Raising the Bridge.

LH commenter Zhoen writes:

There is a railroad bridge in North Carolina that has eaten a number of trucks and vans. So they are raising it. The video is interesting. But the workman in it has an accent I cannot place. Or rather, it seems to come from a dozen places at once.

Any thoughts? (I have to agree with one of the YouTube commenters that the raising is unlikely to solve the problem.)

Comments

  1. Bits sound like a German accent.

  2. Come, of course. Bad typing, sorry.

  3. Would it help answer the question if you knew, say, the man’s entire family background for three generations?

    Well, here you go:
    Words.yovo.info

    I do what I can.

  4. The non-native bits sound like a Dutch or North German or some other kind of Germanic accent — let’s say somewhere around the North Sea. And occasionally, I hear Canadian.

    But perhaps it’s one of the MANY Norwegian accents? 😉 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Yvsnc6NCJp8

  5. Fixed the typo, as I should have done before posting — sorry, it’s been a long day!

  6. Let me see if I can force this past moderation.

    Type these three words with dots in between, making it a web address:

    words
    yovo
    info

    It will give the man’s family history for a couple generations, in various parts of Germany.

    He’s not a workman, by the way. His name is Jurgen Henn, and he’s an IT staffer at Duke, whose office was near the bridge. He set up a camera to track the many trucks whose trailer tops were unzipped by the bridge.

    [I freed your original comment from Spam Hell; sorry about that! –LH]

  7. I once drove behind a semi as it passed under a similar bridge in Chicago. It was just a hair too tall, and the bridge carved thin strips of metal off the corners of the top of the trailer. But the truck got through. The strips were still attached near the back of the truck at the sides. The driver didn’t seem to notice and continued driving, with these long, thin strips of metal arcing backwards from the back of the truck, like giant rear-facing antennae, bouncing up and down. It was one of the more dangerous situations I’ve ever driven in. I don’t remember whether I tried to pass him and alert him, or simply stopped.

  8. I think razing the bridge might solve one problem, but create others. I think I drove under that bridge the last time I visited a friend in Durham.

  9. To me, he sounded a bit like Boris Becker but with an American accent.

  10. David Marjanović says:

    Exactly – it’s a German accent aimed (mostly?) at an American instead of a British model. That’s very rare, but least so among scientists…

    Jürgen, BTW.

  11. It will give the man’s family history for a couple generations, in various parts of Germany.

    Wow, impressive research — problem solved!

  12. Jen in Edinburgh says:

    *Razing* the bridge definitely sounds likely to create new problems…

  13. Thank you all very much.

  14. Funny that the word ‘yovo’ immediately sounded familiar, as I lived in Benin and Togo in the 1980s: ‘white person’ is ‘yovo’ in Fon (Benin) and in Ewe (Togo, eastern Ghana), both belonging to the Gbe family. And sure enough, Jürgen lived in Togo in the 1990s, so that’s where his blog’s name comes from.

  15. Thanks for that added, and extremely interesting, info!

  16. I find it interesting that there’s apparently still a German presence in Togo. I suppose that’s where The Katzenjammer Kids was more or less supposed to be set?

  17. Trond Engen says:

    Hey, another structural engineering post! From what I managed to read about this bridge, it seems that the project is more about stopping the bad publicity than actually improving road safety. I gather that another overpass nearby with lower free height, more accidents and no live camera was left unraised.

    Stephen: the MANY Norwegian accents

    Thanks! The different Norwegian accents in English are quite good. Some minor issues, but the linguistic ones are more with phonology than the differences in sentence melody, which was the point here. One is the Finnmark/Sami accent, which would typically have a narrow v, almost f, rather than an over-the-top w. As for non-linguistic issues: The descriptions, of course, rely on regional stereotypes, which can be fun to learn about, but they could have been translated better with a little work on the manuscript (“the smiling South” rather then “the happy South”). While the Sami village (and “capital”) Kautokeino is mentioned, the neighbouring (and rival) Sami village of Karasjok is marked on the map.

    Surely speakers of other languages can do different regional accents in English? Every Western country has politicians and sports stars speaking their own idiosyncromatic English in inernational media. They may not have the distinct regional sentence melodies of Norwegian, but also phonology and phonotactics make for great substrate features.

  18. John Cowan says:

    Yes, which is why Standard English, unlike most other dialects, has not only no single pronunciation, it has thousands of pronunciations.

  19. David Marjanović says:

    different regional accents in English

    Exhibit A: compare any stereotyped German accent, or even Henn’s, to Schwarzenegger’s.

  20. J.W. Brewer says:

    We are very familiar with that bridge in our household because, although he may have moved on to other interests now, when he was four my now-five-year-old really really really enjoyed watching youtube clips of the collisions documented by Herr Henn’s camera.

  21. I find it interesting that there’s apparently still a German presence in Togo.
    It never was a settler colony, but it seems that there is. Colleagues having worked in Ghana in the 90s told me that there was a German butcher in Lomé, and people would travel there to stock up on sausages. That’s how we Germans are, wherever we go, we set up a brewery and a butcher’s, because nobody outside Central Europe knows how to make good beer and sausages. 🙂

  22. David Marjanović says:

    “The British Empire covers a quarter of the globe, while the German Empire consists of a sausage factory in tahn-gah-NYEE-kah.”
    – Blackadder

  23. Tsingtao Beer!

  24. John Cowan says:

    Well, yes. Founded by the Anglo-German Brewery Company, a Hong Kong firm, and originally known as Germania-Brauerei, saith WP. Perhaps of interest, though WP has marked it with the dreaded “citation needed” superscript:

    Originally, Tsingtao Beer was brewed in accordance with the German Reinheitsgebot (“Purity Law”) of 1516. Therefore, the only ingredients used were water, barley, and hops. However, the recipe changed after privatization [in 1993]; like many other beers made in China, Tsingtao Beer contains a proportion of the less-expensive rice as an adjunct in the mash.

    It is certainly not the fault of either Eberhard Anheuser (a soap manufacturer with money to invest) or Adolphus Busch (a jumped-up beer salesman for Anheuser’s company that had ideas about pasteurization and refrigerated transport) that Budweiser became what it is today.

  25. David Marjanović says:

    Not sure why you bring up Budweiser, because Budweis is České Budějovice, halfway between Prague and Linz.

  26. John Cowan says:

    Busch, according to A-B, was inspired to create the U.S. Budweiser in 1896 after a trip to Budweis a few years before. Thanks to pasteurization and refrigeration, it became the first U.S. beer brand produced in one place (the St. Louis brewery, now a private museum) and distributed throughout the country.

  27. Bottom line: Budweiser in America is a common and hideous beer, or “beer.”

  28. David Marjanović says:

    I know. I thought we were talking about German cultural exports…

  29. There were quite a few Germans in South Carolina from colonial times. Their most novel contribution to the local culture seems to be the unique mustard-based barbecue sauce found in the Midlands.

  30. John Cowan says:

    U.S. Budweiser is more a U.S. cultural appropriation than a German cultural export, or rather it started out as an export but then changed.

  31. J.W. Brewer says:

    I think David M. may be disputing the German-ness of the Ur-Budweiser, which seems rather anachronistic. The Königreich Böhmen had been an integral part of the Deutscher Bund as long as that was a thing. When Mr. Busch visited in the 1890’s, Budweis itself had only recently switched from being a majority-German-speaking town to a slight majority of Czech speakers. Obviously Czech nationalism was very much on the rise at the time, but hardly relevant to the world of beer – it’s not like what subsequently became the Czech-German border coincided with any border between national or regional styles. Indeed, Tsingtao beer is often described as a “pilsner.” It seems petty to insist that the pilsner style is un-Czech but just as petty to insist that it’s un-German. (Turns out the fellow who is given credit for creating the style was a Bavarian who worked for a few years at a brewery in Pilsen in the 1840’s before going back home – when he temporarily relocated from Bavaria to Bohemia did he think he was leaving “Germany”?)

  32. David Marjanović says:

    I think David M. may be disputing the German-ness of the Ur-Budweiser

    Exactly. It’s not “German” in the sense the colonialism in Togo was.

    in the 1840’s […] – when he temporarily relocated from Bavaria to Bohemia did he think he was leaving “Germany”?

    Probably not, but he was leaving the Kingdom of Bavaria for the Austrian Empire…

  33. January First-of-May says:

    Probably not, but he was leaving the Kingdom of Bavaria for the Austrian Empire…

    …in other words, he only didn’t think he was “leaving Germany” because he probably never thought he was in “Germany” in the first place.

    (And that’s assuming he didn’t; in the 1840s, technically, he would, in fact, have left Germany, though he might not necessarily have thought of it that way.)

  34. Yeah, the whole concept of “Germany” was in flux in those days (and for many decades to follow).

  35. That’s how we Germans are, wherever we go, we set up a brewery and a butcher’s, because nobody outside Central Europe knows how to make good beer and sausages.

    That was the common ethnic slur for Germans in Tsarist Russia – kolbasniki “the sausage-makers”.

    And popular children mocking rhyme was “Nemets, perets, kolbasa” (German, pepper, sausage).

  36. This, by the way, was another reason why Hitler’s idea of German master race ruling over Russische Untermenschen was such a non-starter.

    Germans were so common, so mundane, so boring feature of everyday life in old Russia that the idea of them becoming an Aryan master race was utterly laughable to Russian population.

    Soviet anti-German war propaganda skillfully exploited this preexisting image of Germans mercilessly mocking their pretenses of racial superiority .

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