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Dialects in the United States: Past, Present, and Future Wolfram & Schilling-Estes Chapter 4.

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Presentation on theme: "Dialects in the United States: Past, Present, and Future Wolfram & Schilling-Estes Chapter 4."— Presentation transcript:

1 Dialects in the United States: Past, Present, and Future Wolfram & Schilling-Estes Chapter 4

2 Key Ideas  Formation of dialects involves a complex array of historical, social, and linguistic factors  Dialects are not static, discrete entities  Dialects simultaneously reflect the past, present, and future  Boundaries persist  Dialects mark the regional and cultural cartography as well as any other cultural artifact or practice  Dialects will continue to have an emblematic role in American life

3 Schneider’s 5 Stages (2003)  Foundation Stage –Typified by colonization; not homogeneous  Exonormative Stage –Foreign dominance; expatriate norms  Nativization Stage –Differentiation of new language variety from homeland  Endonormative Stabilization Stage –Adopts own new language norms  Differentiation –Internal diversification

4 4.1 The First English(es) in America  Early Modern English had its own dialectal variation  Standardization not until mid-18 th century  Different areas of the US were settled by speakers of different British English dialects

5 4.1 The First English(es) in America  Jamestown, 1607 (Tidewater Virginia): –From the southeast of England (London area) –r-less after vowels (and before consonants in words like cart and work)—except for communities like Ocracoke that were settled by people from the southwest of England [NB: English was largely r-pronouncing “r-ful” at this time, and an authentic pronunciation of Shakespeare would sound more like current American English than current RP.]

6 4.1 The First English(es) in America (cont.)  Characteristics of settlers’ English retained in US English (but changed in RP): –Phonological: The vowel in path, dance, can’t as / æ/ [changed in RP to /ɑ/] –Semantic: mad as ‘angry;’ fall for ‘autumn’ –Syntactic:  “I haven’t gotten the mail yet.” [Brit: haven’t got]  “I don’t think I left the keys in the car, but I might have.” [Brit: but I might have done]

7 4.1 The First English(es) in America (cont.)  Massachusetts Bay Colony, 1620 (Eastern New England): settlers from southeastern England (r-less) in contrast with  Western New England: r-pronouncing: –(1) settled by r-ful speakers –(2) dialect contact and language contact (in New York and Penna. with Dutch and Germans) –(3) relative lack of contact with London

8 Place Names  Often reflect original Native American inhabitants: –Merrimac –Massachusetts –Tappahannock –Massaponex

9 4.1 The First English(es) in America (cont.)  Philadelphia, 1680: –William Penn and the Quakers from northern England (r-ful) –Welsh –Germans: “Pennsylvania Dutch” [from “Deutsch”] –Scots-Irish (1724, peak in , at time of Revolution 14% of population): strongly r-ful (descendents of Scots who emigrated to Northern Ireland at the beginning of the 17 th century for economic and political reasons) Spread into Mid-Atlantic states and the highlands of the American South (brought “you all”)

10 4.1 The First English(es) in America (cont.)  Highland South: “yeoman farming culture” of the Scots-Irish  Lowland South: plantation culture (as in lower Virginia area: Richmond) –Influence of Charleston, SC (1670): heterogeneous European, r-less, connection with West Indies –Africans through the slave trade from West Africa (pidgin, creole to AAVE/Anglicist hypothesis)

11 A Note on New Orleans:  1717: The French founded the city  1765: Acadians were deported from Canada and arrived in New Orleans [Cajuns]  Plantation culture: slave trade  Mid 1700’s: city briefly held by British and Spanish  1803: New Orleans was acquired by the US under the Louisiana Purchase

12 4.2 Earlier American English: The Colonial Period  New England Dialect Area centered in Boston: Eastern and Western New England  New York: Upstate and Metropolitan  Midland: fanning out from Philadelphia (includes “Upper South”?)  Highland (Upper) South: (Western Virginia, North Carolina, West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, Northern Arkansas, Western Oklahoma)  Lowland South: Atlantic South (Tidewater and Charleston) and Delta South (distinctive New Orleans region)

13 4.2 Earlier American English: The Colonial Period (cont.)  Influences from other languages (German, French, West African languages, Native American languages)  Contacts among speakers of different varieties of British English  Important links of eastern cities (Boston, NY, Richmond, Charleston) to London as British RP developed (r-less)  1735: complaints about American usages (“American English” appears in 1782): –Jefferson: coining new words –Franklin: advocating spelling reform –Noah Webster: dictionary, new spellings  New England and the South partners in linguistic conservatism

14 4.3 American English Extended  The northern US is largely a region of New England expansion –Inland North (entire North minus New England) –Upper Midwest –influence of immigrants (1860 census shows 30% born outside of US: Minnesota, Wisconsin, northern Michigan; highest percentage in US)  Midland expansion by settlers from Upper South, Mid- Atlantic states, and New England/NY dialect area: fanning out in the West –Hoosier Apex of Southern speech  Southern: (Old Southwest) Alabama as separate subdialectal area –AL settled later than other areas –Settlers from both Lower and Upper Southern dialect regions

15 4.3 American English Extended  19 th century immigration largely to North –Irish via New York in 1830s and 1840s –Germans in 1840s and 1860s –Italians between 1865 and 1920 –Eastern and Central European Jews between 1880 and 1910 –Scandinavians in 1870s

16 4.4 The Westward Expansion of English  California Gold Rush of 1849  Western areas: –Northwest: Washington, most of Oregon, Western Idaho (Portland as distinctive) –Southwest (influence of Spanish in lexicon)  Southern California –20 th century migration from dustbowl—”Grapes of Wrath” –Currently developing UPTALK  Texas (1836) –Southern Texas still largely Spanish-speaking –New Mexico is officially bilingual

17 4.5 The Present and Future State of American English Example of change:  Pronunciation of R in NYC: originally r-ful, then r-lessness spread from Eastern New England and was fully established in mid 1800’s, then began to recede after WWII

18 4.5 The Present and Future State of American English (cont.)  Changing patterns of immigration and language contact  Shifting patterns of population movement –SWAMPING versus FOCUSING (p. 128)  Changing cultural centers –Rural versus urban –Markers of regional speech transformed into social class, ethnicity, or urban-rural distinctions  Increasing interregional accessibility –DIALECT ENDANGERMENT

19 4.5 The Present and Future State of American English (cont.)  Labov’s findings from telephone surveys: TELSUR (p. 131) –The West has become a distinctive region –Basic dialect divisions may be intensifying  Atlas of North American English (see link on course page and in eLearning)


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