December 09, 2004

All Us Girls

Sorry for the silence. I've been involved in some bizarre literary activities and just couldn't fit any blogging in.

This quote has been making the rounds, and it isn't bad, so I figure I may as well join the party.

Gwen Stefani on songwriting:

Tony called me and I was like, 'Dude, I suck.' And he was like, 'Dude, come over.' So I went to his house and a bunch of our friends there were playing these tracks that Tony was doing that were, like, stupid. I was like, "You did not do these." And he's like, 'Yep, you wanna hear your tracks?' And I was like, 'Nuh-uh, you did not.' So he pulls out this one and I'm like, 'Oh my God, that's my song.'

All I can say is, I can relate. Not to the composition method (I'm a lousy collaborator - all attempts to co-write end in misery and devastation where I'm involved.) Rather, I can relate to the challenge of doing interviews when you're handicapped by a California upbringing. Usually, your quotes get edited so that you sound pretty much like a normal person. But sometimes, either because it's kind of funny or because of a misguided desire for scrupulous accuracy, they will transcribe every like, y'know, dude, and whatever. And no matter who you are, you come off like a Valley Girl. In fact, that's pretty much how we all are, but that's no reason to rub it in.

Posted by Dr. Frank at December 9, 2004 03:33 PM | TrackBack

well,you've never come off as a generalized Californian to me,nervously reserved maybe,but
that's about it.

Posted by: just me at December 9, 2004 06:43 PM

California slang really is a curse. I've been talking to this guy, and I really have to restrain myself from calling him 'dude'. It's not very lady-like, you know.
I even type how I, like, talk.

Posted by: Megan at December 9, 2004 06:58 PM

Having never seen the word "nuh-uh" written out until now (though, admittedly, having been a user of it from time to time), I keep reading it, repeating it, and laughing at it over and over again.


Posted by: Matt Riggle at December 9, 2004 07:43 PM

I'm confused. Is "stupid" good or bad?

Posted by: josh at December 9, 2004 08:03 PM

"California" pop culture / talk is really just a proxy for saying "America's Future" pop culture / talk.

For better or for worse, the rest of the country will follow whatever California is doing now, albeit in highly derivative form, in a matter of a few years.

Ever watched the show "The OC," which didn't air until 2003?

It's taking the country by storm and, really, it's just a very exaggerated and mutated portrayal of what OC (hold the "the") was like back in 1990 when the rest of the country was still listening to REM and Mr. Big.

Posted by: Aryamehr University at December 9, 2004 10:27 PM

oh yeah..the oc,veronica mars,7th heaven,all are assuredly on my weekly tv viewing schedule...

...back in reality...

i don't know,california can unfortunately be quite the trend setter but i like to give people some credit. when i didn't live here i may have had a semi-unrealistic understanding but it wasn't always due to television.

presuming that's what you're implying,i do have the capacity to be confused too much of the time.

Posted by: just me at December 9, 2004 11:20 PM

I know where it comes from, but I figured if you were the right age in the 80's, you just talked that way no matter what. Like, I do it all the time. Duuuude.

Posted by: Dave not Bug at December 9, 2004 11:37 PM

You can help justify the "dudes" by explaining that the word serves a particular purpose in grammar:

Although Gwen's excessive use of it seems to contradict his point.

Posted by: Dave Bug at December 9, 2004 11:59 PM

I know they don't always include every fumbling word or cough in an interview. Makes for a poor read. I can't see it having a good effect in something like:
"So do you feel a strong connection to your fans since the last tour?"


Posted by: holy modal rounder at December 10, 2004 01:04 AM

I picked up "dude" from an old boyfriend who was the right age in the '80s to have adopted it. I still haven't eliminated it from my vocabulary, despite continual effort to do so.

My dad's case of California-speak is pretty bad, too. He was a surfer down in Santa Barbara during the '60s, so he spouts off surfer words from time to time. It's so weird to hear my dad tell me that he's "stoked" about something, or that it's "far out." I envision a day in the future when he and his brother are about 80 years old, toting their longboards out to the beach for some cool senior citizen surfing.

Dude! Far out!

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 10, 2004 02:09 AM

i find it enjoyable when people "fully" do things. i feel like asking if they've ever done anything emptilly,yes i know that's not a word.

Posted by: just me at December 10, 2004 05:41 AM

I could definately tell those californian accents when i was out there and i find the concept of accents in america really amusing! YOu woudln't believe how much crap i got for saying words like "bOat," "cOat," or "bAg". I'm from Minnesota.

Posted by: Erin at December 10, 2004 05:43 AM

the california dialect will destroy all other moderate dialects. since we lost the distinction between "cot" and "caught", the rest of american english speakers will too!!!!

linguists love the etymology of "dude". it's annoying as hell after awhile.

Posted by: kendra at December 10, 2004 07:38 AM

That's just one of the many poor American dialects that we have, so you sound like an air-head if you talk like Gwen does, people from the deep South (Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Texas) sound like they just hopped out of the TV screen from Deliverance or the Dukes of Hazzard, people from New York, especially the Bronx, sound like retards and people from Connecticut, Mass. and New Hampshire all sound like Ted Kennedy. Midwesterners don't sound too bad, neither do Canadians, but I'm all for a movement to bring back the Queens English, even though it's so slang-ridden that I can't understand what the hell the Brits are saying most of the time.

Posted by: Zaphod at December 10, 2004 10:29 AM

i had a friend accuse me of using the king's english just because i wasn't using contractions.

he said "even Data learned to use a contraction every once in a while."

i don't know if that really counts but personally i think it wouldn't be a bad thing myself,except I like the New York accents,we have to keep those.

Posted by: just me at December 10, 2004 05:26 PM

Hey, it's better than our New Jersey "Include a swear or insult in every sentance" slang.

Posted by: michael lee at December 10, 2004 05:49 PM

I was shocked at how much and how freely people swear up here when I moved to Jersey from Texas. I always thought I cursed a lot, but fuckin' a'. And what's up with the phrases like "done this book" instead of "done/finished WITH this book?" Where's the "with?" Or "down the shore?" I always thought it was the beach, and where's the "to?" And the next time someone "busts" on me for saying "water" instead of "wutter" I'm gonna scream. You Jersey bastards are crazy. I could go on an on.

I also don't have a Texas accent, so people up here are surprised when I say I'm from Texas.

Posted by: Chris Fabulous at December 10, 2004 08:12 PM

Chris, you're talking about the South Jersey accent -- I'm a California transplant resisting it, too. That weird, rounded "o" ("boewt" instead of "boat") really gets me. But at least South Jerseyans don't seem to say "yiz" (that means "you" in case folks are wondering, as in "What're yiz havin' with your cheesesteak?") as much as the Fluffyans do.

I thought no doubt were from Chicago. Do I have that wrong? From Gwen's dialect, it sounds more like they're from South Park.

Posted by: Nick at December 10, 2004 08:27 PM

no doubt is totally a southern california thing. TOTALLY DUDE!!!!

chicago accents make me laugh. every time i talk to my boyfriend's dad, i have to chuckle a bit. it's great, that whole midwest vowel loss.

Posted by: kendra at December 10, 2004 09:03 PM

It's a blessing, not a curse.

Posted by: Matt Welch at December 10, 2004 09:05 PM

Seeing so many uses of the phrase "Dude." are reminding me of so many nights vegging out on T.V.
There's Snake from "The Simpsons", Mike from the original TMNT toon. There's practically every stereotypical California beach bum character to boot.

On the other hand I've never really been too annoyed by phrases such as Dude, gnarly, radical, tubular, sweet, cool, awesome, rocks or many other West Coast phrases that have been ingrained forever in the mind of pop culture.

There is one phrase that irks me a little, and that is "Like". Not because it's even all that bad. Hell we've all muttered it at some point. It's the excessiveness of it that annoys.
For instance, I have a rather bright, otherwise intelligent cousin, who utters it constantly.
10 minutes into any conversation, and it's been said over 1,000 times.

In any case I don't think I've ever heard you say any of these phrases in such abundance.
So it seems to me you're one of the few unscathed by bad editing.

Posted by: Rich at December 10, 2004 11:31 PM

glad you're so bemused by us humble midwesterners with our lost vowels. next time you fly over give us a little condescending wave won't ya?

Posted by: holy modal rounder at December 11, 2004 12:24 AM

sure thing. (though i probably do it out of jealousy.)

only problem is that regional variations of english are dying out, such that the triangle vowel loss is being supplanted by the californian vowel loss. it's amazing what mass media can do towards standardizing a language. i mean, dialects are dying in germany!

Posted by: kendra at December 11, 2004 01:56 AM


In the Midwest we like to have it both ways: "I'm done finished with that book."

If you wanna get really fancy, you could call it "that there book."

Posted by: Dave not Bug at December 11, 2004 03:48 PM

Oh, I done been gone too long.

"I done finished that there book." Would someone who could actually read a book say something like that? Surprisingly, yes.

Posted by: Dave not Bug at December 11, 2004 03:50 PM

kendra, time to schedule your headfrombutt-echtomy.

Posted by: holy modal rounder at December 12, 2004 03:42 AM

Sorry Dave, but I think you're confusing the Midwest with the South. People here in the TRUE Midwest Ohio (unless they're a Kentucky transplant, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, Wisonsin, Iowa and Minnesota all speak the same dialect. The dialect is pretty standard with not much slang involved. The exception is the people who wish to speak the "Urban/black" dialect and the Chicagoans who wish to speak like Mike Ditka "da Bearsh" instead of "the Bears". You don't get redneck language until you go as far south as Kentucky. I think Missouri follows the Midwest dialect, but just to the South in Arkansas, look out for Billy-Joe Bob Bubba.

Posted by: Zaphod at December 13, 2004 12:29 AM

"...and people from Connecticut, Mass. and New Hampshire all sound like Ted Kennedy..."

Hey, now! Being from NH, I have to take exception to that remark. Most of us here are relatively unencumbered by weird accents. We have that neutral speech so favored by news anchors. You have to go way out to the rural areas to get the hick accent that is not unlike that of Boston-area residents. But the fact is that NOBODY ON EARTH talks like the Kennedy family. It's like they're from another planet.
Oh, yeah...we DO say "Dude." Ugh. I'm guilty.

That being said, how sad is it that our national slang now comes almost entirely from crusty surfer dudes and gangstaz?

Posted by: Stig at December 13, 2004 05:32 PM

Sorry Zaphod,

I grew up in the country outside Hartford City, IN. Lived my whole life there until I turned 18 and spent four years at Indiana University in Bloomington, IN. Then I moved to Muncie and continued to live there and work in Hartford City for the next 5 years until I moved to Florida this year.

One thing I DO know is how a general class of Hoosiers speak. Twenty-nine years in one state is long enough to pick that up. Not all, but a good deal of Hoosiers, speak as I previously described, with a great many more little redneck-isms or whatever you want to call them smattered about the dialect. I even catch myself doing it. It's a common way of speaking, whether your a "redneck" or not. Like all things though, it exists in various degrees from really bad with a thick hick accent (almost like a kind of Boomhauer speak--and yes I realize that's a Texan parody) to virtually non-existant.

However, one thing I can't vouch for is how people in Ohio or the rest of the Midwest speak since I have spent very little time anywhere other than Indiana.

So, you may talk normal over there in the true Midwest, but in Indiana there's a bunch of hicks with funny accents (not Southern, though you do start to pick that up as you get close to the Ohio river) putting extra words in sentences and saying things like: feesh (fish), booshes (bushes), battree (battery), bub (bulb) and a myriad of other linguistic oddities.

But then there are plenty of people who probably speak nearly indistinguishable from your true Ohio Midwesterner. ;)

Posted by: Dave not Bug at December 13, 2004 10:44 PM

Everyone I have ever known from New Hampshire has had neutral speech.

No Doubt is from Anaheim. On their Beacon Street Collection album, you can see a picture of a nice Anaheim house. And if you were wondering why they felt compelled to write "Tragic Kingdom", now you know.

I don't know if it had anything to do with Gwen's brother going into animation, though.

Posted by: Elizabeth at December 14, 2004 05:55 AM

Speaking from an interviewer/transcriptionist point of view, I honestly don't think it's just a California thing. I've spoken with a lot of musicians from other places who are just as bad with the constant usage of "dude" and "like." It tends to double the time needed for my job and sometimes, as seems to be the case with Gwen, there isn't much else to work with to get around the Valley Girl sound.

Posted by: Rikki at December 14, 2004 06:38 AM

Sorry if what I said was misinterpreted Dave, I was including Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Minnesota and Wisconsin in the TRUE midwest, not just Ohio. You've never been to Ohio? Muncie is almost right on the border. Anyway, the time I've spent in Indiana in the cities of Lawrenceburg, Muncie, Indianapolis, Ft. Wayne have shown the people to have neutral dialects unless they're Kentucky transplants, which there is an AWFUL lot of them. Even Northern Kentucky, almost anything North of Lexington the people have the neutral accents, unless they've moved up from the Southern part of the state. My family lives in the Southern part and the accent is THICK. I live on the border of OH and KY and there is no Southern drawl here, except for those who have moved here from farther South. Oh well, that's my observation.

Posted by: Zaphod at December 14, 2004 10:25 AM


Oh, I've been to Ohio many, many times (relatives there). I've been to pretty much every state in the union except Alaska, Washington, and Oregon. I just have never stayed in any of them for more than a few days or weeks (if not just passing through) at a time.

Truthfully, I didn't misinterpret your comment, but I was playing (albeit poorly) with a notion that perhaps Indiana wasn't really part of the Midwest since a significant portion of the people I've interacted with all of my life do NOT have a "neutral" accent. And it has nothing to with proximity to Kentucky (which starts to get into either a hillbilly accent or a slight southern drawl). It's just a hick accent, for lack of a better term. Take all those things I described above, throw in a strong tendency to turn one syllable words and names like Chad, Tim, milk, peel, spill, etc, and turn them into TWO syllable words (spee-uhl, mee-ulk, Tee-em, Chay-ad). Also, a good portion of these people don't know how to use the verb "were". We wuhz, they wuhz, you wuhz...

I dunno, to me it kind of sounds like King of the Hill without the Texan drawl...especially Mr. Strickland and Dale Gribble.

Posted by: Dave not Bug at December 14, 2004 04:46 PM

Like you, I've been to every state except for Hawaii (probably go this or next year for vacation), but in my travels we must've passed through different regions because I didn't notice the same accents as you did when I've been in Lawrenceburg, Indianapolis, Muncie and Ft. Wayne.

Posted by: Zaphod at December 15, 2004 10:46 AM

Yeah, I suppose you have to hang in the right places, or spend a lot of time around people with the "neutral" accents to pick up the regional quirks. People from other areas who don't generally know people from Indiana take awhile to pick up on the handful of hick-isms in my own speech, because they aren't obvious in myself, or most people. But when you run into someone with the full blown accent, it's something you'll remember. My father owns a franchise of a family restaurant indigenous to northeastern Indiana. It's basically a Bob Evans, but less expensive (think about that for a minute, city folk). Now that's the kind of place where you can count on running into these people every day, all day long. Fun stuff. :D

Posted by: Dave not Bug at December 15, 2004 11:25 PM

don't feel to bad. at least you have the excuse that you're from cali and whatnot. i talk like that i'm from long island. hahahaha. my dudes and totally are out of control... it's so bad. :)

Posted by: barbie* at January 4, 2005 08:05 AM

I don't understand how you can talk of a "neutral accent". Firstly, that's a contradiction of terms. Secondly, even if you think of "Queen's English" as a pure accent, the original accent would be anything but neutral to a modern day person.

Also, I am from England, and you all sound crazy to me!

I do not see how you can insult another on their accent, there is no definitive way to talk and so every accent is a dialect. I've only lived two places in the south of England yet my parents are from the north, which it's very obvious to people who know me, however, to Americans(or northeners) I would sound stereotypical posh-english-villain (in girl form).

Posted by: rivelea at January 8, 2005 10:14 PM

I'm an immigrant, traveled around USA. and then realized, there're only two major dialect in the country.

One thing is L.A. Dialect and the other thing is NYC Dialect.

All young people in midwest, west and south talk like LA people. and in northeast, all young people talk like NYC People.

Here is the thing, i'm not talking about Accent, pronunciation. I'm talking about the way they talk. I mean, in terms of the praise, words, and expression.

As you see, Northeastern dialect is basically the same as the dialect from london, sydney, auckland, dublin, and eastern canada.

Also ,as you can see, I learn English by talking In i can understand what people say from all of this country.

Even, i can watch British sitcom, listen BBC london radio.

Posted by: Tom at February 3, 2005 04:22 PM

I'm an immigrant, traveled around USA. and then realized, there're only two major dialect in the country.

One thing is L.A. Dialect and the other thing is NYC Dialect.

All young people in midwest, west and south talk like LA people. and in northeast, all young people talk like NYC People.

Here is the thing, i'm not talking about Accent, pronunciation. I'm talking about the way they talk. I mean, in terms of the praise, words, and expression.

As you see, Northeastern dialect is basically the same as the dialect from london, sydney, auckland, dublin, and eastern canada.

Also ,as you can see, I learn English by talking In i can understand what people say from all of this country.

Even, i can watch British sitcom, listen BBC london radio.

Posted by: tom at February 3, 2005 04:24 PM

I can't beleive I'm replying to such an old thread, but I feel it's important to respond to the post regarding neutral accents.

Rivelea says that she does not understand how this thread can speak of a "neutral accent". First I'll point out that phrasing, vocabulary, euphamisms, and oddities such as "dude" can be sometimes be stripped away, but cadence, drawl and pronounciation are much more difficult. Major news broadcasters try continually to find news journalists that have a just such a "neutral accent." Just look at NBC, CBS, or even CNN. In the mid 70s through 80s the best states to find news journalists with the least amount of twang or other oddities in their speach was the upper midwest states (to my best recollection) such as urban or suburban Missouri; due to the clear diction and even cadence, or Kansas. Minnesotans are a little to nasal and pepper their language with affirmatives. Go too south and the even cadence turns into the drawl. There are instances on the West Coast you can get a fairly clean accent, but it depends on how the person was brought up and where their parents were from (midwest). A surprise example of this is Aaron Brown on CNN who is from Seattle. (Not sure of his teenage years and earlier though).

So yes, there is such a thing as a neutral accent even though I would happily avoid calling it Queen's English since we have long since left that realm. In logical terms neutral accent is the overlapping region of all dialects of the spoken language thus stripping of regional affectations (most). Whether that occurs in a nation or language region is another issue and in the case of American English, we do.

DUDE! (said in the general affirmative sense).

Posted by: brant at August 11, 2005 04:04 AM

Aryabata from India introduced Zero to mathematics.

Posted by: Nirvana at October 3, 2005 12:17 PM