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Dan Goodman's prediction and politics journal.

Saturday, April 24, 2004

Part of what I posted in a discussion on Forward Motion (http://fmwriters.com):

1) Note that in older legends, elves and other supernatural beings were _not_ from another world/land; they were longtime neighbors.

2) I think you're both mixing up two things here: being different from humans in the magical powers they have (note: don't rule out the possibility that humans do have magical powers) and being culturally different.

The original immigrants will never completely adapt. My great-grandmother came to the US when she was about 40; she knew several languages, but never really learned English. For most of her life, she didn't have to; she lived in a neighborhood where everyone spoke Yiddish. Only one of my grandparents spoke English without an accent.

I've met someone who came to the US from Germany when he was twelve. Doesn't have an accent in English -- but he can't pronounce th sounds, and avoids using words which contain them.

The first generation born in this country: It depends. There are Minnesotans of Scandinavian ancestry who speak English with an accent, because that's what people spoke when and where they grew up. And not all of them speak the old language. I know of a family which tried to avoid this happening to their children by moving to a German neighborhood; the kids grew up with German accents.

(Note: There are people who say that their ancestors learned English right away after coming to America. This is about as likely to be true as "No member of my religion has ever sinned.")

My mother grew up with a native accent -- pre-WW-II New York Metropolitan Area; that's what the kids around her spoke and that's what she learned. She could understand spoken Yiddish, but not speak it very well.

I grew up in the Catskills area; my accent is Hudson Valley. I know a few more words of Yiddish than most Americans do.

You're going to have at least that range. If your elves are really long-lived, some of the older ones may have learned languages now extinct, and not picked up any living Earthly language.

And then there are the descendants of immigrants returning to the Old Country. Elves returning to Elfhame, using the language they learned from old textbooks, not used to the customs (which may have changed a good deal since their ancestors arrived in our world.) Humans returning to our world, and finding it very different from what they expected.

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