strange_complex: (Penny Crayon)
I was so sure there was a regional divide over the pronunciation of 'scone'. And in a way, there is (according to the results of my poll, that is). But the divide is not about how you pronounce 'scone'. I now see that the nation is actually divided between one half who largely agree on how to pronounce 'scone', and one half where there is no marked preference.

People in the south have clear views on the matter. They voted to say that the majority of them (80% at the time of writing) pronounced the word as 'skon'. Yet a moderate, but notable, majority (60%) equally expressed the view that the posh way to pronounce the word is 'skoan'.

This shows that most of my southerner friends think they are gutter trash.

People in the north, meanwhile, disagree entirely over both their own pronunciation of the word, and their beliefs as to which is 'poshest'. The votes are split, near-as-dammit, right down the middle on both issues. Maybe a clearer picture would have emerged if I hadn't lumped Scotland and Northern Ireland in together with north England?

Interestingly, though, I can now see that the three people ([livejournal.com profile] venta, [livejournal.com profile] jurious and [livejournal.com profile] kharin) who explicitly said in my first post on this matter that they thought the division between 'skoan'-sayers and 'skon'-sayers was not a matter of geography, but of random individual preference, all, in fact, describe themselves as having grown up in the North1: within which area I now know that this is true.

Finally, the thing I really liked about this poll was that exactly equal numbers of northerners and southerners voted on it (10 each: again, as correct at the time of writing). To be brutally fair, this is probably mainly because I have just moved to Belfast and made a lot of friends here. But nonetheless, it does make me feel as though my circle of friends is extremely well-balanced.

Makes me feel like a true Midlander, in fact.

UPDATE: Since I posted this poll on [livejournal.com profile] tickybox and thus acquired more data, the above findings have changed. Dang. The votes in the North are no longer split. They now follow the same pattern as the south: a preference for saying 'skon', but a tendency to believe that 'skoan' is posher. In fact, the preference for 'skon' over 'skoan' is now more marked in the North than it ever was in the South. So, perhaps there is no regional divide at all, but countrywide agreement. And perhaps we all think we are gutter trash.

Who knows?

----------
1. Actually, you won't see [livejournal.com profile] venta's name on that page, because she didn't vote on that poll, but I know she did grow up in Yorkshire.
strange_complex: (Default)
Well, last Friday's poll about scones did nothing to help me understand where each of the two main pronunciations is most common, or even whether the choice between 'skoan' and 'skon' is a matter of geography, or class, or what. Some people apparently believe that 'skon' is northern and 'skoan' southern, and some the complete opposite. The only mild points of agreement were a belief that people in Scotland are more likely to say 'skon' than anyone anywhere else and apparently also a marked preference overall for pronouncing the word as 'skon'.

On this latter issue, I believe that you are all Wrong. But while I'm not really bothered about 'right' and 'wrong' pronunciation in this case, I've still got a bee in my bonnet about what exactly it is that distinguishes a 'skoan'-sayer from a 'skon'-sayer.

So I am now presenting TWO separate new polls, in an attempt to find out what's at the bottom of this. This time, I am not asking about what you believe people in other parts of the country say, but only about what you say.

This is how it works: the top poll is for anyone who grew up, for the most part, north of Birmingham. Do not answer it if you grew up south of Birmingham. For you, there is the bottom poll.

Birmingham is a good point at which to divide the country in half, because I was born there, so clearly it is Very Important. If you actually grew up in Birmingham (like me), you may decide for yourself whether you feel that, on balance, you are more of a southerner or a northerner. If you grew up in Scotland or Northern Ireland, I'd say you're pretty definitively northern. The Welsh, like the Brummies, will have to make their own minds up, though, as a line drawn due west of B'ham probably doesn't have much meaning once it hits Wales.

You can also use your own judgement to decide what constitutes 'growing up' somewhere. E.g. if you were born in Newcastle, of local parents, but moved to Devon at the age of 4, you will have to decide whether your parents or your schoolmates had a greater influence on your pronunciation of the word 'scone'. Once you have decided, though, stick with your decision.

DO NOT ANSWER BOTH POLLS. I WILL BE CHECKING!

Here we go, then:

[Poll #389615]

[Poll #389616]

UPDATE: I've just realised that LJ's default method of displaying a poll is to display the questions until a person has answered them, and after that to display the answers (assuming the person remains logged in, of course). This means that no-one can see the results in the poll they didn't vote in, unless they actively click on it and go to look. I was wondering for ages why southern people seemed so much more inclined to vote that northern people... until I realised that northern people had been voting - it's just that, as a self-defined southerner, I couldn't see them.

If you're keen to see the results in the half you didn't vote in for now, you can go directly to the northern results here or the southern results here. Meanwhile, I will probably summarise them both in a separate post in the end anyway, assuming they reveal anything at all.
strange_complex: (Default)
It's confusing being a Midlander sometimes (for those unaware, I grew up in Birmingham).

Long and short 'a's )

But I digress from the real issue at stake: scones.

How this came up )

In any case, I now want to check up on where each pronunciation is most common with the help of you, gentle readers. I know that both are in use: but where does each prevail? Tell me which bits of Britain you think are busy eating skoans, and which parts are happily munching on skons instead.

[Poll #386998]
Apologies, incidentally, to the good people of Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland for not providing the option to further subdivide your (our?) regions: I'm only allowed a maximum of 15 options for this type of poll question, it transpires, so you will have to comment if you think different rules apply in different parts of your country. Comments on the typical pronunciation in English-speaking countries are, of course, also welcome.
strange_complex: (Default)
Now that a bunch of people have voted in my How do you pronounce the word 'meme'? poll, I shall now comment on the results of the poll and outline my own views on the matter. I'd already indicated my own views in my comments on a previous post, so they were in the public forum, but not explicitly stated in a post, and, besides, they have developed somewhat since I brought the issue up.

In its original sense of a unit of cultural information which propagates itself from one person to another via imitation, the word 'meme' should definitely be pronounced with only one syllable, to rhyme with e.g. 'scheme'. This makes sense given that it was created on analogy with 'gene' (by, I now know, Richard Dawkins in his book The Selfish Gene), and several web sites back me up on this.

Dawkins' book was published in 1976, so obviously well before Live Journal had even been dreamt of. Thus, he has the prior claim on the meaning and pronunciation of the word.

Now, his word has been adopted by LJ-users to describe instructions or quizzes copied from one journal to another. It makes sense to me that this was originally done in the light of Dawkins' concept, because an LJ meme does indeed spread via imitation (and sometimes evolve in the process). 68.4% of my readers (at the time of writing) seem to agree at least that this is how the word should now be pronounced in an LJ context, even if this doesn't necessarily mean that they believe the word itself actually came from Dawkins.

However, an LJ meme is not quite the same thing as one of Dawkins' memes. It describes something which only exists in a very specific context (LJ), and one result of the nature of that context is that it tends to function as a way to talk about oneself. Thus, an alternative theory as to the origins of the word in an LJ context is that it derives from a phrase such as 'me on me', condensed down to 'meme'. 31.6% of my readers believe that the word should be pronounced 'me-me', with two syllables, although, as for the one-syllable camp, I recognise that this does not necessarily mean that they believe the word derives from 'me on me' or similar.

Personally, I feel inclined to stick with my original belief that the word should be pronounced 'meem' with one syllable, à la Dawkins. However, since this is a text-only forum, I am also in the end rather pleased to find that this means we can all have it both ways. I like the idea that when I write the word, it can be interpreted by my readers as having both one syllable and two, and coming from either Dawkins or 'me on me' or both (or neither). After all, both sets of ideas about the origins of the word make sense on LJ. I prefer the Dawkins theory, because it obviously came first. Also, I think the 'me writing about me' idea is somewhat flawed in that that description could apply to almost any LJ entry, and it doesn't go far enough to clarify what is distinctive about a meme. I will therefore continue to let Dawkins be dominant in guiding my own pronunciation. But all the same, I like to feel the second theory, and its associated prounciation, is also conveyed whenever I type the word 'meme' within Live Journal.

Meanwhile, two new pronunciations which I hadn't previously come across were also brought to my attention in the course of my research. [livejournal.com profile] hyzenflay's 'mem' (pronounced like the French word, 'même') I like more and more the more I think about it, because the French word of course means 'same', which also relates to the meaning of 'meme', both within and outside Live Journal. It wouldn't surprise me, in fact, if it was part of what Dawkins had in mind when he coined the term. So I now want to feel that whenever I write the word 'meme', this, too, is a small part of what is conveyed by my text.

[livejournal.com profile] stompyboots's 'memmy' leaves me a bit more puzzled I must confess. But I am very willing to hear her explanation of why she pronounces it thus, and to incorporate the connotations of that pronunciation, too, into my meaning whenever I type it in future!
strange_complex: (Default)
I know where I stand on this, but I want to find out what the majority of the people on my friends list think.

I also haven't yet done a poll since getting a paid account, so it's about time I tried it out.

[Poll #374257]

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