Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

Radio SFWA(1) RADIO SFWA OFFICIAL VIDEO. Henry Lien has released the video of Radio SFWA as performed on stage at the Nebula Banquet in May.

Lien, who wrote the song as a recruiting anthem for the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, sang as Emperor Stardust backed by the brilliantly-choreographed Eunuchs of the Forbidden City doing SFWA spellouts and other routines. They received a well-deserved standing-O at the end.

Click CC (Closed Captioning) to view the lyrics.

Click Settings to watch it in 1080 HD.

Emperor Stardust

  • Henry Lien (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

The Eunuchs of the Forbidden City

  • Liz Argall (SFWA Member)
  • Tina Connolly (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Alyx Dellamonica (SFWA Member)
  • Patrice Fitzgerald (SFWA Member)
  • Fonda Lee (Norton Nominee, SFWA Member)
  • Reggie Lutz (Future SFWA Member)
  • Kelly Robson (Nebula Nominee, SFWA Member)

(2) MIDWESTERN MIGHTINESS. “Marvel reveals New Great Lakes Avengers Series”Nerdist has the story.

They’re not Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. They’re not even the West Coast Avengers. At one point, they received a cease-and-desist order to prevent them from using the Avengers name. But their tenacity could not be stopped and their inherent silliness endeared them to readers all around the world. And that is precisely why Marvel is announcing today, exclusively on Nerdist, that they are bringing back the Great Lakes Avengers in an all-new monthly ongoing comic book series….

Let’s begin with the obvious question: why is now the right time to revive the Great Lakes Avengers?

“Now is the time for Great Lakes Avengers to return, one, because I simply want to do it,” [editor Tom] Brevoort joked. “They need to give me perks to keep doing the comics that people like and that sell really well,” he added with a laugh.


(3) SALTIRE. At another spot on the map, BBC reports a “Scottish superhero challenge to Marvel and DC Comics”.

Glaswegian [John] Ferguson, who set up Diamondsteel Comics with his Lancashire-born wife Clare, said other elements of Scotland’s past and folklore also feature.

He said: “The Stone of Destiny, the Blue Stanes, the Loch Ness Monster and the Caledonian Fae traditions all have a significant place in the Saltire universe.

“Saltire’s origin is built from myth and legend so a comparison might be Marvel’s Thor although perhaps a bit darker and grittier. He does have an iconic visual appeal similar to the famous American superheroes.”

A year in the making, Saltire: Legend Eternal, the first comic book in a new series of the comics has been “meticulously inked, coloured and lettered” to compete with the high standards set by Marvel and DC Comics, said Ferguson.

(4) WHO NEEDS A DEGREE? Recently, David Tennant and Steven Moffat each received honorary degrees from different schools in Scotland.

Dr Who star David Tennant has travelled back in time to his old acting school to pick up an honorary degree.

The Broadchurch actor has been awarded an honorary drama doctorate from the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland.

The 46-year-old was recognised during a ceremony in Glasgow.

Tennant studied drama at the Royal Conservatoire between 1988 and 1991, then known as the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, before enjoying success on stage and screen.

He said: “I’m honoured and rather humbled to be here – it’s all quite overwhelming but lovely to be back. It evokes some very vivid memories.

“It was a very important time for me. I don’t think I would have survived without my time here – for me it was essential. Three years of getting to practice in a safe environment.

“I was quite young, quite green, and I did a lot of growing up here and learned an enormous amount. They were very formative years that I look back on very fondly.”

Dr Who writer Steven Moffat also received an honorary degree from the University of the West of Scotland in Paisley.

(5) TRUDEAU. In Yanan Wang’s story for the Washington Post, “How Canada’s prime minister became a superhero”, about Justin Trudeau’s appearance in the Marvel comic Civil War II: Choosing Sides  she explains that writer Chip Zdarsky (who writes as “Steve Murray”) put Justin Trudeau in the comic book because his father, Pierre Elliot Trudeau, made an earlier appearance with the Alpha Flight team (who are Canadian superheroes) in the 1980s.

She also unleashes this quote from Peter C. Newman, a prominent Canadian business journalist:

“If God had meant for us to be heroic, he wouldn’t have made us Canadians.  This is the only country on Earth whose citizens dream of being Clark Kent, instead of Superman.” To regard themselves as heroes would be “boastful,” Newman observed, which Canadians were decidedly not.

(6) CONTROVERSY. “In His New Novel, Ben Winters Dares to Mix Slavery and Sci-Fi”, a New York Times article, covers a lot of ground about a book whose reception is all over the spectrum.

In Ben H. Winters’s chilling new thriller, “Underground Airlines,” a bounty hunter named Victor tracks fugitives for the United States Marshals Service. But his mission, like his past, is complicated: The people he’s chasing are escaped slaves. Their main crime is rejecting a life of forced servitude. And Victor himself was once one of them.

From the moment he started writing it, Mr. Winters knew that “Underground Airlines” was creatively and professionally risky. The novel tackles the thorny subject of racial injustice in America. It takes place in a contemporary United States where the Civil War never happened, and slavery remains legal in four states, and it’s narrated by a former slave who has paid a steep moral price for his freedom.

“I had reservations every day, up to the present day, because the subject is so fraught, and rightfully so,” Mr. Winters said. “It isn’t as if this is ancient history in this country.”

Mr. Winters, 40, has pulled off high-wire acts before. As one of the early literary mash-up artists, he churned out zany best sellers like “Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters” and “Android Karenina.” His best-selling trilogy, “The Last Policeman,” is a genre-defying blend of crime writing and science fiction, starring a stoic police officer trying to solve crimes as the world braces for a catastrophic asteroid collision….

“He’s taking a direct whack at one of the main critical things that’s happening in this country right now,” said Lev Grossman, a book critic and author of the fantasy series “The Magicians.” “This is a white writer going after questions of what it’s like to be black in America. It’s a fearless thing to do.”

(7) WORLDCON IN MEMORIAM LIST. Steven H Silver announced that the deadline for getting names onto the In Memoriam list for the MidAmeriCon II program book is Friday, July 8.  Names currently under consideration can be found at http://www.midamericon2.org/home/general-information/memoriam-page/. Suggestions for additional names can be made there as well.  Any names suggested after July 8 will make it into the Hugo scroll, but not the program book.


  • July 5, 1935 — Hormel Foods introduced the canned meat product SPAM.

(9) DID YOU PAY ATTENTION? Den of Geek put the Back to the Future movies under a microscope and came up with “The Back to the Future Trilogy: 88 Things You Might Have Missed”. The most I can say is that I hadn’t missed all of them. Take number one, for example:

  1. The Doc’s clocks (I)

As the first film opens and we pan across Doc Brown’s incredible assortment of clocks – all previously synchronized to be exactly 25 minutes slow – the eagle-eyed may notice that one of the clocks features a man hanging from its hands. It’s actually silent comedy star Harold Lloyd, dangling from a clock in perhaps his most famous turn in 1923’s Safety Last. Aside from being a cool little nod to a past movie, it also prefigures the later scene in which Doc hangs from the Hill Valley clock in near-identical fashion.

(10) FUTURE WARFARE. Jeb Kinnison will be on the “Weaponized AI and Future Warfare” panel at LibertyCon, and is preparing by organizing his thoughts in a series of highly detailed blog posts.

In Part I of Weaponized AI: My Experience in AI, Kinnison shares details of his professional background in technology, which informs the rest of his discussion.

Autonomous control of deadly weaponry is controversial, though no different in principle than cruise missiles or smart bombs, which while launched at human command make decisions on-the-fly about exactly where and whether to explode. The Phalanx CIWS automated air defense system (see photo above) identifies and fires on enemy missiles automatically to defend Navy ships at a speed far beyond human abilities. Such systems are uncontroversial since no civilian human lives are likely to be at risk.

DARPA is actively researching Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems (LAWS). Such systems might be like Neal Asher’s (identity) reader guns, fixed or slow-moving sentries equipped to recognize unauthorized presences and cut them to pieces with automatic weapons fire. More mobile platforms might cruise the skies and attack any recognized enemy at will, robotically scouring terrain of enemy forces:…

Many of the readers of Mil SF have had experience in the military themselves, which makes platoon-level fighting stories especially involving for them. The interpersonal aspects are critical for emotional investment in the story — so a tale featuring a skinny, bespectacled systems operators fighting each other by running AI battle mechs from a remote location doesn’t satisfy. Space marines a la Starship Troopers are the model for much Mil SF — in these stories new technology extends and reinforces mobile infantry without greatly changing troop dynamics, leaving room for stories of individual combat, valorous rescue of fellow soldiers in trouble, spur-of-the-moment risks taken and battles won by clever tactics. Thousands of books on this model have been written, and they still sell well, even when they lack any rationale for sending valuable human beings down to fight bugs when the technology for remote or AI control appears to be present in their world.

One interesting escape route for Mil SF writers is seen in Michael Z Williamson’s A Long Time Until Now, where the surrounding frame is not space travel but time travel — a troop from today’s Afghanistan war find themselves transported back to paleolithic central Asia with other similarly-displaced military personnel from other eras and has to survive and build with limited knowledge of their environment.

(11) KRUSHING IT. At secritkrush, Chance Morrison has launched a review series about Hugo-nominated short fiction. Still looking for one that Morrison liked…

Novella it a tough length. Most of the time Novellas feel like they are either bloated short stories which could benefit from an edit or a story which really ought to be expanded into a novel to do it justice. Binti is one of the latter….

Why, given this setup, was the book not a comedy, even a dark one because I really cannot take it seriously but it is really not funny?

One day Google (the search engine) develops consciousness and decides that it doesn’t want to be evil, unlike Google the company….

Writing stories under 1000 words is exceedingly difficult. Writing one of the five best (allegedly) SF short stories of the year in less than a thousand words? Highly unlikely.

Data and River Tam/Jessica Jones together at last! They fight crime commit crimes….

(12) ON THE TRAIL. Lisa Goldstein feels a little more warmly about “’And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead’” – at least room temperature.

“And You Shall Know Her by the Trail of Dead” by Brooke Bolander is the only novelette on the Hugo ballot that was not also on the Rabid Puppies’ slate.  To get that far, against all the Puppies voting in lockstep, means that it’s probably a very popular story.  I liked it as well, but I had some reservations.  Which puts me in a minority, so you should definitely read it and make up your own mind.  Hey, I don’t claim to be infallible here.

(13) WORLDCON ANNOUNCES FILM FESTIVAL. The 2016 Worldcon will host the MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival.

The Festival will showcase the best film shorts, features and documentaries from around the world, spanning the science fiction, fantasy, horror, and comic genres. Many film makers will also be in attendance and taking part in Q&A sessions to provide a unique behind the scenes perspective on their work.

The MidAmeriCon II International Film Festival is being led by Nat Saenz, whose extensive track record in the field includes the Tri-City Independent/Fan Film Festival (www.trifi.org) as well as events at the 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 World Science Fiction Conventions. Nat continues to bring a truly global perspective to his audience, with the 2016 programme including films from Australia, New Zealand, Mexico, Russia, Germany, Spain, Greece, France, Italy, and the UK, as well as the USA and Canada.

The Film Festival will run through all five days of the convention, starting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, August 17 and concluding at 2 p.m. on Sunday, August 21.  All films are open to full and day attending convention members (subject to relevant age restrictions in line with film classifications). All screenings will take place at the Kansas City Convention Center.

A full screening schedule can be found at www.midamericon2.org/home/whats-happening/programming/film-festival/.

[Thanks to Henry Lien, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, Chip Hitchcock, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Dawn Incognito.]

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154 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 7/5/16 Scrollamagoosa

  1. microtherion:

    Of course you can compare SF & Fantasy, but I don’t think The Fifth Season is “fantasy straight-up” — to me it (like Ninefox Gambit) reads as Clarke’s-Law-SF, where the science is all Sufficiently Advanced.

    One non-spoilery reason: regardless of their causes, the various geological catastrophes in TFS all have the kind of physical effects I would expect. They aren’t *magical* catastrophes, they’re within the range of what our physical world might produce.

    I’m not at all sure that gur fgbar-crbcyr nera’g jung jr’q pnyy ebobgf, rvgure.

  2. @JJ

    there’s not much science in The Fifth Season

    Huh. I consider orogeny to be a psychic power (especially the way Jemisin describes it, that it takes years of training to master and an untrained person can do horrible damage), on a par with telepathy and telekinesis.

    Of course, that depends on your classifying psi powers under “science fiction,” but they do have a long history in the field, just like FTL.

  3. However, struggle is a necessary element of successful storytelling, which is something that every freshman in high school learns within a week of taking his or her first creative writing class.

    They learned wrong, and that’s a sad commentary on the state of American education.

    Now articles? Articles are VITAL to storytelling. Freshmen in high school definitely need to learn proper usage of articles.

  4. microtherion on July 6, 2016 at 4:32 pm said:

    @Camestros Felapton

    I don’t think it’s quite fair to compare SF and Fantasy straight up. Magic is always going to look more elegant and unassailable than science.

    I’m pretending that Stephenson and Jemisin had the same brief with a list of stuff they had to include such as ‘people surviving the end the of the world the best they can’. In which case, Jemisin going further along the fantasy axis was a better choice than Stephenson’s choice 🙂

    Also @JJ.

    To me, The Fifth Season felt more SF than F. The science wasn’t overt but then that could be said about other SF. The society in the book is one that knows about electricity and plate tectonics. The ‘magic’ is primarily super-powered individuals, which is an ambiguous subgenre (to the extent that the superhero genre happily wanders between SF & F at will or even at the same time e.g. Thor and Iron Man having a fight or Superman and Wonder Woman just hanging out).

    I think the stone eaters are the biggest fantasy element in the book. I suppose they might get a more SF-like explanation down the track (silica-based life forms?) but they have a fantasy feel to them. The other parts of the book feel more SF I suppose because I think Jemisin is trying to make it feel real and grounded*, whereas the stone eaters have a touch of faerie about them


  5. @Doctor Science

    regardless of their causes, the various geological catastrophes in TFS all have the kind of physical effects I would expect.

    I agree about the effects, but you seem to be disregarding the causes; I’m pretty sure contemporary geological journals would hesitate to publish papers that blamed earthquakes or volcanic activity on witchcraft.

    Naq GSF fubjf bebtral nf n pbatravgny cbjre, gb or pbagebyyrq naq sbphffrq ol rqhpngvba, ohg abg perngrq ol vg, fb gb zr gung pyrneyl vf “fpvrapr” bayl va gur frafr gung zvqvpuybevnaf ner.

    Fvzvyneyl, sybngvat zbabyvguf znl cnff nf FS, ohg jvgpurf uneirfgvat gurve cbjre vf snagnfl.

  6. JJ:
    apart from that, and the descriptions of the geological results of the magic,, there’s not much science in The Fifth Season.

    “Apart from the science parts, there’s not much science”. But that *is* the science-y part: the fact that what the orogenes do seems to obey laws of conservation of energy/matter, and the fact that the many & varied catastrophes, of possibly-magical cause, aren’t themselves magical.

    I’m not at all sure that it’s any less science-y than, say, the Imperial Radch series. Which would make it space opera, only with less space.

  7. I’m also on The Fifth Season being SF in the Clarkian sense. I’m looking forward to finding out.

  8. @Doctor Science

    Which would make [The Fifth Season] space opera, only with less space.

    Given the emphasis on geology, wouldn’t that make it… rock opera?

  9. Bonnie McDaniel: Of course, that depends on your classifying psi powers under “science fiction,” but they do have a long history in the field, just like FTL.

    I know that psychic powers are often considered “science fiction”, but to me they fall firmly in the realm of magic.

    Manipulating weather by magic is no more science that manipulating geological forces by magic is science. Sure, the results you observe can be described meteorologically and geologically — but you can’t write a science paper that explains how those effects are achieved. For all practical purposes, it’s done by magic.

  10. “Squirrel” and “girl” definitely rhyme. It’s not a perfect rhyme like “mold” and “fold”, and you can make them not-rhyme if you work hard enough at it, but it’s a helluva lot closer than some of the ones Ogden Nash used.

    I pronounce “tour” as “toor”, to rhyme with “poor”. It’s not a 2-syllable word at all.

    @ LunarG: My father definitely had “warsh” and “Warshington”, but he didn’t drop the r on the end of words. His dialect was from small-town Iowa in the 1920s. And he literally could not hear any difference between the way he said those words and the way I said them.

  11. I really need to read me some Skwrl Girl; I really like the stuff I’ve seen and am so, so tired of grimdark. Must check library as personal budget does not stretch to comics/graphic novels.

    I’ve pretty much decided I’m only going to consume grimdark if it’s really freaking completely amazing like “The Fifth Season”.

  12. I rhyme “Squirrel” and “Girl”, I differentiate “hire” (HYR) from “higher” (HY-yer), and I don’t put any Rs in the wash. I utterly failed to pick up any sort of New Orleans accent growing up, and I blame that on singing in choirs from too early of an age. But what I want to know is, what makes some people I’ve known do a double-take and say, “Say that again?” when I say the word water?

    (WUH-t’r, first syllable schwa-adjacent, to almost-ryhme with the “a” in “father”, “t” softened into almost “d” territory. In case you’re cyur-ee-us.)

  13. Looking back on this, I can’t quite believe how strenuous I got in my defence of Squirrel Guirrel. Sorry idontknow if I came on a bit strong. Eesh, must have been having a day.

  14. Re: Fifth Season and science
    The novel seems extremely interested in the geological processes that wrack the world. That at the very least gives a SF air to the novel, even with the fantastical nature of orogeny. The delineation of seasons, for instance, is much more of a SF system and viewpoint of classifying the geological events than anything else.

  15. @microtherion:

    Magic is always going to look more elegant and unassailable than science.

    Haven’t read much Powers, have you? Or any SF with handwavium? There are fantasies in which magic just happens, or is something superior beings do while we watch (see, e.g., Tolkien or Blish). Powers (for another example) chooses to make magic expensive and chancy. Or dig into the field’s history for Harold Shea (by de Camp and Pratt), who finds he can do magic provided he is sufficiently precise with it.

    I’d accept an argument that the two are bell curves that don’t entirely overlap — but they certainly are not discrete.

  16. For me squirrel has a schwa-vowel second syllable that girl does not have. Same with higher vs. hire. It never occurred to me that “squirrel” was difficult for non-native speakers but I can see why… In any case, it’s fair, we’re just getting back at the French for “écureuil.”

    Apparently I’ve been mispronouncing SFWA all this time. Really they should send this info with the welcome packet. How can I look like a cool kid if I’m running around telling people I’m a member of the Esseffdoubleyouay?!

  17. …but it’s a helluva lot closer than some of the ones Ogden Nash used.

    You’re probably aware of that bar’s altitude.

  18. (5) – Got to see Justin Trudeau in the deliriously-cheerful flesh on Sunday at the Toronto Pride Parade, I do adore that man and all he’s done for diversity, both regarding gender and sexuality and even race by welcoming the Syrian refugees and such. Might have a little case of hero worship going on, even. I own it! lol Bless him, though ^_^

  19. Sunhawk:

    Justin Trudeau is one of the very few cases I can think of where charisma appears to have been inherited – possibly because it comes from both sides. One thing that has REALLY started to bug me in SFF is how often charisma is shown as strongly heritable – justifying hereditary leadership – when observation shows it is NOT.

  20. @Doctor Science – Hey even if it was inheritable, I’d like to think there are other more important factors for a person’s competence and suitability to lead a nation other than how charming they are, because really it’s not a job where you can please everyone and often have to make unpopular but necessary decisions.

    I actually think JT’s charm is even greater than his dad’s, because he has that PT arrogance tempered by his mother’s gentle nature and her compassion. Like when he accidentally elbowed that MP during the weird HoC voting fracas we had weeks ago, where he dove right in to sort it out personally, that is something I could see his dad doing, but his unconditional and sincere apologies for that behavior and the accidental bumping was not something I could picture PT doing at all.

  21. @Sunhawk:
    Yeah, pretty much. I used to describe Pierre Trudeau as someone who truly did what he felt was best for Canada, rather than for himself. But he was also arrogant enough to believe that he alone knew what was best for Canada.

    Of course, Justin got to watch as his father shot himself in the foot with his own arrogance a few times.

  22. microtherion said:

    Given the emphasis on geology, wouldn’t that make it… rock opera?


    Personally, I see The Fifth Season as a Sufficiently Advanced Technology novel. I don’t see how the orogenes are supposed to be psychic; did everyone miss the mention of the extra organs they have just below their brains? I thought those were the source of their abilities.

  23. @Petrea Mitchell

    I don’t see how the orogenes are supposed to be psychic; did everyone miss the mention of the extra organs they have just below their brains? I thought those were the source of their abilities.

    Yes, but I regard most psi powers to fall into the realm of SF instead of fantasy (although they can certainly be used in fantasy universes as well), and this would be one example: the extra organ allows the orogene to tap into this power, which seems to me could be explained in an SF context as being generated by the organ itself, and/or as an outgrowth of quantum mechanics. (Catherine Asaro also wrote an alternate explanation for psychics, in her Skolian Empire series.)

  24. Hmm I have a theory re: orogenes that I’m gonna take to rot-13:

    Fb onfrq ba jung Qnznln sbhaq va gur “zvffvat ebbz” ng gur Shypehz, vg ybbxf yvxr gur boryvfxf jrer perngrq. V jbaqre vs rirel boryvfx pbagnvaf n crefba vafvqr yvxr gur bar gung Flravgr funggrerq. Vf vg cbffvoyr gung gur rkgen betna vf fbzr xvaq bs erprvire sbe n fvtany be cbjre gung gur boryvfx crbcyr ner genafzvggvat? V’z thrffvat gung gurl jrer perngrq guebhtu trargvp gvaxrevat.

    I may reread TFS sooner rather than later to see what I missed the first time through.

    ETA: OH! In Googling to confirm Damaya’s name I found a highly spoilery post on N.K. Jemisin’s site that I will pass along: http://nkjemisin.com/2015/08/tricking-readers-into-acceptance/

  25. Dawn:

    I hadn’t got that far in thinking it through, but yes.

    Gur boryvfxf jrer pyrneyl znahsnpgherq. Vg’f n tbbq thrff gung gurl nyy pbagnva “crbcyr” – naq dhvgr cbffvoyr gung gurfr crbcyr ner ebpx-rngref. Shegure, V trg n ivor gung gur ebpx-rngref znl or ebobgf, va gur frafr bs fvyvpba-onfrq NVf bevtvanyyl perngrq ol uhznaf.

  26. @Dann: Yes, there would be more heat transfer through the atmosphere. But in the situation as described, there would be enough from radiation to cause insurmountable problems. The meat in the barbecue smoker gets less heat than the meat right there on the grill, but they both get cooked; one just takes a bit longer.

  27. @Soon Lee

    Canadian comedian Craig Campbell tells a good story of a Kiwi friend coming to visit and saying “I could do with seeing a bear around about now” so took them straight off out into the country. Only later, and after a long story of woe, did he realise that what they had meant beer.

  28. Doctor Science, Doctor Science!

    Were you the one who had posted an incredibly articulate dissection of the genetic and evolutionary principles in Seveneves?

    I’ve been looking for one, that I know a Filer posted, but I can’t find it.

  29. IanP: Only later, and after a long story of woe, did he realise that what they had meant beer.

    I lived in a city in the northeastern U.S. for 4 years, and I was lucky enough to end up with a wonderful doctor there (who, it turned out, had apparently been a star figure skater in Canada in an earlier life).

    Every time in our consultations, when she said the word “aboot”, I had to stomp down on my urge to snicker.

  30. Soon Lee: You’re such a card JJ. I’ll shuffle off now.

    I’m pretty sure, at this point, that everyone else here is well aware that neither of us is playing with a full deck. 😉

  31. @JJ

    Our US based licensing team have entered my location as Edenborough, which to be fair is often how I hear them pronounce it as well.

  32. IanP, I mostly here (in the US) hear Edinburgh (Scotland) pronounced “ED’n’burrah”. What is the correct pronunciation?

  33. @Cassy B

    Aye that’s pretty much dead on, I’d tend to roll the long r and end on more of an uh rather than the softer ah. Though in some Scottish accents you’ll hear Em’brrah too.

  34. Well, most Americans (myself included) couldn’t roll an R to save their lives. <wry grin>

    (There are plenty of exceptions, but those Americans are all bilingual in a language with rolled Rs (such as Spanish)…. and I think it’s fair to say that most Americans are mono-lingual, despite one of our Presidential candidate’s hyper-focus on immigration issues.)

  35. I can roll an RR, but only if I have a proper take-off. Fortunately, those times when I conversed with a Spanish speaker who had no real English at their command, they were willing to cut me all the slack in the world, just because I was at least trying, so if I ever had to back up and make another go at the RR, they were good with it.

  36. I can flip my Rs, but simply cannot roll them. This doesn’t normally impact my life except during Rrrrrrroll Up the Rrrrrrrim to Win! time at Tim Horton’s 😉

    Oh, and @Petréa Mitchell, re: “robot” pronunciation in The Twilight Zone, (sorry I missed your question), I honestly don’t recall if anyone else said the word like “RO-but” other than Serling. I realize that I noticed it because he pronounced it like Zoidberg from Futurama, which I thought was done for humorous effect only. I didn’t realize that it was (at least at one time) a more widely-used pronunciation!

  37. Other fun Scottish place names:

    Auchenshuggle (Aw-ken-shuggle)
    Auchtermuchty (Awk-ter-muck-tey)
    Balluchullish (Ball-a-hullish)
    Calzean (Kull-ane)
    Culross (Coo-ross)
    Ecclefechen (Eck-el-feck-han)
    Kirkcudbright (Kir-coo-bray)
    Milngavie (Mill-guy)

    There is an apochryphal story of an American couple passing through Milngavie who became aware that it had a pronunciation to confuse most tourists. So they thought they’d ask a local. When having lunch they asked the waitress: “Can you tell us how you pronounce the name of this place and say it slowly so that we can pick it up”. The obliging lass said, slowly and clearly “B-u-r-g-e-r K-i-n-g”.

  38. I once read, in a book about the development of the English Language, that when the word ‘robot’ first became known to UK speakers, it was commonly pronounced either ‘ro-boh’ (because it’s foreign, and so obviously is pronounced as if French), or ‘Robert’. (That’s non-rhotic, so ‘robbut’ would capture the pronunciation better for most US speakers.)

  39. Place names in Massachusetts that tend to convince non-New Englanders we’re just doing it to torment them:


    There are others, too, both those are the three that get most non-local Americans.

    We smile about it, but we tend not to make mean jokes about how stupid they are when they’re trying to make sure they get it right.

  40. Lis Carey on July 9, 2016 at 11:45 am said
    You mean that they aren’t all two-syllable names? *g*

  41. They are; common errors include three syllables and a sound in the middle that isn’t there.

    That would be in addition to the sound at the end that isn’t there, of course, but there’s widespread suspicion that folks from outside New England can’t properly drop that sound, so it may not be fair to try to correct them on that.

  42. Soon Lee: For some of us Kiwis, ‘bear’ and ‘beer’ are homophones.

    Likewise for ‘air’ and ‘ear’ – confused by Pommy flatmates when I said I was going to an airshow.

  43. @IanP–

    Very close, much closer than many visitors get.

    You need to drop the final r — Gloss-tah — and Worcester is closer to Wuhs-tah.

    There’s a town in Ohio, called Wooster, named after Worcester–a “close but no cigar” phonetic representation. The more common versions we hear are WaR-ches-teR or WaR-sess-teR.

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