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The Psycholinguistic Pathos of Everyday Life 7 (Authenticity)

All of us––but especially Americans, because of our history as a nation of immigrants––have a drive for authenticity in our lives, in our experience and use of language, as well as in other aspects of our daily existence. This was exemplified yet again this morning when Y-H-B descended to the laundry room in his Manhattan apartment building for his weekly wash and encountered the sole other visitor, a man in his sixties who asked Y-H-B for help with the new machines that had just been installed.

What was remarkable about this gentlemen (for Y-H-B, at least) was his impeccably authentic New York accent, with all the correct vowels and intonations and the thorough r-lessness (elision of the liquid /r/) in all the right contexts. What a joy to hear this historically pristine speech, this rarely encountered exemplum of linguistic tradition!

MICHAEL SHAPIRO

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