Do You Speak American?

Front Cover
Random House LLC, Dec 18, 2007 - Language Arts & Disciplines - 240 pages
29 Reviews
Is American English in decline? Are regional dialects dying out? Is there a difference between men and women in how they adapt to linguistic variations?

These questions, and more, about our language catapulted Robert MacNeil and William Cran—the authors (with Robert McCrum) of the language classic The Story of English—across the country in search of the answers. Do You Speak American? is the tale of their discoveries, which provocatively show how the standard for American English—if a standard exists—is changing quickly and dramatically.

On a journey that takes them from the Northeast, through Appalachia and the Deep South, and west to California, the authors observe everyday verbal interactions and in a host of interviews with native speakers glean the linguistic quirks and traditions characteristic of each area. While examining the histories and controversies surrounding both written and spoken American English, they address anxieties and assumptions that, when explored, are highly emotional, such as the growing influence of Spanish as a threat to American English and the special treatment of African-American vernacular English. And, challenging the purists who think grammatical standards are in serious deterioration and that media saturation of our culture is homogenizing our speech, they surprise us with unpredictable responses.

With insight and wit, MacNeil and Cran bring us a compelling book that is at once a celebration and a potent study of our singular language.

Each wave of immigration has brought new words to enrich the American language. Do you recognize the origin of

1. blunderbuss, sleigh, stoop, coleslaw, boss, waffle?


2. dumb, ouch, shyster, check, kaput, scram, bummer?


3. phooey, pastrami, glitch, kibbitz, schnozzle?


4. broccoli, espresso, pizza, pasta, macaroni, radio?


5. smithereens, lollapalooza, speakeasy, hooligan?


6. vamoose, chaps, stampede, mustang, ranch, corral?

1. Dutch 2. German 3. Yiddish 4. Italian 5. Irish 6. Spanish

From the Hardcover edition.

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Review: Do You Speak American?

User Review  - Paul Madarasz - Goodreads

A great introduction to our American language, told in an erudite (but quite readable) fashion. This ex-linguistics major found a lot in it I didn't know. Read full review

Review: Do You Speak American?

User Review  - Tara - Goodreads

This was a great book. It discussed the linguistics of the very different American dialects and changing trends in pronunciation. Even if you are not a linguistic, after the first chapter the book is ... Read full review

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Sheila Wood Foard
Limited preview - 2006

References from web pages

Do you Speak American? (
For his newest book, "Do you Speak American?," co-author and former co-anchor of PBS' the macneil/Lehrer Newshour Robert macneil traveled throughout the ... wp-dyn/ articles/ A4207-2005Jan12.html

Do You Speak American . For Educators . Training | PBS
Do You Speak American? professional development materials for educators were produced by the Center for Applied Linguistics (CAL) in Washington, DC. ... speak/ education/ training/

May 18, 2005 - 'Do You Speak American?' - 2005-05-17
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VOA Wordmaster - May 18, 2005 - 'Do You Speak American?'
This week on Wordmaster: "Do You Speak American?" That's the name of a new book by journalist Robert macneil. Mr. macneil -- who was born and raised in ... voa/ wm/ wm301.html

Do You Speak American - Consulate General of the United States ...
DO YOU SPEAK AMERICAN is a celebration of Americans as seen - and heard - through the way American's speak. Here are just some of the topics they'll learn ... irc_video_do_you_speak_american.html

The Language Legend: Do you speak American?
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Nan A. Talese | Online Catalog | Do You Speak American? by Robert ...
Do You Speak American? Written by Robert Macneil and William Cran. Category: Language Arts. Format: Hardcover. Pub Date: December 2004. Price: $23.95 ... nanatalese/ catalog/ display.pperl?isbn=9780385511988& view=excerpt

Do You Speak American? - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Do You Speak American? is a documentary film and accompanying book about journalist Robert macneil's investigation into how different people throughout the ... wiki/ Do_You_Speak_American%3F

Bilingual Research Journal: Do You Speak American?
However, according to Robert macneil and William Cran in their book Do You Speak American?, this variation is a result not of linguistic misuse or decay, ... p/ articles/ mi_qa3722/ is_200510/ ai_n16705291/ print

Program - Do You Speak American? · Oregon Public Broadcasting
Do You Speak American? -a follow-up to macneil’s award-winning The Story of English -is an instant classic. Contact information: Contact DYSA ... programs/ program.php?id=17166

About the author (2007)

ROBERT MacNEIL and WILLIAM CRAN are the coauthors of The Story of English (with Robert McCrum). The coanchor of PBS’s The MacNeil/Lehrer Newshour until his retirement in 1995, Robert MacNeil is also the author of four nonfiction works, including his two volumes of memoir, Wordstruck and Looking for My Country, and three novels, The Voyage, Burden of Desire, and Breaking News. He lives in New York City.

From the Hardcover edition.

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