Speaking "surfer dude"

Posted by Word Camel on January 06, 2005

So "Do You Speak American" was broadcast last night. It lasted several hours and is one of those epic programs that will probably live on in classrooms for years to come. I have not watched all of it but I have recoreded it with TIVO. However, there were several points of what I watched that surprised me.

The first and most shocking, is just how much "surfer dude" is spoken: "off the wall", "rad", "totally", "to the max", "buff" and many other words and phrases I can not think of before caffeine.

The other interesting thing is that English in the United States is becoming more, not less regionalised. Listening to the different pronounciations out of context, it is truly amazing anyone understands anyone else. According to one of the linguists interviewed this is semi-conscious thing. People are embracing the differences in their speech and thus it is becoming even more distinct from other spoken English. At the same time slang from surfer, California valley girls, Hip-hop and Spanglish seems to wash over the nation where it is adopted and spoken with a regional accent.

The other thing that goes on everywhere is the use of "like". The nice Canadian presenter, whose name eludes me, said it takes the place of "quote, unquote". "So I'm like, 'no way! and he's like 'way'...".

Thanks to ESC for alerting us to it. I wish there was an equivalent for the UK. It was fascinating.