Baldamor or Bawlmor: Say What?

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UMBC recently posted a short series of podcasts exploring Baltimorese — or, in other words, a free linguistics lesson that explores the relationship between language, identity, and culture by parsing the oddness that is the Baltimore accent.

I found the mini-class through a quick search on iTunes U, a compendium of the increasing bulk of educational content available online, mostly for free. You can find classes on the Civil War, death, cocktail mixology, and, well, the Baltimore accent. These free online classes are becoming hugely popular worldwide, so much so that a fall 2011 class on artificial intelligence hosted by Stanford has more than 62,000 online students enrolled. That’s crazy, especially when you consider that Stanford’s non-virtual student body is only about 15,000.

While most free online classes consist of not much more than audiotaped or filmed lectures, Stanford (and others) are starting to take things to the next level. The AI class, for example, will feature interactive quizzes and virtual office hours; students will be able to see their class rank, and will receive a “statement of accomplishment” upon completing the course. The UMBC podcast was constructed specifically with an online audience in mind — they make complex ideas accessible to an online audience.

Check out podcasts by the UMBC grad students here. You just might learn something!
“‘Welcome to Baltimore, Hon!’ Exploring Hon as a Linguistic and Identity Marker in Baltimore,” which examines the changing nature of the word “hon” in Baltimore culture.

“‘Baldamor, Curry, and Dug’: Language Variation, Culture, and Identity among African American Baltimoreans,” which unpacks some of the unique pronunciations heard in African American communities.

“Multilingualism and Ethnicity in Baltimore, Maryland,” which takes listeners into Baltimore’s multilingual communities to learn about language contact and language choice.

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