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As a product of the Midwest, I say pop instead of soda and pronounce aunt like the insect. I’m fascinated by regional patois—why do Bostonians say frappe and not milkshake? Why do Wisconsinites say bubbler rather than water fountain? Undoubtedly Seth Lerer has some answers. In his seminar “English in America,” the University of California San Diego professor airs the idiosyncrasies of our language, accounting for the influence of politics, literature, and popular culture. Lerer’s four lectures address subjects like the impact of colonial settlement patterns on early American attitudes about English, and the considerable influence of African tongues. He also considers how such contemporary issues as immigration and digital technology might affect the future of the English language in America.
THE SEMINAR TAKES PLACES FROM 9:30 A.M. TO 4:15 P.M. AT THE SMITHSONIAN S. DILLON RIPLEY CENTER, 1100 JEFFERSON DR. SW. $120. (202) 633-3030.