source (carb v fat). I happen to agree with Orac and Steve Novella that this is actually the least pormising angle of attack, but it needs to be addressed if only to confirm a null hypothesis so science can move on. To confuse things though the UK appears be muddying the waters of just what is distinctly gay/lesbian versus the state of being hetero. http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/if-half-of-young-people-are-a-littl… This survey is somewhat at varience with Orac's US circa 1% figures - maybe it's our unfracked, GMO free drinking water that's sendings us all Bi ?

By Orlac Not Orac (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

More speculation- non-physiologically ?-

Do people- male, female, gay, straight, any age- who follow fashion aim for lower weights and try to control weight more than those who aren't as concerned?**

It's not just mimicking models' appearance but awareness of how clothes LOOK - how they hang- on a thinner frame.

** then we might ask why do they choose to like fashion? Is that somehow physiological? Hormonal? Who knows.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Not surprisingly, Starnes disagrees, quoting, of all people, Tony Perkins:

The Family Research Council - far more obsessed with gay sex than any gays are.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

I was somewhat agnostic about the study's aim but Denice and Dr. Hickie made excellent points about why this disparity should be studied.

The Family Research Council – far more obsessed with gay sex than any gays are.

Isn't that the organisation the sexual-molester Josh Duggar recently left?

By Science Mom (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Proxmire is a keen example of why we should not pontificate on things we don't properly understand.

He gave the award to a study of the sex life of the screw-worm fly. The results were used to create sterile screw-worms that were released into the wild[, eliminating] this major cattle parasite from the US and reducing the cost of beef across the globe.

He also gave the award to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) for their Search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI) program, supporting the scientific search for extraterrestrial civilizations. Proxmire later withdrew his opposition to the SETI program.

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Does Perkins object to studies that target health concerns of Jews?

No, but remember -- the Jews are God's chosen people and lesbians are sinners out to destroy the moral fabric of American society. Because sexual orientation is a choice, y'know.

They could be happy and thin and straight and have lots of babies if they just chose to follow Jesus (like the Duggars!)

MA@12: You beat me to it. Tony Perkins is one of those people that, if you should ever find yourself agreeing with him, you are probably on the wrong side of that issue. As repeatedly documented on the Slacktivist blog, Perkins is a particularly obnoxious sort of faux Christian who takes an even more casual attitude than most such toward bearing false witness.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

So why are lesbians more prone to obesity than straight women

One word: beer.

(No, but seriously, lesbians also drink significantly more than straight women. I have my suspicions as to why*.)

and that weight itself can invoke a personal sense of power or strength- more like what the traditional male stereotype demanded..

That's part of it too, as is generally not giving a f*ck, which is related.

*Back in my apartment, which I'm not staying in this week, because I'm taking care of a doggy, I have a collection of pretty much all of Alison Bechdel's Dykes to Watch Out For strips. I'm thinking of one in particular where two characters are sitting in bed and one is reading the paper, which reports that lesbians, esp. of color, experience significantly more stress than straight women, etc. "So I guess 'stress' is the new word for oppression."

the Jews are God’s chosen people

I'll hand the microphone to Tevye: "I know, I know. We are Your chosen people. But, once in a while, can't You choose someone else?"

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Apologies for that really bad grammar @13.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ JP:

You know, I wonder if there might be changing attitudes about physical power and strength amongst women in general - making it not as desirable to be stick-thin as it was in the 1990s- that may also reflect upon bodily strength as symbolic of other strengths-
it has to be symbolic - we can't all be Serena Williams.

There have been echoes of this throughout feminism but it seems to be more obvious these days..And maybe, just maybe, it may make ( perhaps) younger women more tolerate of weight and not as vigilant or obsessive as they could have been.

-btw- I can tell you stories about straight male obsessional concerns with weight and appearance that would curl ( or straighten) your hair (as the case might be).
Oh wait, you don't have hair.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

"...might give us a handle on how to approach everyone else and end or lessen the obesity epidemic."

Perhaps, but in my admittedly small sample size, the homosexual men I know are obsessed with their bodies and exercising. Most aren't particularly healthy eaters either with many tending towards eating disorders.

I don't know if their choices are a practical or desirable trait with the exception of being in shape. Hopefully the study will shed some light into this but I can tell you now that 2 hours in the gym each day is out of the equation for me. I'll just have to die relatively young.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Denice:

I used to teach at Mils, a women's college which had a high percentage of lesbian students. Within that community (in which 'dyke' is a term of pride), the butch/femme distinction is a non-controversial 'fact-of-life'. Many couples included one partner who was more one-than-another. Femmes were not typically 'lipstick lesbians' into makeup and fashion. They were simply not easily distinguishable from the range of 'breeder' college women. Butches, on the other hand, groomed and dressed in ways clearly derived from masculine codes, yet modified in ways such that they didn't literally look like men. And while butches might have more interest in typically 'guy' things (e.g. fixing cars instead of baking) when you got to know them, there was almost never any sense they were 'trying to be men'.

There was no absolute correlation between these 'sub-genders' and body morphology or conventional ideals of facial attractiveness. While heavy and/or plain women were somewhat more likely to be butch, that was anything but universal. The most butch of all my students carried no extra weight, and had features that would be pretty universally considered 'really cute' while her femme partner was modestly obese and 'average-looking' at best. We also had butch students who were actress-or-fashion-model slim. This was 15 years ago now, and I've forgotten some of the detail, but I distinctively recall my surprise at discovering so many students, and especially the butches, were the opposite of stereotype.

To venture a couple purely speculative cultural/psychological factors, I'd observe that by that time (late 90s) weight was no longer a sign of physical strength in the culture at large, but considered a sort of weakness or handicap – the medical perils of obesity being well known by the time. 'Strong' meant 'fit'. However, I did not see the butch students as attempting to code 'strength' in their manners. Of the couple I mentioned before, the butch was the more quiet and reserved, and he femme the more outgoing and 'stronger' personality. It seemed to me that butches, at least in part, were trying to negotiate a style that said to themselves and the world 'I do not fit your categories'. I found it a projection of 'difference' and 'limnality', not a secret desire to 'be a bro'. A good number of our butch students, had they not affected that style would have been hit-on constantly by guys when out in 'the general public'. I'd guess that a avoiding unwanted attention, and clearly signaling the sort of attention one does want is merely practical for some people.

Anyway, however things had been before, by the late 90s it was clear women did not need to gain weight to do that. Clothing, hairstyle, body language, vocabulary, etc. were more than capable of defining the role.

(BTW, the butch students didn't follow the 'angry dyke' stereotype either. I'm a nominally straight guy – not macho, but not at all 'metrosexual' (back then I used to consider Michael Moore a sort of kindred spirit) – and I got along equally well with the lesbian students across the gender coding range. What I did find made a difference was age. Mills had a number of older 'return-to-college' students in their 40s or 50s. For historical reasons, I'd guess, lesbians in that age group tended to be much more wary of and hostile to my moderate 'guy-ness' regardless of where there were on the butch-femme continuum.

Which is just to say that the rationales in favor of the study, as a good avenue to explore factors in obesity that might be applicable to a much wider range of patients, makes a lot of sense to me. As for Mikey and Fox... well what are their screeds but evidence there's probably something quite good in whatever they're attacking?

-btw- I can tell you stories about straight male obsessional concerns with weight and appearance that would curl ( or straighten) your hair (as the case might be).
Oh wait, you don’t have hair.

Oh, I've got a few of my own. My advisor is sort of adorably vain - one story which was related by an "academic sister" of mine involved them getting quite drunk one night at a conference, and him knocking on her hotel room door early in the morning (before a panel he was on, I think) asking for not aspiring, not a glass of water, but moisturizer. Specifically, the best she had.

It's wavy when it's long, btw, which it hasn't been in a long time. (My hair.)

In any case, I do more or less fit a certain feminine ideal, (probably NSFW) but it is not the fashion industry's.

What doesn't seem to have been expressed clearly (or I just didn't read it right) by the pro-study people Orac quoted should be made clear: Is obesity among WSW caused by social or cultural factors, or is it in some other way a concomitant of whatever determines sexual orientation?
As a practical point, there is an intrinsic value to seeing if there is some possible intervention in a subset that is approximately one percent of the population.
Going beyond that, the high prevalence of obesity in a fairly distinct subset of the population constitutes a kind of natural experiment that can enlighten research in a range of biosciences, medical disciplines, and behavioral sciences. Think of the huge prevalence of type 2 diabetes (~38%!) in the Pima Indian nation, which has been the subject of valuable research of various kinds for the last fifty years.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Orlac
I don't deny it is worth studying why obesity is different with gay and lesbian people and even if it's behavioural. Obesity seems to be a big problem, so it's worth to study, why certain groups are more prone to it, than others.

Old Rockin' Dave @24 -- I often have occasion to be around Tohono O'Odham ("People of the Desert" in their language), the close cousins of the Pimas. Apparently they adapted for many generations to an extremely sparse diet, and now that they have access to the gusher of calories that is the modern American diet, many of them have become very overweight.

I imagine someone is exploring just what genetic factors are involved, and how much is cultural (fry bread, anyone?)

By palindrom (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Perkins said

“When you look at a nation that’s $17 trillion in debt – there’s a reason. It’s because we do frivolous studies that serve no benefit other than to give a special interest group something to talk about,

Anyone with a brain would realize ... or could quickly verify ... that so-called "frivolous studies" are likely near the bottom on any list of significant factors that have contributed to the U.S. national debt.

Of of course, that's not the audience Fox aims for.

Speaking of the debt though, what part do "faith based" organizations, like the FRC, play?

http://www.newsweek.com/are-churches-making-america-poor-243734

I'm not sure why Adams would shoot his mouth off on this issue as I can't see where it would boost his bottom line to do so.

Unless of course he's laying the foundation for a political career and is just trying to build support among the right wing idiot block as a means to propel him into the state legislature.

An interesting thing to note about that "three quarters of lesbians are overweight/obese vs. half of straight women" is that that statistic comes from a study with a sample size of 5,460 heterosexual women and... 87 lesbians.

@ DGR:

I've wondered myself if he fancies a political career.
Like the other idiot @ PRN, he imagines himself to be a great leader/ innovator and spends an inordinate amount of time discussing political and economic issues. I thought that they were supposed to be HEALTH experts- if you read his articles, sometimes it's more about politics and conspiracies.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@JP: 87 lesbians???? Good grief. While I can't claim to know 87 lesbians (I might, I just don't care about people's sexual preferences unless it's important...), the ones I DO know run the gradient from obese to overweight to average to slender to muscular. And a lot of it is just "them" - from the one who's a triathlete and her partner who is a personal trainer, the couple who are average, the couple where one is very heavy and her partner is average. Based on *MY* statistics, only 37% of all lesbians are overweight/obese, compared to the heterosexual/bisexual women I know, where about 50-60% are overweight/obese...

I thought that they were supposed to be HEALTH experts- if you read his articles, sometimes it’s more about politics and conspiracies.

Dunning-Kruger at its finest, with a garnish of crank magnetism. Of course Adams et al. can't just focus on health--that would be boring. So they have to invent reasons why their followers should follow them, and what better way to do that than to claim that they are letting their readers in on secrets that the PTB don't want people to know. Once you posit that the government is in on your pet conspiracy theory, taking an anti-government position is a logical follow-on.

I have noticed lately, from political sites I read, that US politics, especially of the right-wing Republican variety, is increasingly a grifter's game. Adams would fit in well with that crowd--he wouldn't even stand out all that much. It helps the grifters that, thanks to the Citizens United decision, there are effectively no limits on what rich people can spend on political campaigns, so it makes sense for Adams et al. to trawl for some of that vast amount of cash that is swimming by. Would Adams be crazy enough to be a candidate? Maybe. But maybe he's just smart enough to stick with being a campaign "advisor". Unless his ego gets the better of him.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter wrote:

Do people- male, female, gay, straight, any age- who follow fashion aim for lower weights and try to control weight more than those who aren’t as concerned?

The opposite may also be going on: thinner people find it more rewarding to delve into fashion because designer clothes are made for them.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

^ Here's a link (PDF) to the study I mentioned. The sample sizes can be found at the top of Table I on p. 3.

Mikey's up there with the best. Sarah Palin did the same type of thing “when she explained to the crowd how "[tax] dollars go to projects that have little or nothing to do with the public good — things like fruit fly research in Paris, France. I kid you not."

Except it wasn't fruit flies, it was not Paris and one good reason for funding the research was that the fly in question was also attacking California olive groves. http://www.livescience.com/5186-misdirected-criticism-palin-fruit-fly-r…

I can just hear Mikey, Proxmire & Palin telling Sir Alexander Fleming not to waste time on molds; a little bleach will kill them all ... Or, that Turing guy's queer; get rid of him, he's not the sort we want at Bletchley Park.

@ 31 Eric Lund
Would Adams be crazy enough to be a candidate
Given the current Republican line-up he'd be hard pressed to make the running.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Eric:

You are correct. He has been hawking right-ish causes at least since the economic crisis. Now he links to people like Michael Snyder via collapse.news who foresee COLLAPSE whilst the other idiot has Gerald Celente ( Trends Journal) predicting another economic Ragnarok before year's end.

Newer readers may not be familiar with my accounts of both their economic predictions that occurred in 2008-2009, so I'll briefly summarise :
Null especially held that the bottom would just keep dropping out without any recovery EVER. At the lows of the DJIA ( March 2009) he instructed his followers to take all of their money out of banks, bonds, stocks and put it into gold, silver ( coins, for easy spending) and farm land.
Both deny recovery ever happened.

OBVIOUSLY I didn't follow his advice and guess what? I'm fine. Everything 'came back'. The DJIA never hit 3000 but has hovered around 18000.Celente now says that gold prices are 'fixed' to be low. Then there's Stansberry ( see Brian Deer.com)

HOWEVER these alties have enthralled followers ( see comments after Mike's articles or hear phone responses to Null) who would do whatever they recommend. Null has a map and listing of where to move to avoid AGW and gang riots when the Final Collapse occurs.

I could see Adams looking for a political position - perhaps not running himself but sidling up to a candidate who supports similar nonsense to his own. He likes Trump. Earlier on, both of them supported- OBVIOUSYL- lower, flat income taxes, a national sales taxs and less government regulations. Both liked Rand Paul. Null supports third parties and Nader.

There's so much more but that's enough for now

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Andreas Johansson:

That makes sense.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Michael Finfer, MD@4:

Overlooked here seems to be the possibility that whatever is causing the differences in body weight in the gay community might give us a handle on how to approach everyone else and end or lessen the obesity epidemic.

QFT. Scientist sees interesting pattern. Scientist conducts research to understand and explain that pattern, thus hopefully generating useful information that helps us to understand our world better. It took the human race a couple thousand years to figure out how to do this really well, and in a couple hundred has given us effective medicine, microwave ovens, the atomic bomb, global data networks, and more morons than ever before.

FOX News and Mike Adams denigrate scientific research to play to prejudices and purses of self-servingly ignorant narcissists who wouldn't know fact from fantasy, and have no wish to either; something FOX, Adams, and their like are only too happy to reinforce. But hey, as Bacon said, Knowledge itself is Power; he did not say it had to be right.

The Law of Universal Projection leads me to predict that when Mike Adams isn't sounding off against sceintific research into obesity and blaming fatness on personal vices, then he's selling magical weight-loss herbal compounds to his customers.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Re W. proxmire and the golden fleece. I recall a Canadian M.P. (Member of Parliament) publishing a list of gov't grants (through its various funding agencies) that he thought were a waste of money. One grant was to a mathematician for research in "Lie Theory" which the politician assumed had to do with human behavior. Sophus Lie (pronounced lee) was a Norwegian mathematician , after whom many important structures in algebra are named.

By DanielWainfleet (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Quoth Mike Adams :"They're obese because they eat too much because they choose to. Now you know everything about it. No need for research. And the NIH must believe that their obesity is not caused by over-eating ,or else why would they fund a study?" This is amazing. I wish I could think like that. I could make a lot of money.

By DanielWainfleet (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Maybe it's something stupidly simple?
For example, if there is cultural association between women and cooking, and result of that association is that number of women in household corellates with average calorie intake... well, I'll leave the rest as an exercise for the reader.

Does this mean that there is no need for Adams-endorsed “weight-loss supplements” either?

How could a supplement** help weight loss? Wouldn't you need a deficit for that?

**Which involves adding something.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ puppygod:

You may have something there.

Some more speculation.

I was thinking about, as a social cause, a type of insularity, remaining from less enlightened times, where lesbians spend time with friends/ partners at home and THEN more food-oriented activities occur.

BUT then, isn't there a belief ( true or not) that men prefer women with a small waist;hip ratio - in the old days it meant she wasn't prego- because who ( in hungry primitive times) would want to foster non-genetically related children?

So lesbians may not be looking for men and may not need to keep the waistline under control.

Or maybe hormonal differences lead to changes in body fat.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

lesbians may not be looking for men

This is probably a safe bet.

But JP, they have SO many uses other than the obvious one.
They can be smart, funny, entertaining, some can write or draw REALLY well! Or even play musical instruments.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

But JP, they have SO many uses other than the obvious one.

You can't go shark-fishing without the proper bait!

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

herr doktor, I'm not that mean.

But I do let them lift heavy appliances for me or drive me over mountain tops or alongside cliffs- which I hate doing myself.. It makes them feel good about themselves.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Whenever I have something to be assembled at work I let them help. They get such a kick out of it.

Sophus Lie (pronounced lee) was a Norwegian mathematician , after whom many important structures in algebra are named.

Kinda helpful in particle physics, as well.

But when Proxmire is called to mind, I tend to think of Ronald Hutchinson (Proxmire eventually settled).

They can be smart, funny, entertaining, some can write or draw REALLY well! Or even play musical instruments.

Some of us can even reach as high as the top shelf.

Look, I'm playing to my strengths, OK?

By Rich Woods (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

But I do let them lift heavy appliances for me or drive me over mountain tops or alongside cliffs- which I hate doing myself.. It makes them feel good about themselves.

I do seem to recall that you're not much of one for cooking, either. Just sayin'.

# 39 DanielWainfleet

Myron Thompson or perhaps Vic Toews?

I kinda miss Myron. He'd be an asset to Stevie today.

By jrkrideau (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

But JP, they have SO many uses other than the obvious one.
They can be smart, funny, entertaining, some can write or draw REALLY well! Or even play musical instruments.

Hey, some (many) of my best friends are men, as they say. In fact, there may have possibly been some tomfoolery and even feelings with some of them. Including one of the gay ones, because life wasn't weird enough.

One of my straight girlfriends, too. Seriously, I'm only moderately cute; I don't know what it is.

But I do let them lift heavy appliances for me or drive me over mountain tops or alongside cliffs- which I hate doing myself.. It makes them feel good about themselves.

When I was in a play a while back, hanging around in the dressing room, the director's assistant, who was about 5 feet tall and maybe 90 pounds soaking wet, was trying to open a jar of curry. She looks at me: "Are you strong?"

"...Yes."

And then I opened the jar for her. I did get a kick out of it, although I am not actually a guy, at least I wasn't the last time I checked.

@ Narad:

I have other more esoteric skills.

@ Rich Woods:

I suspect that you sell yourself short.:

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ JP:

You have an interesting combination of intact reality testing and the gift of poetry.

-btw-
One of my creatures, who is 6' tall, works out in a gym, plays tennis, always comes to yours truly BECAUSE he can't open jars.
I know the magic trick.
Hilariously, I have thin, delicate hands that look entirely useless. They are not. I can draw and play the piano a little.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Science Mom

Isn’t that the organisation the sexual-molester Josh Duggar recently left?

Yes and now it has been revealed that he had an Ashley Madison account. Colour me unsurprised.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

jrkrideau

Myron Thompson or perhaps Vic Toews?

I kinda miss Myron. He’d be an asset to Stevie today.

At least he was colourful Bufoon. His successor is merely a grinning idiot. In the last election that Myron ran in, the green party got 10% of the vote in his constituency, their highest percentage in any riding in the country. Allthoug some of this was probably from Banfff and Canmore, I think a lot of it was a protest vote by embarrassed Conservatives.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Ooooo, self-righteous molester prick Josh Duggar is in the Ashley Madison data dump.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Orac, your pull quotes don't do justice to how "dickish" the tone of Adam's article is. Reading it straight through makes me wonder how anyone could follow him.

You have a pretty brutal frontal attack but at least you do it with sophistication. His piece reads like it was written by a bully in junior high.

Yes, color me surprised again. It is just that up until now the closest I've ever gotten to "health nuts" has been Chris Kresser. I admit he appears to be a greedy sort by marketing all of the products he does on his website, but I can not imagine him ever writing a anything like that article.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Some of us can even reach as high as the top shelf.

Well, if you're pouring, make mine a Glenfarclas.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

Well played, herr doktor.

And in that case, I'll take Grey Goose.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 19 Aug 2015 #permalink

@JP #33

I'm reading the study you linked, but it seems the only measure of obesity is based on the Body Mass Index (BMI).
If that's the case, the disparity in those two groups is nothing mysterious, as BMI is a very poor indicator of obesity.

@ Not a Troll:

For sure.
I am always amazed by the level of discourse emanating from him and the other woo-meister. Remember that they're trying to pass themselves off as well-educated, erudite experts across the board ( see their bios) and they come off sounding like jack@asses. Teenaged jack@sses at that.

Of course, they DO want to speak their audiences' language but I venture that they are really quite similar themselves. People who have studied developmental psych and language( Ahem!) can usually place where a person's abilities measure up in comparison to others.

You mention Orac:- and I agree- he sounds like what he is- a well-educated doctor who also has studied areas outside his field- either for university credit or personal interest, Sometimes you read a commenter ( Kreb comes to mind) and before you read about his background you just KNOW- this guy has been to graduate school. There are quite a few like that here @ RI. What do they have in common? One is command of their native language so that they may express their ideas with ease; their jokes and metaphors are not extremely obvious and based purely upon physical resemblence,; there is word play, puns, irony and sarcasm, not slapstick.

These are more abstract, formal skills that develop during and throughout adolescence - not everyone does well College students and graduate students are more likely to be well versed in this than are secondary school students..

Most adults are skilled enough in person perception to differentiate levels - and so do audiences when they see a film or television show- is this for adults or kids? That's another formal skill itself although it has its start in childhood.

I sometimes laugh aloud when I hear Gary Null mispronouncing words/ names from science, literature or general information that most educated adults never botch - which is hilarious because he discusses philosophers - whose names he gets wrong **- or talks about the brain - and stumbles over important terms as well as malapropising items from politics or economics and mispronounding simple words from the news - a recent example, el Nino.

Mike goes for the lower rungs by usually resorting to *argumentum ad n-azium* ad nauseum. He calls people shills often or resorts to charges of corruption wheresoever his eyes alight.

I think that if a better educated person were trying to play this game, it would sound better. There are charlatans who have better educations and more facility with language. If they are also more skilled in understanding people, their ruses would also be less transparent. I can name quite a few.

** he especially botches names, places or terms in French, Spanish, German or Italian which he pronounces as they are spelled in English. The old Mozart phenomenon.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

he especially botches names, places or terms in French, Spanish, German or Italian which he pronounces as they are spelled in English

That is, sadly, an all-too-common trait among Anglophones. Even educated types like the ones who work for the BBC: they insist that Nicaragua has five syllables, not four. And many places in the US are named after places in Europe that the settlers knew how to spell, but not pronounce: Versailles (pronounced VER-sails), IN; Milan (pronounced MY-lan), NH; New Madrid (pronounced MAD-rid), MO; and so forth. Not to mention the cities in Texas (and other southwestern states) with Spanish-derived names pronounced as if they were English, like Amarillo (in addition to getting most of the vowels wrong, the double L should sound like an initial Y, or the LLI in "million").

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Eric Lund:

Oh I know.
Those are example fro the GENERAL Public and names that may be traditionally pronounced wrong for a century or more.
But he poses as an expert tin science, art, literature, philosophy, politics, economics and religion, one would think that with that devastating background, he shouldn't mispronounce or mis-use much. Even funnier is his tripping over place names in the UK - anything -cester or -ham- don't you learn that in primary school or by watching the news?

I doubt he studied any foreign languages- wasn't that a university requirement for people in his age group( 70+)?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Eric -- the Midwest is particularly bad at this. I have to remind myself to pronounce a certain town in Alexander County, Illinois to rhyme with the syrup and not the capital of Egypt.

Oddly enough, Bourbonnais is pronounced correctly even by the people who live there.

@ shay:

Right. There are probably reasons why something is pronounced not exactly in its original foreign form. I think especially of Anglophones butchering Spanish place names- is this tradition ( "Our ancestors were proudly illiterate in Spanish") or is it a way to say that they just don't like the Spanish influences? Or perhaps it's the same with other dang'd foreign words?

I just saw an article about mis-pro... I mean,
*Anglicised * French names in the UK- the writer asks if they indeed still resent the Norman Conquest?
Actually, I am named similarly in Franglaise ( vs Denise)

Interestingly, the Russian tennis player, Anna Sharapova, said that she has stuck with how English-speaking announcers mis-accentuate her name ( it should be stressed on the secon,d not the third syllable).Similarly the UK-US 'debate' over which syllable to stress in words used more frequently than a sports' star's name.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

"No, but seriously, lesbians also drink significantly more than straight women"

A straight woman I know drinks wine and beer like it's going out of style, but it hasn't bred any lesbianism in her that I can detect (and I've looked), more's the pity.

"is that that statistic comes from a study with a sample size of 5,460 heterosexual women and… 87 lesbians."

Sigh. That's not even as much as the front row of an Ani DiFranco concert.

I wonder where bisexuals lie. I don't think we're as infrequent as the masses make us out to be. :\ But I'm sure a study of that would be considered a Waste Of Our Precious Tax Dollars.

By Roadstergal (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Roadstergal:

I think that Kinsey would have agreed with you if you consider his scale.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

Even funnier is his tripping over place names in the UK – anything -cester or -ham- don’t you learn that in primary school or by watching the news?

I don't know what part of the US Null is from, but if he spent time in New England there is no excuse for not knowing how to deal with "-cester". Worcester and Gloucester are prominent cities in Massachusetts, pronounced similarly to their namesakes in England (possibly excepting the dropped final R in the New England accent; I don't know if the West Midlands accent shares that feature). But I'll give him a break on "-ham", because that's a tricky one. The H is usually not pronounced in the UK, but many of those towns have US namesakes in which the H is pronounced (Birmingham being the best-known example, as it's the name of both the UK's third-largest city and Alabama's largest city), and there are places in the UK with names like West Ham. Then there is the question of what to do if an S or T precedes the H: do you combine them into the implied phoneme or not? There isn't a general rule: IINM you use the SH sound in Amersham but ignore the H in Topsham.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

Personally, I couldn't bear to listen. It's tough enough to hear so many in the U.S. media mispronounce Iran as EYE-ran and Iraq as Eye-rack.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Roadstergel #72

Let's not forget that alcohol is estrogenic, but then so is spearmint.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

Around 10 years ago, I was told that because his views were so radical, Null was banned from EXPO West – the largest trade show for dietary supplements and similar products in the U.S., if not the world.

By Lighthorse (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Denice Walter #67.

Yes, I very much enjoy the greater intelligence here whether informative or comedic. I think it is the main reason I visit.

It reminds me a lot of the years when I worked with pharmacists. I was on the evening shift so there was only a pharmacist and I for the entire (small) hospital. Since co-worker politics were largely nonexistent we were at liberty to have some interesting conversations when it was slow. And, when it was a hellish night, intelligent humor functioned as decompression.

I do a fair job of keeping up with the exchanges here. And, of course, there is always the ability to research on the internet for things over my head. The only person that is able to confound me on a consistent basis is Narad. About 20% of time I don't have the slightest idea what he talking/joking about. However, since he strikes me as someone who dabbles in being a Renaissance Man, I don't judge myself too harshly that his wide variety of esoteric knowledge leaves me in the dirt sometimes.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Eric:

He's from W. Virginia and Mike is from Kansas- not that their problems should reflect upon those places. They are both 'special cases' - of what, I'm not sure.

He's supposed to be a world traveller who's been all over the US and Europe. And seriously, if you study AGW and interview *hundreds* of experts would you still misprounce 'el Nino'?

What these blunders tell me is that he's incapable of learning, and as a solpicist, too overly sure of his own correctness to ever look into alternative solutions- THIS may explain his support for totally mis-guided positions concerning medicine, politics et al.

@ Lighthorse:

EYE rack and EYE ran are amongst the worst I've ever heard. Although mis-pronunciation of Italian names like Mantegna/ Castagna is right up there as well.

Null has also been banned from many public television fund drives in major cities like NY and LA ( and all Pacifica save NY). He remains on smaller PBS like Denver, Atlanta, Florida and elsewhere. It's a plot, he claims, by the Rockefellers because he 'exposed' the evils of sugar and they own companies that profit.

@ Not a Troll:

I'm glad that your enjoy our banter. Most people can recognise differences easily: even primary school students simplify their messages when told to speak to a younger child rather than one who is the same age.

BUT audiences who cherish the rampant idiocy engendered by wankers like these two may have problems seeing through the posturing, embellishment and lying. They believe them when they say how absolutely f@cking brilliant they are EACH and EVERY day. They can't tell they're being played and set up to buy a bill of goods

And Narad!
Narad can be especially cryptic but that's part of his charm. When you know him better you may understand some of his references. He is a fine fellow of diverse skills.

BUT he is not the baby that I misplaced in Victoria Station in 1983. I really thought he was for a while.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 20 Aug 2015 #permalink

Around 10 years ago, I was told that because his views were so radical, Null was banned from EXPO West – the largest trade show for dietary supplements and similar products in the U.S., if not the world.

Doesn't surprise me; they're just crooks. He's a loon.

I’m reading the study you linked, but it seems the only measure of obesity is based on the Body Mass Index (BMI).
If that’s the case, the disparity in those two groups is nothing mysterious, as BMI is a very poor indicator of obesity.

Yeah, I have to say I wasn't terribly impressed with that study in general - sample sizes, metrics, pretty much everything.

If that’s the case, the disparity in those two groups is nothing mysterious, as BMI is a very poor indicator of obesity.

Squaring height in the formula strikes me a choosing mathematical simplicity over accuracy. If tall people did not tend to be more gracile than short people, the exponent should be 3. Even allowing for this a more reasonable value would be somewhere between 2 and 3 rather than 2. There would still be the problem of the very muscular and the unusually shaped.

By Militant Agnostic (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter,

I just saw an article about mis-pro… I mean,
*Anglicised * French names in the UK- the writer asks if they indeed still resent the Norman Conquest?

I do*. It still appears to be true that wealthier Brits with French-derived names can trace their good fortunes back to William the Bastard. The stereotypical English public schoolboy, tall, blond-haired, blue-eyes, no chin, may be related to Norman ('Norseman') Viking genes.

I find it interesting that, as I'm sure most people are aware, the Norman Conquest has left its mark on the English language, with, for example, the Anglo-Saxon word 'pig' being used for the live animal and the French-derived 'pork' for the meat, the English peasant more familiar with the former and vice versa with the Normal aristocrat. The same is true of cow/beef and sheep/mutton.

* Not really, I just resent privilege where there is still deprivation.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Should have added that I would have expected those with French-derived names to prefer to be descended from sophisticated French aristos rather than from Anglo-Saxon peasants (as I am).

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Krebiozen:

Did you ever read 'Tess of the D'Urbervilles'? Where Darbyfield derives from D'Urberville? It involves commentary about nobility and a finale at Stone'enge !

At ant rate, we have a family tale that we are indeed a product of that very conquest - which I doubt- more likely we sold shoes to them along La Manche- "Hey Guillaume, we're distant cousins!" but at least the story led to interesting Frenchified Christian names ( Alexandre, Josephine, Denice etc) and lessons/ trips to France over the past 100 years.

My relatives ( their father is from Ireland) have a 'fitz' name which is supposedly derived from 'fils'. That may be more likely to be true.

I also doubt that I am related to John Walter of the Times or Bruno Walther or Jean-Paul Gaulthier. ( I'd like that last one) BUT then everyone is really somehow related aren't we because of mitochondrian Eve?

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter,

Did you ever read ‘Tess of the D’Urbervilles’? Where Darbyfield derives from D’Urberville? It involves commentary about nobility and a finale at Stone’enge !

:-) I never read it, but I did listen to a BBC radio adaptation when I was a kid that had quite an effect on me, especially the 'enge bit (in fact you just reminded me of what that radio play was).

At ant rate, we have a family tale that we are indeed a product of that very conquest – which I doubt- more likely we sold shoes to them along La Manche- “Hey Guillaume, we’re distant cousins!” but at least the story led to interesting Frenchified Christian names ( Alexandre, Josephine, Denice etc) and lessons/ trips to France over the past 100 years.

It's interesting how family mythology develops. I enjoy watching 'Who Do You Think You Are?' (international versions are available) which delves into a celebrity's family tree, and it always comes up with some interesting twists and often exposes a family myth.

My relatives ( their father is from Ireland) have a ‘fitz’ name which is supposedly derived from ‘fils’. That may be more likely to be true.

I never heard that before, though Gaelic and French are connected I think.

I also doubt that I am related to John Walter of the Times or Bruno Walther or Jean-Paul Gaulthier. ( I’d like that last one) BUT then everyone is really somehow related aren’t we because of mitochondrian Eve?

Oddly I was just reading about just that, thanks to a claim in a book that Chris recommended that the most recent common human ancestor (i.e. an individual whose descendants include every human alive) lived just a few thousand years ago. This seems impossible on the face of it (remote Brazilian tribes?), but is apparently true.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Eric Lund,

Worcester and Gloucester are prominent cities in Massachusetts, pronounced similarly to their namesakes in England (possibly excepting the dropped final R in the New England accent; I don’t know if the West Midlands accent shares that feature).

Interesting. I think the UK West Midland accent (think John Oliver or Lenny Henry) does drop the final 'r'. I suspect the stronger 'r' in some American English may derive from Scots and Irish English. I find it fascinating how a language develops in different areas like this.

and there are places in the UK with names like West Ham.

Which is where I live, though it hasn't been called West Ham since 1965 when it was swallowed up by the London Borough of Newham, though the football club remains. In UK English the trend is for 'h' to be dropped less and less while increasingly glottal stops are substituted for 't', even by supposedly well-spoken types like David Cameron. There are currently some interesting changes happening in the London Southern English accent, mainly from the influence of those of South Asian and Caribbean origin, with the already flat vowels being pronounced further towards the back of the mouth, called Multi-cultural London English (for those interested, here's the inimitable Aleister McGowan explaining and demonstrating it.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Kreb
- the Irish name is supposedly Norman= Fitzsomething. They were also related ( like me) to alcohol production ( different spirit) but their father was a poor relation.
- there is a BBC ( I think) film of "Tess' that is neither ancient nor terrible available for free on the internet ( about 4 hours?)
- for some reason whenever I try to imagine my distant ancestors trying to sell stuff along the Channel hundreds of years ago they either look like Eric Idle or Terry Jones.
- another finding is that all people with blue eyes may be descended from a single ( mutant) woman from what used to be Yugoslavia perhaps 7000 years ago.
Now that's interesting.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Hmm; a previous comment seems to have disappeared into the ether. Anyway:

I suspect the stronger ‘r’ in some American English may derive from Scots and Irish English. I find it fascinating how a language develops in different areas like this.

I recall reading that English accents round about the time settlers were setting sail for the "New World" were broadly rhotic, and that the "dropped r" phenomenon developed quite a bit later, only within the past couple hundred years. (Part of the spread had to do with people wanting to sound "posh," I think.) So (most of) the Americans are actually closer to the original English pronunciation. (Excluding the New England "Brahmin" accent, parts of the south, probably somewhere else I am forgetting.)

Incidentally, here's a neat example of what Shakespeare probably sounded like in the original pronunciation.

@ JP:

New Yawk

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

My relatives ( their father is from Ireland) have a ‘fitz’ name which is supposedly derived from ‘fils’. That may be more likely to be true.

Interesting. A Fitzpatrick I know claims that Fitz means "illegitimate son of".

By Julian Frost (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Julian:

I've heard the same.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

@roadstergal:
"I wonder where bisexuals lie. I don’t think we’re as infrequent as the masses make us out to be." We're not. A friend used to say that if all bisexual people in the world woke up with a green dot on the end of their noses, you would see endless green dots coming at you from every direction.

By Old Rockin' Dabe (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

@everyone else: The British seem to take a certain pride in getting every foreign word wrong. Place names I've heard on BBC News Hour include "The Ukraine", "The Sudan", and "The Argentine", that last pronounced Argen-TYNE. I wonder if they are afraid we'll confuse The Ukraine with some other Ukraine, perhaps somewhere in Africa. Don't forget The Congo. Which Congo is THE Congo, the Republic of or the Democratic Republic of?
They also do it to American presumably Anglo-Saxon names. They think there is a city in Texas called "HOO-ston", and get it wrong even in very large budget movies. But if you spend any time in New York, the city is "YOU-ston" but the street with the same spelling is pronounced "HOW-ston." (Also, true New Yorkers know there is no Avenue of the Americas, it's just Sixth Avenue with a name applied by a foreign occupier - Nelson Rockefeller.) Also I don't know how Rapelyea St. in Brooklyn is pronounced in its home country, but we Brooklynites say it the right way: "rapple-eye". Just incidentally, my dad was a journeyman plumber in Brooklyn before World War 2, and told me that all the old plumbers installed "unirals".
The whole thing makes me wonder how well we do with the native American names of our cities and states. Is "hop-hog" really the right way to say Happauge? How about Hoboken, Idaho, Minnesota? I suspect the hyphens are there in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, to ensure proper pronounciation.

By Old Rockin' Dabe (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

if all bisexual people in the world woke up with a green dot on the end of their noses, you would see endless green dots coming at you from every direction.

That reminds me of an evening I spent in Somerville, MA some years ago.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

though Gaelic and French are connected I think

Both are Indo-European languages, so some overlap is to be expected. But the relationship isn't especially close--probably similar to English and Russian. Still, it would be closer than Latin or Greek to Sanskrit. The concept of an Indo-European language family came about when a British official, tasked with developing a legal code for India, noticed the similarities among Latin, Greek, and Sanskrit, despite the sparse contacts between India and the ancient Mediterranean world.

The British seem to take a certain pride in getting every foreign word wrong.

Yes, they are particularly bad. They even insist on pronouncing Beijing with a French J, when the English J is closer to how the Chinese pronounce it. I have noticed one prominent exception to that rule: Classical music aficionados are expected to pronounce the names of Central and East European composers correctly. Thus a few years ago, when Polish composer Hendryk Gorecki died, the BBC newsreader correctly pronounced his surname as Go-RETS-ki. But in any other context, that C would be subsumed in the K. Which is how the Americans I know whose names end with -cki pronounce it.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

^ There is a web site (name escapes me right now) that I visit when I need to hear how to pronounce a word. It has different nationalities pronouncing the same word. Even disregarding accents, there are noticeable differences. If I know the origin of the word, I try to find that nationality's entry. If I can't find it, I end up even more confused.

Actually, scratch that. I almost always end up more confused.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

In other Health Ranger news..

As the Dow and FTSE dropped precipitously today, Mikey reminds us that he predicted it!

BUT then, he and the other idiot predict market crashes nearly every day since 2008 so they're bound to be right now and then. Stopped clock and all that.

Now I suppose we'll hear their investment advice ( 'get out of the market!**/ 'buy gold'') with an emphasis on 'getting off the grid' and 'going back to the land' in order to 'live naturally'.

But be sure to stock up on supplements to preserve your health in hard times. And get video instruction about 'Survival'

** right , it's the best time to get out- at market lows

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Old Rockin' Dabe,

@everyone else: The British seem to take a certain pride in getting every foreign word wrong. Place names I’ve heard on BBC News Hour include “The Ukraine”, “The Sudan”, and “The Argentine”, that last pronounced Argen-TYNE.

Haven't we been over this before?

The use of "The Ukraine" was common until 1991 when they adopted the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. "Ukraine" means "borderlands" in Russian, so the definite article is no longer used. I haven't heard it called 'The Ukraine' in years.

Sudanese acquaintances of mine call "El-Sudan" making, I think, "The Sudan" correct (at least before the country split up), and I see Wikipedia refers to "the Sudan" in several places in its entry on the area, for example, " the war broke out in the western part of the Sudan known as Darfur".

Argentina is officially the Argentine Republic, so calling it The Argentine seems reasonable (though I have rarely heard it used in recent years), and even Argentinians pronounce it 'Argen-TYNE', so what's wrong with that?

They also do it to American presumably Anglo-Saxon names. They think there is a city in Texas called “HOO-ston”, and get it wrong even in very large budget movies.
But if you spend any time in New York, the city is “YOU-ston” but the street with the same spelling is pronounced “HOW-ston.”

Confusing. I'm surprised anyone gets that wrong with the well-known "Houston we have a problem" quote. New Orleans is another (Brits tend to say "OR-LEEENS"), and so is 'Michigan' (Brits tend to add a 't' before the 'ch').

Still, look at what some of us do to foreign place names like Paris, Moscow, Munchen, London, not to mention calling the Netherlands 'Dutch'....

The whole thing makes me wonder how well we do with the native American names of our cities and states. Is “hop-hog” really the right way to say Happauge? How about Hoboken, Idaho, Minnesota? I suspect the hyphens are there in Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ, to ensure proper pronounciation.

I tend to think there is no proper pronounciation really. Dictionaries are descriptive, not prescriptive, unless you are a BBC news reader I suppose.

Eric,

They even insist on pronouncing Beijing with a French J, when the English J is closer to how the Chinese pronounce it.

I have never noticed this, and again I would have thought I would cringe at the sound of it. I'll listen out for it.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Hilariously, some Latinas have asked me to serve as a mentor for their adventures in accent elimination as they think that I am perfection itself.
Well maybe I am.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Mephistopheles O'Brien, would that evening in Somerville have been the 17th of March?

@krebiozen, thanks for overlooking my typo of my own handle...NOT!

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

...misspell...

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Krebiozen,

And there is the "Pennsylvania Dutch"...

Old Rockin' Dave,

Bad night, huh?

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Not a Troll, it's more of a medical issue. Sometimes I get a little brainlocked. Or maybe the Martians in the CIA are beaming down evil rays at me.
In the words of Ophelia, "Oh, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown!"
Got to go, Reynolds Wrap says my new hat is ready.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

some Latinas have asked me to serve as a mentor for their adventures in accent elimination

"Please, Herr Doktor, teach us to sound like Mads Mikkelsen", asked absolutely no-one.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

ORD,

@krebiozen, thanks for overlooking my typo of my own handle…NOT!

I didn't.. I copied and pasted it without noticing. It's funny how often someone corrects a typo (cursing themselves) that I hadn't even noticed until they pointed it out.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 21 Aug 2015 #permalink

Krebiozen wrote:

Sudanese acquaintances of mine call “El-Sudan” making, I think, “The Sudan” correct (at least before the country split up), and I see Wikipedia refers to “the Sudan” in several places in its entry on the area, for example, ” the war broke out in the western part of the Sudan known as Darfur”.

The name's from the from the Arabic bilād as-sūdān "land of the blacks" (where as-, assimilated from al-, is the definite article) and used to refer to the entire savanna region south of the Sahara, stretching west all the way to the Atlantic. What's now Mali used to be known as the French Sudan, and what's now Sudan and South Sudan was the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan.

A useful convention, especially in historical contexts, is to use the article for the historical and environmental region and drop it for the modern states. I tend to treat (the) Ukraine the same.

The Congo (both of them) and the Gambia get the article because they're named for the rivers. Tho this isn't a consistent rule - no-one ever calls the countries the Paraguay or the Uruguay (tho the official Spanish names do use the article: República del Paraguay and República Oriental del Uruguay respectively).

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

JP,
I meant to reply earlier...

I recall reading that English accents round about the time settlers were setting sail for the “New World” were broadly rhotic, and that the “dropped r” phenomenon developed quite a bit later, only within the past couple hundred years. (Part of the spread had to do with people wanting to sound “posh,” I think.)

That makes sense. The stereotypical "ooh-arr" UK West Country pirate accent, similar to Ben Crystal's version, is very similar to how some local families in East Anglia spoke when I was growing up. I wonder what happened to make those flattened vowels so popular in the UK - could it be something similar to the Castilian 'lisp' that supposedly aped a Spanish king (I know it's a myth)?

Incidentally, the idea that people wanted to sound 'posh' amuses me. Coming from an English middle class family with accent to match in an area where that wasn't greatly appreciated ("your mum talks like the Queen" - bash), I quickly learned to adopt a different accent depending on the context. It has made me a modestly talented mimic.

So (most of) the Americans are actually closer to the original English pronunciation. (Excluding the New England “Brahmin” accent, parts of the south, probably somewhere else I am forgetting.)

I find that amusing too. As a kid I used to wonder at what those crazy Americans had done with 'our' language. Now I know that it isn't 'our' language at all, and in fact 'we' mangled it far more than 'they' did. It's hard to notice, much less escape, one's cultural lenses and filters, but it is a worthy enterprise.

I recently read that the standard US spelling of various words was deliberately chosen (I forget by whom or when) to be different to British spelling to establish the US as a separate cultural entity*,which makes sense, so perhaps a different pronunciation and accent was also favored.
Is the New England "Brahmin" accent like <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ENE9UawDafk"Loyd Grossman?

Incidentally, here’s a neat example of what Shakespeare probably sounded like in the original pronunciation.

A friend of mine does a great "what light through yonder window breaks" in a broad Midlands accent (Stratford-Upon-Avon is spitting distance from Birmingham), but Crystal's is doubtless more authentic. I'm also amused (easily, I know), by how Shakespeare, a master of popular culture, the soap-opera king of his day, was appropriated by the highbrow and somehow became 'posh'.

* Does it seem odd that I, a Brit, get a warm, almost patriotic feeling when I think of the US declaring independence from Britain?

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Grrr. Loyd Grossman - I wasn't sure if non-UK people would know who he is.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Old Rockin' Dave,

I'm sorry to hear that; I am in a similar position.

I like your quote and may adopt it. I've been using references to "Flowers for Algernon" for some time but many don't know what I mean.

Regardless, I was never at the bottom or anywhere near the top in either of these analogies.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink
though Gaelic and French are connected I think

Both are Indo-European languages, so some overlap is to be expected. But the relationship isn’t especially close–probably similar to English and Russian.

Old Irish (the Goidelic ancestor, which retained a good amount of Proto–Indo-European) is far removed from French. I'm wondering whether Krebiozen was thinking of Breton, which is in the Brittanic half of the Insular Celtic languages.

(Thanks, Eric Hamp!)

Narad,

I’m wondering whether Krebiozen was thinking of Breton, which is in the Brittanic half of the Insular Celtic languages.

No, I think I remembered a much later connection; the Norman invasion of Ireland which led to some French influence, such as the use of 'fitz' which is indeed derived from 'fils' according to Wiki.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Krebiozen: "I find that amusing too. As a kid I used to wonder at what those crazy Americans had done with ‘our’ language. Now I know that it isn’t ‘our’ language at all, and in fact ‘we’ mangled it far more than ‘they’ did."

There is a river near New London, CT that is actually pronounced "Thames", with the definitely "th" and long "a", and not "Tems." Of course, there is also a Cairo, IL that is pronounced "care-o."

Sometimes when I counsel EFL/ESL students who think that English is difficult I recount - in my inimitable fashion- the language's history which explains exactly why it is like that. It grew via invasions, Church influence and conquests over millennia.
I have got excellent responses to this.

I give examples, like- there are many ways to say-
road, street, avenue, boulevard ( AS, G, F origins) or
house, hut, mansion, palace etc.
It shows differing sources as well as different emphases
Homely vs posh.

I also try to illustrate why particular groups of speakers ( such as Indians, Spanish speakers, Russians) have particular problems with pronunciation and usage.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Incidentally, the idea that people wanted to sound ‘posh’ amuses me. Coming from an English middle class family with accent to match in an area where that wasn’t greatly appreciated (“your mum talks like the Queen” – bash), I quickly learned to adopt a different accent depending on the context. It has made me a modestly talented mimic.

Yeah, I've got a touch of that myself, as does, for instance, my advisor. Sort of the other way around, though; an attempt not to broadcast one's humbler origins quite so loudly, I guess. (Although it never "takes" entirely for anyone, I think - I have heard the man pronounce the word "sauce," for example. You can take the boy out of Jersey, but you can't (completely) take Jersey out of the boy.) It does lend a certain facility with the pronunciation of foreign languages, such that we have both been taken for natives in Poland, Russia, etc.

I recently read that the standard US spelling of various words was deliberately chosen (I forget by whom or when) to be different to British spelling to establish the US as a separate cultural entity*,which makes sense, so perhaps a different pronunciation and accent was also favored.

It was Webster who set down the standard American orthography, I think. Luckily, as I've mentioned elsewhere, he declined, for the most part, to use the faddish and superfluous "our" and "re" false-French endings on a number of words.

I think the original development of "American" pronunciation was fairly random and organic, but I did read somewhere that the rhotic variety of English was eventually perceived as "more American" and less "foreign" by the 20th century or so.

Interestingly, the stereotypical New York accent is actually a pretty recent development. Walt Whitman, who was from Brooklyn, sounded like this.

Is the New England “Brahmin” accent like Loyd Grossman?

A little bit. Here's a small example. Come to think of it, the coastal New England accent is non-rhotic in general, although with different inflections among different areas and social classes.

I’m also amused (easily, I know), by how Shakespeare, a master of popular culture, the soap-opera king of his day, was appropriated by the highbrow and somehow became ‘posh’.

Yeah, it's pretty funny. Every nation had to find its National Poet during the Romantic era, I suppose.

Does it seem odd that I, a Brit, get a warm, almost patriotic feeling when I think of the US declaring independence from Britain?

Makes perfect sense to me. :)

I wonder if people have a soft spot for revolutions IN GENERAL ..
especially the French and the American, not the Russian and the Chinese so much.
It's idealistic, overcoming oppression, breaking the chains of control by the royals, set in the period of the Enlightenment.
It's the stuff of novels and large scale musical stage craft..
Something grand with which to identify

Now take the Thinking Moms' Revolution

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Now take the Thinking Moms’ Revolution

, please.

By Bill Price (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

"Now take the Thinking Moms’ Revolution"

It's none of those but "Mom's".

That was easy.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

@JP: "Interestingly, the stereotypical New York accent is actually a pretty recent development. Walt Whitman, who was from Brooklyn, sounded like this."
Walt Whitman was born, raised, and spent the early part of his adulthood in Melville on Long Island, and spoke with the old Long Island accent. When I was a kid it could still be heard from some of the people who were there before the suburban boom of the 50s, and sounded like a softer New England accent, but with a hard stress on the "k" sound except at the ends of words (example: aXe-ent, if that orthography makes any sense to you.). In the early days of white settlement, eastern LI was part of New England. Fun fact: if I got off my ass and away from the laptop, I could easily walk to the old international border between New Amsterdam and New England.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

JP,

Yeah, I’ve got a touch of that myself, as does, for instance, my advisor. Sort of the other way around, though; an attempt not to broadcast one’s humbler origins quite so loudly, I guess.

Kids (humans) can be so nasty. Why is being different such a big deal?

(Although it never “takes” entirely for anyone, I think – I have heard the man pronounce the word “sauce,” for example. You can take the boy out of Jersey, but you can’t (completely) take Jersey out of the boy.)

I believe there is a window of plasticity within which accents are more or less fixed (up to age 11 maybe?), and it takes quite an effort to change it after that. It comes out under stress, for sure.

It does lend a certain facility with the pronunciation of foreign languages, such that we have both been taken for natives in Poland, Russia, etc.

I have a problem in France in that my accent is greatly superior to my vocabulary. I end up saying "comment?" and "lentement" a lot.

It was Webster who set down the standard American orthography, I think. Luckily, as I’ve mentioned elsewhere, he declined, for the most part, to use the faddish and superfluous “our” and “re” false-French endings on a number of words.

"Faddish and superfluous"? "Charming" is the word you are looking for methinks ;-)

I think the original development of “American” pronunciation was fairly random and organic, but I did read somewhere that the rhotic variety of English was eventually perceived as “more American” and less “foreign” by the 20th century or so.

I wonder why. Maybe it's just random. I know people exaggerate aspects of accents to emphasize membership of subcultures, and perhaps pronunciation/accents (is there a technical difference?) develop and spread like that.

Interestingly, the stereotypical New York accent is actually a pretty recent development. Walt Whitman, who was from Brooklyn, sounded like this.

Interesting. There is surely a Jewish influence on the modern New York accent. I noticed Whitman has a rhotic 'r' also the modern US pronunciation of 'enduring' (Brits tend to pronounce it 'end-your-ing', not 'end-door-ing' - maybe that's where the 'y' from 'Houston' went) - I wonder if that's something Brits lost or never had. Why the British spelling of 'centre' I wonder?

"Is the New England “Brahmin” accent like Loyd Grossman?"
A little bit. Here’s a small example. Come to think of it, the coastal New England accent is non-rhotic in general, although with different inflections among different areas and social classes.

I like that accent. Those gentlemen don't mangle their vowels anywhere near as badly as Grossman :-) I think my favorite US accent has to be Kentucky, as exemplified in the TV show 'Justified', though it's the flowery almost Shakespearean language that I really like. That reminds me, my late mother-in-law, an 'intellectual' Michigander, told me that she liked my English accent, and when I replied that I liked hers too, she explained that she didn't have one :-)

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

"I believe there is a window of plasticity within which accents are more or less fixed..."

Perhaps the developmental specialists can way in on this but I don't believe it based upon my family's experiences.

My brother easily adopted a North Carolina accent when he moved there in his mid-20's. When he have visited back in NY he would sound like the rest of us until he was tired and then he slipped back into the NC accent not the accent of his childhood.

On the other hand, my sister has created a sort of amalgam of a Maryland and a NY accent . Now that she is in Kentucky, I'm curious what inflections she'll pick up there to add to the mix.

I know if I were ever to speak with you, I would start to pick up your accent. Sometimes I have been called out on it as if I am trying to mock someone's accent but it is an entirely unconscious process until I find myself wondering why I am talking funny.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

weigh not *way*

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Not a Troll,
I wonder if the accents you describe are close enough to be within some limits of plasticity that remain after my hypothetical window closes. I have know a number of people whose original accent(s) surface(s) when they are tired or stressed or sometimes when talking about their childhood. There are some interesting anecdotes on the subject here.

Interestingly some people seem to have dual accents, Gillian Anderson, for example, does interviews in either an English or an American accent, depending on the location, presumably.

I know if I were ever to speak with you, I would start to pick up your accent. Sometimes I have been called out on it as if I am trying to mock someone’s accent but it is an entirely unconscious process until I find myself wondering why I am talking funny.

I do that too, entirely unconsciously; it can get a bit weird!

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Old Rockin' Dave:

You're right: Whitman was born in Long Island. I was wondering why I remembered him being from Brooklyn, so I looked it up; it turns out he was born in Long Island, but his family moved to Brooklyn when he was 4 years old. They did move back to Long Island at some point, I'm guessing when he was a teenager, but I'm not certain. In any case, he worked for both a Long Island and a Brooklyn newspaper as a young man.

I've noticed, anecdotally, that there does seem to be a cutoff age - for most people, at least - for being able to learn a second language without an accent. My immigrant friends who moved to the States as younger kids are perfectly bilingual (or trilingual) with no accent, but those who immigrated after about age 11 have at least a bit of a foreign accent.

It seems to be a little bit different with one's accent in one's native language. A friend of mine from Bristol lost quite a bit of his accent after living in the States for a couple decades - I heard a recording of him when he was younger, and the difference is noticeable. (It also comes out when he's tired or a little drunk.) I've picked up at least a little bit of a Michigan accent - enough for some relatives to have commented on it when I was back home visiting - but people out here - there's nobody in my department from out West - still think I have an accent. (But they don't, of course.) It is in fact strong enough for me to be misunderstood on occasion; I've heard that the way I pronounce the "a" in words like "bag" and "shaggy" is particularly distinctive.

I know if I were ever to speak with you, I would start to pick up your accent. Sometimes I have been called out on it as if I am trying to mock someone’s accent but it is an entirely unconscious process until I find myself wondering why I am talking funny.

I do that too, entirely unconsciously; it can get a bit weird!

Yeah, me too. I'm sort of a sponge, linguistically speaking, like a little kid. I suspect this is why I have a pretty easy time learning foreign languages.

About the only Southern drawl I can stand to listen to for any length of time is mid-Delta (think Shelby Foote). I was stationed in North Carolina for a time and the coastal Carolina accent is one of the ugliest in the country.

I have been accused by European acquaintances of talking through my nose along with my fellow Michiganders.

I believe there is a window of plasticity within which accents are more or less fixed (up to age 11 maybe?), and it takes quite an effort to change it after that. It comes out under stress, for sure.

I don't know about the fixed part but my (light and untraceable) accent does come out more when I'm angry/stressed*

*Oddly the stress only seems to come from being surrounded by some deep South accents from time to time.

By Science Mom (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

I’ve noticed, anecdotally, that there does seem to be a cutoff age – for most people, at least – for being able to learn a second language without an accent.

There is research to back that up, although I don't have links handy (it isn't my field). A few people have the talent to learn languages after the age of 8 or so, but most don't. The biggest issue is the phonemes: there are hundreds of possibilities over all human languages, but most languages only use 20-30 of them (English uses more than most, a complicating factor for any foreigner learning the language). Young children are good enough mimics to pick the right phonemes, but most older children and adults have lost that skill.

It seems to be a little bit different with one’s accent in one’s native language.

There is some degree of plasticity. In grad school I knew a bloke from Newcastle-upon-Tyne (by way of Oxbridge) who had been in the US for many years. You could still hear hints of his UK background--an American might think his accent British. But nobody who had lived in the UK would think so, as his accent at the time I knew him was definitely heavily Americanized from his native Geordie (which I got to hear at his wedding).

OTOH, a different acquaintance of mine, from my undergraduate years, had lived most of his life in Michigan, except for a year or two in Philadelphia right around the time he learned to talk. And he kept that Philadelphia accent--most people who guessed his origin from his accent guessed Philadelphia. A more famous example would be Richard Feynman, who retained his Brooklyn accent more than 30 years after moving to California.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

My great-grandmother was born in Yorkshire to a Devon father and a Welsh mother. She only spent a few years living in Yorkshire as the family moved to Cheshire for 3 years and back to Yorkshire before embarking for Australia when she was 8. She lived the rest of her life in Australia, but always sounded like she was from Yorkshire (although none of her siblings did).

Just got in...from an odd evening out Wish I had another drink.
a few things:
- 'centre' est francais - that's why!
- yes there is research about this as Eric says but I'm not about to look it up at this hour. Trust me.

HOWEVER some people have astonishing powers as mimics - they can copy accents or change their own as needed As you may know actors work with coaches along these lines and there is a lively internet business in 'accent elimination'
( NOT me I can assure you) as well. You need to have an 'ear' for the subtle differences.

I was fortunate enough to have father who was a trained speaker ( long story) who even was an announced on radio for a while and to have gone to a university that required speech as well as rhetoric.

-I'm thrilled that at least two people responded to my TMR joke set-up. I enjoy being straight man for bimler too.

In other news, Jake is not exactly pleased with the Spudd's latest which he thinks is about him. ( see Orac's twitter)

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Oh and -btw- I know a few people from Ireland who NEVER lost their accents. They're motivated to stay Irish I think.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Crud. The script is here. The recording of me reading it is here.

"There is surely a Jewish influence on the modern New York accent."
What I mostly hear the Jewish influence is in the cadence of speech.
The classic Brooklynese is more of the Irish influence. People come from Greenpernt, they use the terlet, they live on Toid Avenue. The classic example is from a ballgame where the pitcher Waite Hoyt got hit by a line drive and a Brooklyn fan yelled out "Hert got hoit."

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

In my late teens and early adulthood, I used have people guessing I'm from Stockholm. Which is true to the extent I'm born there, but I was 18 months old when we moved away, and neither of my parents is from there*, so it's hard to imagine I picked up much accent there. The reason, near as I can guess, is that we next moved to rural Gotland, where local dialect was basically a different language from standard Swedish - I never learnt to understand it because natives would switch to their best approximation of standard Swedish to speak with us Mainlanders** - and I picked up my accent from the TV.

Nowadays, 20+ years in Linköping has taken its toll and people have been known to presume I've lived here all my life.

* My dad still speaks with a distinct Småland accent despite not having lived there since the '70s.

** A heritable condition. I forget how many generations you were supposed to've lived on the island to stop counting as one - three?

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 22 Aug 2015 #permalink

Haven’t we been over this before?

The use of “The Ukraine” was common until 1991 when they adopted the Declaration of Independence of Ukraine. “Ukraine” means “borderlands” in Russian, so the definite article is no longer used. I haven’t heard it called ‘The Ukraine’ in years. [more educational information snipped]

Well, if we went over this before, I was definitely absent from class that day. Thank you, Krebiozen, that was all stuff I didn't know!

New Orleans is another (Brits tend to say “OR-LEEENS”),

Uhhhhh... okay, I've listened to my fair share of music about New Orleans, by musicians whose New Orleans cred is impeccable, and if Dr. John and the Neville Brothers are okay with singing it as "OR-LEENS" in "Back to New Orleans", to say nothing of the legendary Professor Longhair in "Mardi Gras in New Orleans" - I'd take that as evidence that "OR-LEENS" is at the very least an acceptable variant pronunciation. In court.

They even insist on pronouncing Beijing with a French J, when the English J is closer to how the Chinese pronounce it.

I have never noticed this, and again I would have thought I would cringe at the sound of it. I’ll listen out for it.

At the time of the Beijing Olympics, most Americans including newspeople (I say "most" based on my completely unscientific survey of my own personal experience) were pronouncing it "Bay-zhing". There were a number of news stories noting that "Bay-jing" was actually closer to correct pronounciation, and attributed the widespread "Bay-zhing" to overcorrection: people looked at the name and said "Well, I'm used to all of these names from other countries where it LOOKS like 'Juh' but it's pronounced 'Zhuh', so I guess this is 'Bay-zhing.'"

By Antaeus Feldspar (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

Eric Lund @129:
I'm one of those people. I was 8 long long time ago and I speak perfect Florentine I learned in, well, Florence when I was 25 or so and I tend to absorb languages, pronunciation included. I speak Central Finnish, You're-from-Tornedalen Swedish (too much partying with Finns who thought it immensely funny to speak Swedish with me)... and I have no clue how this happens. I seem to be absorbing the languages just somehow.

By kultakutri (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

people looked at the name and said “Well, I’m used to all of these names from other countries where it LOOKS like ‘Juh’ but it’s pronounced ‘Zhuh’

There aren't many languages that do that, but they happen to include French and Portuguese. So some of it is colonial influence. Italian handles J the same way of English. In Spanish it is pronounced either like the hard German CH (in the Castilian and Mexican dialects) or English H (Latin America outside Mexico). Germanic languages other than English, and Slavic languages written with Roman characters, have retained the original Latin pronunciation, which sounds like an English initial Y. (In Latin I and J were not considered distinct letters.) So the rationale of using the French J in Beijing is probably more along the lines of "everything sounds more sophisticated in French" combined with most Anglophones not knowing any better.

The Slavic languages have the French J sound, but in Polish it is rendered &Zdot;, and I believe Czech uses &Zcaron;. The Cyrillic alphabet has a character &ZHcy; for that sound, usually transliterated ZH--to get the English J sound, they use the combination &Dcy;&ZHcy; (DZH).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

A heritable condition. I forget how many generations you were supposed to’ve lived on the island to stop counting as one – three?

You also see this phenomenon in rural parts of northern New England (i.e., Vermont outside of Burlington, New Hampshire north and west of Concord, and interior and downeast Maine). The standard explanation is, "Just because the cat has kittens in the oven doesn't mean you call them biscuits."

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

The Slavic languages have the French J sound, but in Polish it is rendered &Zdot;, and I believe Czech uses &Zcaron;. The Cyrillic alphabet has a character &ZHcy; for that sound, usually transliterated ZH–to get the English J sound, they use the combination &Dcy;&ZHcy; (DZH).

Or, just to see if I can get the characters to show up here: the "French j" sound is spelled with a ż when it's "harder," or a ź when it's "softer," although the hard variant can also be spelled "rz" and the soft variant is also produced by the combination "zi." (So the first syllable of Burzynski's name is actually pronounced like the first syllable of "bourgeois.")

The Czech version is this: ž.

The corresponding Russian letter is ж, and the transliteration of the English (or, more commonly, Georgian) sound signified with a "j" is indeed spelled дж, or dzh in Roman characters. Russians find it obnoxious how many English names start with that combination, which is unpleasant for them to attempt to pronounce, incidentally. Which is one reason why I often go by "Zhenya" (Женя) in Russia.

^Oh: the first paragraph above is meant to show the spelling in Polish. And it's that complicated because Polish.

JP,
Is there some reason that Polish and French have the same rhythm and cadence? When out in cosmopolitan east London, I often think people are speaking French but when I get close enough to distinguish individual words I realize it is Polish or, less commonly, vice versa.

By Krebiozen (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Krebiozen:

Pure coincidence, as far as I know. One coincidence is that Polish, like French, has nasal vowels; nasal vowels were in face a feature of the Proto-Slavic language, but Polish is the only language of the family to have preserved them. Additionally, Polish has a lot of "sh" and "zh" sounds, even more than other Slavic languages; Czechs say that Poles sound like they are whispering all the time. I actually don't know French, but where does the accent in the word typically fall? Polish has a very regular (with a few exceptions) penultimate stress.

^Actually, nasal vowels existed in what's called "Common Slavic" as well, whence they passed into Old Church Slavonic. (Although they were already passing out of use in many dialects by the time OCS was in broad usage; you can actually tell the date and location of various OCS texts by characteristic vowel mistakes pretty easily.)

Is there some reason that Polish and French have the same rhythm and cadence?

The default stress on the penultimate syllable, as JP mentioned for Polish, is shared with most if not all of the Romance languages. Many words in those languages have other stressed syllables (last or, less often, third from last), but the rules are regular, and in the case of Spanish and Portuguese, any exceptions are marked with accents.

The Slavic languages also have noun and adjective declensions akin to Latin. These endings even apply to surnames: if someone is named Dr. Ivanova, she will almost certainly be female (a male would be Dr. Ivanov). Most of that has disappeared from the Romance languages, but the latter still require adjectives to agree in gender and number with the nouns they modify. However, most Slavic languages don't have definite articles--thus "Ukraine" and "the Ukraine" are indistinguishable in Ukranian.

I don't have the skill to distinguish among the various Slavic languages when spoken--they all sound Russian to me. Part of that is because I am not routinely exposed to native speakers of those languages, but part is also because the Slavic languages diverged from their common ancestor more recently than even the Romance languages. Also, Spanish and to a lesser extent Portuguese came under heavy influence from Arabic during the period that Iberia was part of the Muslim world. Perhaps some of the Slavic languages (especially Bulgarian and Serbo-Croatian) did as well, but I don't know enough to spot those influences, while the Arabic influences on Spanish are bloody obvious; e.g., many Spanish words beginning with "al" were borrowed by somebody who didn't know that "al" is the definite article in Arabic (whence algodón--cotton--as well as the palace known as the Alhambra, always referred to in English or Spanish with the corresponding superfluous definite article).

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

However, most Slavic languages don’t have definite articles–thus “Ukraine” and “the Ukraine” are indistinguishable in Ukranian.

Ah, but there is a similar linguistic distinction in Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish, although it doesn't have the same political significance in Polish. (Long story which I won't get into right at the moment.)

It has to do with the way you signify presence "in" a country. In English we pretty much always use "in." In Russian, one uses "in" for most countries, but "on" for (most) island nations, as well as, in a generic sense, peninsulas. (You say "on" Alaska or Kamchatka, for instance.) But it's also used for territories. The distinction, in Russian, is на Украние (na Ukraine, on the Ukraine) vs в Украине (v Ukraine, in Ukraine. Ukrainians, since independence, can get quite annoyed when Russians continue to say "na Ukraine." This is in fact not always a nationalistic gesture on the part of Russians, since when most of them were growing up, "na Ukraine" was simply considered grammatically correct. Old habits die hard, and all that. Of course, if they are insistent about it, it often is simply chauvinist. (Interestingly, Ukrainians of the older generation also often say "na Ukraine" when speaking in Russian. The same distinction exists in Ukrainian, in fact, but it's в Україні (v Ukraini) vs. на Україні (na Ukraini.)) In Ukrainian itself, though, people (again, especially of the older generation) often switch back and forth with not nearly as much political significance, which makes sense in a way.

^Okay, it's not such a terribly long story with Poland; Poland uses the "na" (on) form for Ukraine, the western part of which was at one point a Polish territory, but Polish uses the "na" form randomly for a lot of other countries which were never Polish territories, like "Czechia," Hungary, and many other countries. Because Polish. So it doesn't have the same connotations, linguistically/politically speaking. Plus Ukraine in the modern area has much warmer relations with Poland than with Russia, for pretty obvious reasons.

^ Modern era, that is. In any case, one of the reasons why Ukraine is quite insistent on the use of "Ukraine" vs. "the Ukraine" in English is because the definite article in English has the same connotation of speaking of a territory - the Yukon, etc.

" moat Slavic languages don't have definite articles"

A tale which sounds like it might be true:
a former Mrs Trump, Ivanna, was not a native English speaker as she was from Eastern Europe ( not sure which country or former country) and thus, she had problems with English especially the use of articles; supposedly she originated the designation _ The Donald_ which lives on.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

@Denice:

Possible, but it sounds apocryphal; I've never known native speakers of Slavic languages to attempt to use articles at all with personal names when speaking English. It does, however, occur in an affectionate context in German: one might ask where "der Hartmut" is, for instance.

^If only because one obviously doesn't use articles with names in English; and, in fact, any reason to leave out articles altogether is readily seized upon by Slavs speaking English, even when one ought to be using them. It might have been a Slavic-language-by-way-of-German thing, though, who knows.

Amusingly, when I was first learning German - my first foreign language, oddly enough, was Russian, except for some illiterate Spanish - I kept just leaving articles out, since my brain at the time seemed to just associate "new language" with "no articles." German speakers and teachers found this pretty hilarious.

Czechs say that Poles sound like they are whispering all the time.

They're probably plotting something. Time to invade them again, just in case.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

Czechs say that Poles sound like they are whispering all the time.

They’re probably plotting something. Time to invade them again, just in case.

Ha!

Conversely, the Poles say that the Czechs sound like little kids. I also have several amusing anecdotes up my sleeve about attempts between Poles and Czechs to communicate in their respective languages with the assumption of some mutual intelligibility...

I have come across the Czech expression "Pít jako Dán", "to drink like a Dane". They are fine ones to talk.

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 23 Aug 2015 #permalink

I've heard that the French have a similar saying, "(to be) drunk like a Pole." It's actually sort of funny and unfair that the Poles have such a reputation for drunkenness among Western Europeans, when they in fact drink considerably less than the Czechs, and are in fact relatively speaking one of the more sober of the Slavic nations.

JP@149: But it's always "the United States", which is hardly a territory.

On reflection, the rule seems to be that you use the definite article with geographic descriptors of the form [adjective] [noun]. Thus the Yukon Territory or the Virgin Islands--but Nunavut and Guam, which have comparable political status, do not take definite articles. In this sense, if "Ukraine" really means "border lands", the definite article would fit the pattern. But that's probably overthinking it, since most English speakers don't know what Ukraine means.

HDB@155: The reputation of the Danes was known to the English of Shakespeare's day. There is a line in Hamlet, which is set in Denmark: "They clep us drunkards." Clep is an archaic word meaning "call" or "name".

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

In other news...

it's official...
Mikey Adams is a prophet!
He's been telling us that the markets will crash and they are
Like Gary Null and Gerald Celente because their dire warnings have come true. FINALLY**

Never mind that they've been saying so since 2008 and that the market has cycled a few times.
OH I wonder why it does that? That's very odd

AND Mike's article today centres upon a word derived from the French for 'slow"

** Now we'll hear these idiots hard sell their idees fixes about sustainability, going back to the land, starting communes, barter, selling herbs at farmer's markets etc.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

I have found myself to have a little more ability to identify spoken languages than average. I had never thought about until recently.
It is not only pronunciation that gives the clues, but other things too. Those things include cadence, stress on particular words or sounds, the apparent emotional or other context, facial expression, and body language.
Identifying written language is more hit and miss, but I have good contextual visual memory, which is helps in picking out other alphabets.
I wonder, does any of this apply to anyone else here?

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

What do Mike Adams, Todd Starnes, and William Proxmire have in common? The letter A.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Old Rockin' Dave:

Possibly.
I have an especially interesting time when I'm riding public transportation and overhear people speaking different languages which I can understand to varying degrees.

I am reminded of those old dichotic listening studies concerning whether the second language is one you know or not.

I have studied several European languages to variable extents and bits and pieces of Arabic and Japanese. Plus I hear Indian languages frequently although I know little beyond reading menus written in the Latin alphabet.

Cadence is very important.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

What do Mike Adams, Todd Starnes, and William Proxmire have in common? The letter A.

It’s not grown – it’s mined!

[Exit all commenters, pursued by a bear].

Yes, two days ago on Twitter I called it that there would be humor on Dr. G's blogs. And there is - across multiple threads/blogs! On a Monday even.

I also predicted that his trolling tweeters would not show up. Again true.

I think this predictive talent of mine deserves a paying gig on Mike Adams blog.

Note: Quotes above are from all over. I leave it to you to discover them.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

[Exit all commenters, pursued by a bear].

Not "Exeunt"? Are there no pedants?

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

herr doktor bimler,

Well, since I had to look up two of the words in your questions, it's a good bet that I'm not the one able to answer them.

By Not a Troll (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

In this sense, if “Ukraine” really means “border lands”,

Sort of; it's actually from a phrase that means "at the border/edge," which turned into a single word (Ukraina) in Russian, Ukrainian, and Polish, is capitalized, and generally treated in a grammatical sense as a (country) name.

TBH, most Americans don't know what Ukraine is; half of the people I've talked to think it's part of Russia, for crying out loud. Which part of it used to be; another thing to keep in mind is that Ukraine has only ever been an independent nation since 1991. Before that, it was split between Russia and Poland, and then was the Ukrainian SSR during the Soviet period. So it used to be a territory, and it's not anymore. It's a nation, which has explicitly asked to be called Ukraine instead of "the Ukraine," which does certainly give the impression of being a territory or a region within, oh, say, Russia. I can't see any reason not to call it Ukraine, given that there is no "environmental region" that exists as separate from the nation and its borders. Which have become somewhat unstable as of late.

As regards "the United States," points of grammar, etc., W--pedia has a fairly decent rundown:

Countries and territories whose names derive from common nouns such as "kingdom", "republic" or even "coast" take the article: the United States, the United Kingdom, the Soviet Union, the Czech Republic, the Ivory Coast.[6]

Countries and territories whose names derive from "island" or "land" however only take the definite article if they represent a plural noun: The Netherlands do, the Falkland Islands, the Faroe Islands and the Cayman Islands do, even the Philippines or the Comoros do, though the plural noun "Islands" is omitted there. The (singular) Greenland on the other hand doesn't take the definite article, neither does Christmas Island or Norfolk Island.

Certain countries and regions whose names derive from mountain ranges, rivers, deserts, etc. are sometimes used with an article even though in the singular (the Lebanon, the Sudan, the Yukon),[7] but this usage is declining, although The Gambia remains the recommended name of that country. Since the independence of Ukraine (formerly sometimes called the Ukraine), most style guides have advised dropping the article[8] (in some other languages there is a similar issue involving prepositions). Use of the Argentine for Argentina is now old-fashioned.

Some names include an article for historical reasons, such as The Bronx, or to reproduce the native name (The Hague).

Names beginning with a common noun followed by of take the article, as in the Isle of Wight or the Isle of Portland (compare Christmas Island). The same applies to names of institutions: Cambridge University, but the University of Cambridge.

if “Ukraine” really means “border lands”,

For that matter, so does "Denmark" (comparable to the Scottish Marches).

By herr doktor bimler (not verified) on 24 Aug 2015 #permalink

Jp wrote:

I can’t see any reason not to call it Ukraine, given that there is no “environmental region” that exists as separate from the nation and its borders.

If I'm speaking of "the Ukraine", I'm making an (possibly unsuccessful) effort to be clear I'm not speaking of the nation.

By Andreas Johansson (not verified) on 25 Aug 2015 #permalink

For that matter, so does “Denmark” (comparable to the Scottish Marches).

But with fewer bagpipes.

By Mephistopheles… (not verified) on 25 Aug 2015 #permalink

Denice Walter, reading your reply reminds me of how much exposure I have had to other languages, cultures, and accents, probably accounting for most of my faculty.
My immediate circle of family and family friends brought accents that included Brooklynese, Cockney, Swedish, Polish, Cypriot Greek, Sicilian, and Neapolitan.
From infancy I was exposed to Yiddish, and later heard and studied Hebrew (both Ashkenazi and Sephardi), Spanish, and French. I was able to leverage these to gain more knowledge not only of them, but of the other Romance languages. Romanian should be a snap for any French reader or speaker.
I shouldn't leave out later exposure to spoken Arabic, Tagalog, and Visayan, and to Irish and South Asian accents.
In the last half of my career as a PA, I worked in a hospital situated between two counties that at the time were two of the largest destinations for immigrants from everywhere and I once counted up over sixty countries that I had seen patients from. The available translators were too often family members with really poor English themselves. I picked up a few odds and ends of other languages that way.
Typical of me to fail to remember all that and only think of it later when it's been brought up.

By Old Rockin' Dave (not verified) on 25 Aug 2015 #permalink

Never mind that they’ve been saying so since 2008 and that the market has cycled a few times.

There is an old joke to the effect that economists have predicted nine of the last two recessions.

By Eric Lund (not verified) on 25 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Eric Lund:

Actually Celente was a guest today on Null's Woo-topia but I had to leave so I only heard a little.

It all boils down to:
stocks,,bonds and banks are worthless
farm land and gold are GOLDEN opportunities!

However whenever gold prices dip, Celente says the governments have fixed prices and it REALLY should be valued at 3000 USD but that would show how badly off we REALLY are! It's a plot - just like vaccines!

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Aug 2015 #permalink

@ Old Rockin' Dave:

I live in cosmopolitan-ville- and I don't mean the cocktail altho' that's next door-
as I mentioned previously sometimes on a train I overhear a few languages which I understand somewhat or a bit- and then there's English-
that's how psychologists studied attention:
you have to listen and 'shadow' ( repeat what you hear as you hear it) one channel whilst another channel plays. You have more problems as the second channel more closely approximates your own language or a language you understand. I feel like that all the time.

They also studied the cocktail party phenomenon.

By Denice Walter (not verified) on 25 Aug 2015 #permalink