October 26th, 2014
12:35 AM ET

You say potato, I say...

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There are an estimated 7,000 languages in the world, and countless more accents and dialects. An accent can reveal a lot about a person – a spectrum of sounds with differing vowels and consonants, lilts and drawls, it can betray someone's geographic origin, level of education, social class.

But accents are malleable; they grow with you. I'm sure mine has changed since I first came to this country.

A new book published in the U.K. on accents caught my eye this week. It's titled You Say Potato. Focusing mainly on the British Isles, where the authors say an accent shifts every 25 miles, the book explores the way an accent can reflect identity.

On the book's website, people from around the world can upload how they say "potato" to a map. The title brings up the question: Does anyone actually say “potahto,” or was it just a good rhyme for the song made famous in Shall We Dance?

So far, we didn't find any "potahtoes" but the authors said there is a historical reason for this pronunciation – the "ah" vowel can be traced to the end of the 18th century in Britain.

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Topics: Last Look

soundoff (23 Responses)
  1. rupert

    Blue Saffron has an accent. He sounds like a little Hindu boy from Pakistan. And the pitch of his voice makes him sound like a F.A.GG
    Yep. Sounds like he has a potato with Indian sour cream up his a.zzz. his motto?
    I'm loving it.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:17 am | Reply
  2. stuart

    Blue Saffron had a big mac last night. And it wasn't from McDonald's. It was from a big man from India, 11". Lol

    October 26, 2014 at 7:20 am | Reply
  3. Blue Saffron

    I'm loving it.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:21 am | Reply
  4. rupert

    @Blue Saffron. Don't swallow too much. Remember too much sea-men can put a hole in your stomach lining like last time.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:25 am | Reply
  5. Blue Saffron

    I humped a camel last night.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:27 am | Reply
  6. Monica Lewinsky

    Blue Saffron is an excellent instructor. He know how to give awesome B/J's. He taught me how to satisfy.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:38 am | Reply
  7. Blue Saffron

    @monica. That's what I do. And I'm good at it.

    October 26, 2014 at 7:40 am | Reply
  8. Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

    Oh, what a wonderful topic! Thank you, CNN.
    We are so fortunate that speech reveals so much about others with whom we might do business or socialize!

    October 26, 2014 at 9:26 am | Reply
    • Joey Isotta-Fraschini ©

      Take, for example, the fine ear for speech patterns of @ rupert, the troll.
      He can vary sentence structure so convincingly that we actually believe that some of His creations are admirable, almost disgustingly simple and moralistic beings.

      October 26, 2014 at 9:33 am | Reply
  9. banasy@

    I like Rupert to socialize with. He is late to pick us up.

    October 26, 2014 at 9:33 am | Reply
  10. hamsta

    Same old bloggers from TJI.

    October 26, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Reply
  11. bobcat2u

    Nelson Mandela is sitting at home watching TV and drinking a beer when he hears a knock at the door. When he opens it, he is confronted by a little Ja panese man, clutching a clipboard and yelling, "You Sign! You sign!" Behind him is an enormous truck full of car exhausts.
    Nelson is standing there in complete amazement, when the Ja panese man starts to yell louder: "You sign! You sign!"
    Nelson says to him, "Look, you've obviously got the wrong man", and shuts the door in his face.

    The next day he hears a knock at the door again. When he opens it, the little Ja panese is back with a huge truck of brake pads. He thrusts his clipboard under Nelson's nose, yelling, "You sign! You sign!"
    Mr. Mandela is getting a bit hacked off by now, so he pushes the little Ja panese man back, shouting: "Look, go away! You've got the wrong man! I don't want them!" Then he slams the door in his face again.

    The following day, Nelson is resting, and late in the afternoon, he hears a knock on the door again. On opening it, there is the same little Ja panese thrusting a clipboard under his nose, shouting, "You sign! You sign!"
    Behind him are TWO very large trucks full of car parts. This time Nelson loses his temper completely, he picks up the little man by his shirt front and yells at him; "Look, I don't want these! Do you understand? You must have the wrong name! Who do you want to give these to?

    The little Ja panese man looks at him very puzzled, consults his clipboard and says..."You not Nissan Main Dealer?"

    October 26, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Reply
  12. bobcat2u

    I was in a Chinese restaurant the other day when I called over the waiter and said "Waiter, this omelette's rubbery"

    To which he replied "Thank you velly much."

    October 26, 2014 at 12:13 pm | Reply
    • banasy©

      D'oh!

      October 26, 2014 at 12:35 pm | Reply
      • bobcat2u

        Face palm worthy ?

        October 26, 2014 at 1:05 pm |
      • banasy©

        The Mandela one was.

        October 26, 2014 at 3:29 pm |
  13. hamsta

    Still telling jokes bobcat.

    October 26, 2014 at 12:21 pm | Reply
    • bobcat2u

      Yep !!!!!

      October 26, 2014 at 12:34 pm | Reply
  14. chri§§y

    Lol @ banasy! Nothing like stating the obvious is there? Lmao
    And ty @ bobcat! :L

    October 26, 2014 at 12:54 pm | Reply
    • bobcat2u

      What about dem Lions chrissy ? Did you that game this morning ? Down 21 at half time and came back to win.

      October 26, 2014 at 1:09 pm | Reply
  15. chri§§y

    Lol i know @ bobcat. Miracles do happen dont they! And for the last 3 wknds even! Who knew huh? Lmao

    October 26, 2014 at 1:40 pm | Reply
  16. Jeffery

    Guys I love potatoes... I mean LOVE potatoes... Help fund this for me. Or at least help me raise awareness. Go here to help: http://www.gofundme.com/hijdlg

    November 19, 2014 at 1:04 pm | Reply

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