Friday, January 07, 2005

A Review, of Sorts: I did make time to watch Robert MacNeil's "Do You Speak American?" on PBS. I was a fan of his "Story of English" series many years ago, and as an English major I specialized in the history of the language Middle English literature. But I got excited for nothing. The show (a series of three one-hour episodes, really) was very short on information, contained very little technical discussion of dialect (as opposed to accent), focused almost exclusively on vocabulary rather than syntax or grammar (aside from one decent segment on black vernacular), and showcased MacNeil's nearly non-existent interviewing skills. I can't remember him asking a single decent follow-up question in the whole thing.

Perhaps the PBS viewer has gotten dumber in the past 20 years, but there was almost no meat to chew on in the whole program, other than a nod to the quasi-controversy of making English the official language. Yawn. The funny thing is, they're even hawking a "companion book" for the series (PBS stations will sell anything for a little extra do-re-mi). How they stretched it beyond a three-fold flyer is beyond me.

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