Strange Sounds in the Echo Chamber

Echo ChamberCapt. Fogg over at Human Voices has written an amusing article about a telephone survey he did. I suspect that you’ve had one of these that appear not to be a survey but an advertisement. “Would you vote for Representative Popular if you knew that he ate live kittens? What about if you knew that he wore ear plugs so he wouldn’t have to listen to them scream? Did I mention that his reelection is the seventh sign that will herald Armageddon?”

You get the idea.

Capt. Fogg mentions that he knew the call must be from a conservative group because they always referred to the “Democrat” Party, rather than the “Democratic” Party. This is a dead give away. But he goes on:

You probably aren’t old enough to remember how easy it was to determine political polarity by noting how the speaker pronounced Vietnam. It rhymed with Pete Ham if you were for the glorious crusade to protect American freedom. Curiously the same dialect discrimination obtained with our invasion of Iraq. If it was Eye-wrack, you were for it. But these chuckleheads can’t bring themselves to acknowledge the Democratic Party by saying it right and they’re too smugly stupid to notice that I might notice. They always and steadfastly and in the face of cannon fire, call it the ‘Democrat’ Party.

I think that Capt. Fogg is wrong about these people being too smugly stupid to think he would notice. I think these kinds of idiosyncratic pronunciations start off as a signaling device, but they don’t stay that way. (Geoffrey Nuremberg has written about this, but I don’t own any of his books right now, so I can’t be all learned and shit.) I think people in these subgroups only ever hear people pronounce these things one way, so they think they are only pronounced that way.

This is illustrative of the biggest difference between conservatives and liberals. Even the most extreme liberals live in the regular world where people get most of their news from Scott Pelley and Ellen DeGeneres. But conservatives live in an alternate reality and they don’t get out much. This has major negative consequences like being able to more easily dehumanize other people. But it also affects their language. And them’s fightin’ words!

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

2 thoughts on “Strange Sounds in the Echo Chamber

  1. That’s interesting. I always assumed people say DemocRAT Party on purpose. But it makes sense that some people never heard it said any other way.

  2. @MadKane – I could be wrong, of course. I know that in the early 70s, "democrat party" was used by Republicans to annoy. I’m sure a lot still do. But I think the echo chamber effect is at least part of it.

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