AJP’s take on Josh Katz’s “Speaking American” – An exploration of culture with maps and digital humanities.

Journalist Josh Katz has done some incredible work in the digital humanities (i.e., using computers to analyze information and then making that information visual). See his map about the new phenomenon of men not working in the United States. And this map about the popularity of various contemporary television shows.

pp127His book Speaking American: How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk – A Visual Guide is very interesting. Don’t be deceived by the title “Speaking American” – this book is not at all saying there is any “one” or “correct” form of speaking. This book has over one hundred maps that illustrate how complex and different language is across the United States based on various surveys/quizzes. What words exist and don’t, as well as how they are pronounced differ in ways that match geography.

Have you heard of a “tag sale”??

If you want to borrow the book, let me know! We can mail it around to each other! 

This is not the kind of book I would recommend buying, necessarily, because there isn’t much to actually read, and it takes about 30 minutes to go through all 200 pages. It makes for a good “coffee table” book. Don’t get me wrong – there is plenty to think about. But once you look at it, the book has probably served its purpose. Unlike the articles linked above, the information in this book is not all that scientific. If you do buy a copy, buy a physical copy of this one! The kind of maps it has don’t work well on the Kindle.

Dr. Andrew Joseph Pegoda