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William Labov October 20, 2008 Yale University Yankee Cultural Imperialism and the Northern Cities Shift.

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Presentation on theme: "William Labov October 20, 2008 Yale University Yankee Cultural Imperialism and the Northern Cities Shift."— Presentation transcript:

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2 William Labov October 20, 2008 Yale University Yankee Cultural Imperialism and the Northern Cities Shift

3 The argument (1) The Northern Cities Shift is a rotation of six vowels which has radically altered the vowel systems of the Great Lakes region. The triggering event for this shift took place in western New York during the construction of the Erie Canal, when a variety of dialect differences were leveled in a general raising and fronting of short-a words. The direction of the changes that followed can be accounted for by general principles of chain shifting of vowels, as well as by the tendency to maximum dispersion in vowel sub-systems. Yet the coincidence of the Northern Cities Shift territory with the Blue States of the last two presidential elections leads us to look further into the cultural patterns of Northern settlement history.

4 The argument (2) The formative period of the sound changes coincided with the Second Great Awakening, a period of intense evangelical activity with a strong focus on the abolition of slavery. Although the cultural style of these Yankee evangelists was similar to that of the New Christian Right today, the region defined by their modern linguistic legacy is now dominated by liberal Democratic voting. The reversal of Republican and Democratic voting patterns in the North and South appears to have been motivated by the Democratic Party ’ s endorsement of civil rights legislation. If so, the same ideological opposition may be associated with the Northern Cities Shift and the sharp linguistic differentiation across the North/ Midland line.

5 The Northern Cities Shift

6 Word Phrase Sentence 1. _________ ________________ ___________________________ 2. _________ ________________ ___________________________ 3. _________ ________________ ___________________________ 4. _________ ________________ ___________________________ 5. _________ ________________ ___________________________ 6. _________ ________________ ___________________________ Project on Cross-Dialectal Comprehension: Gating Experiment

7 head desk boss busses block socks mat The Northern Cities Shift

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9 Social factors

10 A large scale phenomenon The Northern Cities Shift is found throughout the Inland North, an area of 88,000 square miles. A population of over 34,000,000 speakers of American English are participating in this shift.

11 The U.S. at night

12 U.S. at Night The Inland North Rochester Detroit Syracuse Buffalo Cleveland Chicago Milwaukee Toledo Grand Rapids Flint Joliet Kenoshat Columbus Indianapolis CIncinnati Kansas City Omaha St. Louis

13 Map Dialect regions defined by the Atlas of North American English.

14 Two questions to be resolved Matters of settlement history... (1) Why is the North/Midland line located where it is? (2) Why do the cities of the Inland North all follow the Northern Cities Shift, while dialects of Midland cities--Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Columbus, Cincinnati, Indianapolis, St. Louis -- differ considerably from each other?

15 The Inland North and the Blue States

16 Red States and Blue States in U.S Presidential election

17 States for Kerry in 2004 and dialect areas: solid line = Northern dialect region: dashed line = Inland North and Northern Cities Shift

18 Democratic vs. Republican vote for counties surveyed by dialect in presidential election of Inland North Midland New North England Kerry majority Bush majority

19 Where did the Northern Cities Shift come from?

20 Settlement patterns, , as reflected in house construction --Kniffen & Glassie Fig. 27 Midland North Upland South

21 The Erie Canal, constructed

22 The impact of the Erie Canal The impact on the rest of the State can be seen by looking at a modern map. With the exception of Binghamton and Elmira, every major city in New York falls along the trade route established by the Erie Canal, from New York City to Albany, through Schenectady, Utica and Syracuse, to Rochester and Buffalo. Nearly 80% of upstate New York's population lives within 25 miles of the Erie Canal. The Erie Canal: A Brief History No established village had ever mushroomed so rapidly [as Rochester], growing from 1507 to 9207 within a ten year span -Blake McKelvey, A Panoramic View of Rochester History. Rochester History 11:2-24.

23 The formation of a koine among settlers of western New York State

24 Nasal short-a system of Diane S., 37 [1996], Providence, RI backbag ask laugh cash

25 Short-a/broad-a system of Denise L., 21[1995], Boston MA, TS 427

26 General raising of /æ/ for Sharon K., 35 [1995], Rochester, NY, TS 359

27 The general raising of short-a as a koine formation is not a theory but a summary of the facts none of the input dialects have a general raising of short-a the general raising is consistent throughout the central and western New York State the general raising is consistent in all the speech communities created by the westward expansion from New York State

28 The westward expansion

29 The North/Midland lexical isogloss

30 Coincidence of the North/Midland lexical line and NCS isoglosses

31 hot sock talk mat handy Three stages of the NCS for Martha F., 28 [1992], Kenosha, WI TS 3

32 Yankee and Midland settlement patterns

33 Settlement patterns, , as reflected in house construction Kniffen & Glassie Fig. 27 Midland North Upland South

34 The Upland South Contiguous area in which persons of German, African, French, or Hispanic ancestry do NOT constitute majorities or pluralities, 1980 Terry G. Jordan-Bychkov, The Upland South 2003, p. 13.

35 Community movement in the migration from New England Mass migrations were indeed congenial to the Puritan tradition. Whole parishes, parson and all, had sometimes migrated from Old England. Lois Kimball Mathews mentioned 22 colonies in Illinois alone, all of which originated in New England or in New York, most of them planted between 1830 and Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, P. 14.

36 The individualism of the Upland Southerner The Upland Southerners left behind a loose social structure of rural “ neighborhoods ” based on kinship; when Upland Southerners migrated--as individuals or in individual families--the neighborhood was left behind. Tim Frazer, “ Heartland” English., ed. T. Frazer, U. of Alabama Press, p. 63.

37 Migration patterns of Yankees and Midlanders Yankee Midland/Upland South SettlementTownsIsolated clusters House locationRoadsideCreek & spring Internal migrationLowVery high David Hackett Fischer Albion's Seed: Four British Folkways in America. Oxford: Oxford University Press, p. 814.

38 Yankee and Midland cultural styles

39 “ The Yankee Confession ” Life is a struggle, a test of will. The individual, not the government or any other social unit, is responsible for his or her own well-being. Success is a measure of character. The righteous are responsible for the welfare of the community. While conversion of the sinner to the higher path was the preferable means of reform, it was sometimes necessary to use the legal authority of the state by making immoral activities illegal. --Morain, Thomas J Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth century. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press. P. 45

40 The meddling Yankee Taxed with being busybodies and meddlers, apologists own that the instinct for meddling, as divine as that of self- preservation, runs in the Yankee blood; that the typical New Englander was entirely unable, when there were wrongs to be corrected, to mind his own business. --Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, 1953, P. 6.

41 A Yankee view of the Midland In McLean County, Illinois, “the Northerner thought of the Southerner as a lean, lank, lazy creature, burrowing in a hut, and rioting in whiskey, dirt and ignorance” --History of McLean County 1879:97

42 The Yankee historian’s view Along with their crackers, their codfish, and their theology, they carried their peculiar ideas of government and managed, in spite of Kentucky statutes in Illinois, to impose their township system throughout the state... [T]hey did the same to or for Michigan, and also established the whipping post, in words taken from Vermont’s original laws. Stewart H. Holbrook The Yankee Exodus: An account of migration from New England New York : MacMillan.

43 Correcting Midland speech patterns At Greensburg in southeastern Indiana, the Reverend J. R. Wheelock advised his eastern sponsors that his wife had opened a school of 20 or 30 scholars in which she would use “ the most approved N.E. school books, ” to be obtained by a local merchant from Philadelphia. “ She makes defining a distinct branch of study and this gives her a very favorable oppy. of correcting the children & thro ’ them, the parents of ‘ a heap ’ of Kentuckyisms. ” --Richard L. Power, Planting Corn Belt Culture: The Impress of the Upland Southerner and Yankee in the old Northwest, 1953, p. 114.

44 “The language of Yankee Cultural Imperialism”...we must learn what led to the establishment of Inland Northern as a prestige dialect in the Great Lakes region; we need to understand as well why scholars like Kenyon, George Phillip Krapp and Hans Kurath... embraced the concept of Inland Northern as a General American.” Perhaps the language of “Yankee cultural imperialism” was appropriate for a century of corporate expansion, leveraged buyouts, and American military intervention in the Philippines, Central America, the Caribbean, Vietnam, and the Middle East. Tim Frazer, in “ Heartland” English., ed. T. Frazer, U. of Alabama Pres, 1993, pp. 60, 66.

45 Yankee ideology and American reform movements Imbued with the notion that their was a superior vision, Yankees dutifully accepted their responsibility for the moral and intellectual life of the nation,... with or without an invitation from the uneducated, the undisciplined, the disinterested, or the unmotivated. Cultural uplift Yankee style also meant attacking sin and sloth. The initial settlement of Iowa coincided with three very active decades for American reform movements. Health fads, prison reform, women ’ s rights, crusades for new standards of dress---the northern states teemed with advocates of one cause or another. Most important among the reform movements of the day were the issues of abolition and temperance. Morain, Thomas J Prairie Grass Roots: An Iowa Small Town in the Early Twentieth century. The Henry A. Wallace Series on Agricultural History and Rural Studies. Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press.

46 The evolution of Yankee ideology

47 Red States and Blue States in U.S Presidential election

48 Presidential elections in which the Northern States [NY, MI, WI, IA, MN] have been opposed to the Southern States [TX, AK, LA, MI, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, KY,TN, VA]

49 The role of the Northern States in the history of efforts to abolish the death penalty

50 First wave of death penalty abolition

51 First wave of death penalty abolition receding

52 1887 Re-abolition of the death penalty in Maine

53 Second wave of death penalty abolition

54 Second wave of death penalty restoration

55 Third wave of death penalty abolition

56 FURMAN v. GEORGIA 408 U.S. 238 (1972) U. S. SUPREME COURT Decided June 29, 1972 PER CURIAM The Court holds that the imposition and carrying out of the death penalty in these cases constitute cruel and unusual punishment in violation of the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments.

57 : Restoration of the death penalty after Furman 1972

58 Evangelical politics and the anti-slavery movement

59 The “ Burned-Over ” Districts of western New York Entire communities of young New Englanders... emigrated to the area of New York west of the Adirondack and Catskill mountains [arriving] in western New York, often by means of the Erie Canal... The restless settlers of the “ Burned-Over District ” readily sought release in millennial and communitarian religion. --M. Carnes & J. Garrity, Mapping America ’ s Past: A Historical Atlas. NY: Henry Holt, 1996, P. 90.

60 Slavery the central issue in the Burned-Over District Cross, Whitney R The Burned-over District: The social and intellecual history of enthusiastic religion in western New York, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. P In February 1841, [an interdenominational convention] adopted a totally ultra-ist position, condemning the Baptist Register and all others who acknowledged evil without taking action, and concluded that “the abolition cause... must prevail before the halcyon day of millenial glory can dawn upon the world.” No other section of the country would throughout the years before the Civil War prove to be so thoroughly and constantly sensitive to antislavery agitation. As the major issue of the century, furthermore, this crusade attracted more attention than others.

61 R-correlations between New England origins and county voting for abolitionist parties YearOhio Liberty Party New York Liberty Party Black Suffrage Party John L. Hammond, The Politics of Benevolence, 90-91

62 19th century pietists vs. liturgicals Liturgicals stressed the positive values of the institutionalized formalities of the old orthodoxies. Pietists were revivalists, emphasizing the experience of personal conversion, and flatly rejecting ritualism. Pietists worked for Sunday blue laws, the abolition of saloons, and before the Civil War, a check to the growth of slavery, or even its abolition. When American political parties re-formed to an opposition between Republicans and Democrats, around 1850, “the great majority of... pietists entered the Republican Party, while the great majority of liturgicals became Democrats” -- Carwardine, Richard J Evangelicals and Politics in Antebellum America New Haven: Yale University Press.p. 69.

63 The Democratic position [was designed to appeal to] lower-class rural folk, particularly but not exclusively in the rural South... who deeply resented the imperialism of the Yankee missionaries, their schemes for temperance, Sunday Schools and other reforms. --Carwardine 1993:111-12

64 The Republican position The emergence and ultimate success of the Republicans were dependent on a particular understanding of politics, one which evangelicals had played a major role in shaping. That political ethic was rooted in the... theology of the Second Great Awakening, marked by an optimistic postmillennialism and an urgent appeal to disinterested action. --Carwardine 1993: 320

65 Continuity Behind this change in regional alignments lay a striking continuity in their environing cultures. Walter Dean Burnham... found that [in the New York election returns of 1964] the counties which voted Democratic and supported civil rights were the same as those which had voted Republican and opposed slavery in the mid- nineteenth century. David Hackett Fischer 1989, p. 882

66 Presidential elections in which the Northern States [NY, MI, WI, IA, MN] have been opposed to the Southern States [TX, AK, LA, MI, AL, GA, FL, SC, NC, KY,TN, VA]

67 Political opinions ascribed to an Inland North (Detroit) and Midland (Indianapolis) speaker by students at U. of Indiana, Bloomington [N=90] No significant difference in judgments of intelligence, trustworthiness, education; Midland speaker judged more friendly (p <.00001)

68 The argument (1) The triggering event for the Northern Cities Shift took place in western New York during the construction of the Erie Canal, when a variety of dialect differences were leveled in a general tensing of short-a words. The direction of the changes that followed can be accounted for by general principles of chain shifting of vowels and the tendency to maximum dispersion of members of vowel sub-systems.

69 The argument (2) The coincidence of the Northern Cities Shift territory with the Blue States of the last two presidential elections leads us to look further into the cultural patterns of Northern settlement history. The formative period of Northern Cities Shift coincided with a period of intense evangelical activity with a strong focus on the abolition of slavery. Counties with high concentrations of Yankee settlers have shown consistent opposition to slavery and racial inequality. The reversal of Republican and Democratic voting patterns in the North and South appears to have been motivated by the promotion of civil rights legislation by the Democratic Party. If so, the same ideological opposition may be associated with the Northern Cities Shift and the sharp linguistic differentiation across the North/Midland line.

70 Ideological, political and linguistic developments, Expansion in western NY Evangelical movement Opposition to racial inequality Switch of political allegiance Raising of short-a Westward expansion Party of racial equality Blue States /Red States redefined Perfectionism 1967 Fronting of /o/ first reported 1960 Democratic 1986 Backing of / ʌ / first reported 1856 Republican No ’ n Cities Shift Yankee ideology Yankee settlement


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