Tuesday, March 27, 2012

During which?

Whenever I hear the query “During which?”, as a native New Englander, born in Salem MA, I don't assume the querier is referring to The Great Witchcraft Hysteria of 1692 - as it’s called in Salem..
Witches, real/alleged, admitted/accused, just aren’t my cup of fired, caffinated tea (caffeinless rooibos is.) Nor need witches be. I leave witchly-fabrication to my fellow Salem-born author Nathaniel Hawthorne and his poisoned/poisoning character Beatrice in his "Rapaccini's Daughter" (1823)

Instead, I hear the clipped Yankee diction that my mother learned as a (Polish-speaking) neighborhood child at 'The House of the 7 Gables' Settlement House, City of Salem Public Schools, Salem High School, where & when she learned to speak Salem English.

In Salem, there’s no such thing as ‘overly-correct’ speech. How could there be? There’s English, American English, New England English, Yankee English, and (ultimately, in Salem) Salem English. Which I spoke, from infancy, having learned it at home, along with Belarusian Polish and my father's transplanted Glaswegian Scottish. During which mix-acquisition, Salem English seems to have prevailed. Ask anyone who hears me.

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