Chaotic Meshed Dialects


American English dialects have been a broad and a wide variety along the states of the country of America. The eight currently existing North American dialects are Canada, Northern New England, the North, Greater New York City, the Midland, the South, North Central, and the West. Some of these dialects were born and cultivated from its rich history while others are a reflection of influences from other states and countries nearby. Still others are just an eventual effect due to technology, media, and the rapid advance of movement and transportation of people, goods, and ideas through time and space.

A dialect enthusiast who is himself a professional linguist was able to collect as much data on the different Northern American English dialects that are based on pronunciation patterns through researching sources in related books and in the web as well. Most of the information he used was taken from William Laboy, Sharon Ash, and Charles Roberg’s Atlas of North American English book. Rick Aschmann skillfully utilized a map to relate, integrate, and provide a huge variety of readers the information on the dialects he has collected. This map can also be considered to be a cognitive map since he also incorporated some of his personal analysis and insights on the dialects and pronunciations he has researched and observed; moreover, he adjusted some of the boundaries of those dialects he perceived to be appropriate.

It is quite obvious that Rick Aschmann is not really a specialist in making maps; however, the map he was able to produce is interesting as well as its content. Thus it is also more appropriate for him to post an interactive map on the web where anyone can read from it and where the information is plenty in one browser’s page. Aschmann was able to maximize the elements of the map including the map legend and the aesthetics of the map with the different eye-catching colors that go with its corresponding information. However, most of these elements went quite too far in terms of its wordiness. He did not use the element of scale in the map nor added a north arrow since what he is trying to achieve is only the distribution and the location of those dialects he had discovered to be. Aschmann was also able to include not only the eight major (shown in blue) North American dialects but also its sub dialects (shown in red). This may explain the crowdedness of the map especially in terms of colors and its corresponding legend on its margins.  There is also an absence of order in the map such that the information is spread and scattered. This may be distracting to the reader’s vision since there is also absence of directional focus thus making it quite chaotic. Aschmann can improve this map by placing a border on the peripheral sides of the map, ordering the legends on only one side of the map, placing a distinct title, and choosing a complementary chromatic color scheme for the states and its corresponding inverted or other color for the lines, dots, and labels.

Though there are a lot to improve on this map, Aschmann was still able to accomplish his objective on communicating the distribution and location of the North American English dialect; furthermore, its general appearance is enough to catch attention and interest.


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