Abstracts are in alphabetical order by presenter last name.
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alphabetical list of presenters.
5FRI : Friday, April 16, 9:30-9:50, Ferguson Theater
The South Solidifying but Receding
University of Pennsylvania
The Atlas of North American English [ANAE] defines
the South in terms of two intersecting chain shifts: the Southern
Shift, which is triggered by the glide deletion of /ay/, and the Back
Upglide Shift, which involves the development of a back upglide in
the long open o class, /oh/. The isogloss for glide deletion of /ay/
before obstruents has the widest expansion and the greatest consistency,
as well as the most profound effect upon the vowel system as a whole.
Both chain shifts have their greatest development in the sub-region
of the Inland South, centering upon Asheville, Knoxville, Chattanooga
and Birmingham, but extend throughout the Southern States, and both
show great geographic coherence in the ANAE records.
Nevertheless, the Southern chain shifts appear to be slowly receding
in apparent time, and contrast sharply with the Northern Cities Shift
and Canadian shift in this respect. Furthermore, the Southern chain
shifts are negatively correlated with city size, as opposed to the
Northern pattern. In the South, strong advances in apparent time are
found for those linguistic changes that are shared by the Southeastern
super-region, including the Midland, Charleston and Florida. This
is generally true for the fronting of the nuclei of the back upgliding
vowels, where the South follows behind the leading Midland areas.
However, those features that are specific to the South, like fronting
before laterals, are receding among younger speakers.
to top of Abstracts
Over the last several decades, linguists
and other scholars have given various names to the language used in
the African American community: "African American English,"
"Black English Vernacular," "Negro Nonstandard English,"
"Black English," "African American Language,"
"African American Vernacular English," Black Vernacular
English," etc. There are so many names. The idea is that Whatever
the name that is chosen, the variety is homogeneous because the people
are homogeneous wherever they live, wherever they are from, wherever
they have been, whatever they have seen, whoever they know, whatever
they know, whoever they are, whatever they want to be. There is also
the notion that what is spoken in the Americas and throughout the
African Diaspora is connected in such a way that it too has been given
a name: "Ebonics." Ebonics is the essence of a Mother language
that is shared by a people with a common sociohistory, a common pain,
a common spirit, a common song.
Despite this seeming harmony that is sung by those known as the Creolists,
there is a disharmonious chord sung by those known as the (Neo-)Anglicists.
(Neo-)Anglicists believe there is little for Blacks that beckons back
to Mother Africa; there is nothing they can hear across the Middle
Passage that sounds familiar enough or that they can recognize that
makes them even long for a land that surely birthed their forefathers
and foremothers. There is a song titled "My Soul Looks Back and
Wonders" and a saying "They done taken my blues and gone"
that seem so relevant. Is the latter true for these latter-day Africans
in the United States? Is there really a song they sing that linguists
currently call African American (Vernacular) English or is there even
what some scholars call Ebonics in the African Diaspora? Is there
language in the Americas that really harkens back to Mother Africa
that Africans today recognize and accept and embrace such that all
Blacks can sing in harmony? Is such really possible?
We have been told that until recently, Blacks comprised the largest
minority in the United States. As such, many businesses have catered
to Blacks to get their money. Advertising campaigns today are very
much geared to Hip Hop culture. Hip Hop is a world phenomenon. Music
is a big part of that culture. However, with the growth of the Latino
community came the Latin Grammy Awards and it is aired around the
world. Will there ever be a Black Grammy Awards for the long music
history of Blacks and its world-wide impact? There is a connection
between this question and the language (history) of Blacks I believe.
This paper explores language and identity and what it means to be
Black-not only in the United States, but also in the African Diaspora-and
the connection, or lack thereof, of Blackness in the African Diaspora.
It will also explore the existence of what sociolinguists call African
American (Vernacular) English and its place in a community and for
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11b: Saturday, April 17, 2:25-2:45, Ferguson Forum
Hispanic language use, language acquisition,
and social integration in NE Mississippi
Patricia M. Lestrade
Mississippi State University
Over the past ten years there has been a noticeable
increase in the Hispanic population of towns in NE Mississippi. Spanish-speakers
are found working in construction and agriculture in small towns throughout
the area. Paralleling early economic Hispanic immigration in the Southwest,
these newcomers face difficulties of socialization and acculturation.
This study examines the demographics of the Tupelo Hispanic population
as it relates to language use, language acquisition, and social integration.
Tupelo, with a population of 34,200, is the largest city in NE Mississippi.
According to the 2000 census, the population of Hispanics in the area
is just over 800. Local churches and the Hispanics interviewed, however,
contend that the census grossly underestimates the local Hispanic
population. If this is true, the conservative count likely indicates
very recent entry as well as fear of authority.
Spanish is the home language of the Hispanics in this study. Although
there is some networking among them, there seems to be limited contact
outside the family unit.
Those who attend local churches develop a network of acquaintances,
albeit mostly Hispanic, but few churches can provide Spanish services
that would attract continued attendance. The organization that appears
most successful in uniting the Hispanics is the locally-organized
soccer league of approximately two dozen teams.
Language difference continues to be the greatest hindrance to social
integration. To its credit, the Mississippi community has supported
Spanish language programs in the primary and secondary schools. In
addition, the free Spanish classes offered by a nearby community college
and some of the churches are well-attended and successful. This shows
an interest on the part of the English-speaking community to learn
a foreign language.
Still, there is a large language gap between the Hispanics and Mississippi
natives. Newly-arrived Hispanics, who most often speak no English,
find themselves outside the system. While the need to learn English
is obvious to the new immigrant, free English classes are usually
poorly attended. In this presentation, we will examine in detail the
disconnect between the need for training in English and the rejection
of opportunities, caused in part by cultural attitudes and differences
in level of education. Finally, we will discuss the methods used by
Hispanics to communicate and to learn English.
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Friday, April 16, 8:30-9:20, Ferguson Theater
Is “Spanglish” the Third Language
of the South?: Truth and Fantasy about U. S. Spanish
John M. Lipski
The Pennsylvania State University
Spanish is the second most frequently spoken
language of the United States, and the southern United States are
experiencing the proportionally most rapid growth of the nation’s
Spanish-speaking population. Beyond the usual bastions of south Florida,
Texas, and historically isolated enclaves in Louisiana, Spanish-English
linguistic encounters have given rise to a range of contact phenomena
often derided by non-specialists as “Spanglish” but in
reality representing the emergence of innovative Spanish dialects.
Belief in the existence of a hybrid “Spanglish” which
is neither Spanish nor English is widespread among both native and
non-native speakers of Spanish in the United States and abroad, but
there is no consensus as to the nature of this purported contact language.
In most cases the word “Spanglish” and the related connotations
of linguistic hybridity qua illegitimate birth are used to denigrate
the linguistic abilities of Hispanic speakers born or raised in the
United States. The present study traces the origin and development
of the “Spanglish” image and describes the many distinct
phenomena that this term has included. These observations are then
compared with empirical studies on U. S. Spanish—from Florida
to Texas—including the behavior of subject pronouns, verbal
tense and mood, noun-adjective concordance, syntactic calques, and
lexical neologisms. The resulting data contrast sharply with claims
of a hybrid language; emerging instead are nuanced regional varieties
of Spanish that exhibit the same range of features as in earlier contact
situations. The study concludes with an injunction against unrealistic
portrayals of language contact in the United States, whose only lasting
legacy has been the continued marginalization of Americans who speak
languages other than English—in its most standardized and prestigious
Return to top of Abstracts
10b: Saturday, April 17, 12:10-12:30, Ferguson Forum
African American Women’s Language in
the Smoky Mountains of Appalachia
North Carolina State University
University of Georgia
Descriptions of African American women’s language
within variationist sociolinguistics and discourse analysis emphasize
both the complex, dynamic nature of language use and the need to conduct
locally situated ethnographic studies in order to examine diverse
linguistic practices. Accordingly, this paper presents a study of
variation in the speech of women residents of Texana, North Carolina,
a community of 153 African Americans situated in the Great Smoky Mountain
region of Appalachia. The general picture of the linguistic behavior
of the Texana community shows that most residents accommodate their
language to the norms of the surrounding White Appalachian community
(Childs and Mallinson 2003, Mallinson and Childs 2002), while at the
same time they also maintain levels of linguistic variables traditionally
associated with African American speech. But although the community
seems to indicate some general dialect patterning, we find extensive
sub-group variation within the group of women residents – particularly
if we consider linguistic differences among women who share similar
demographic profiles yet differ strikingly in terms of social relations
and social practices.
Using data collected from a series of sociolinguistic interviews from
May 2002 to February 2003, we analyze several diagnostic sociolinguistic
variables (e.g., rhoticity, consonant cluster reduction, prevoiceless
/ai/ ungliding, 3rd sg. –s absence, copula absence, and habitual
be), acoustic vowel data, and specific lexical items, to investigate
variation in different women residents’ levels of typical African
American English and/or Appalachian English features. On first glance,
our analysis points to strong intergenerational effects, but we also
argue that community of practice (Eckert 2000; Eckert and McConnell-Ginet
1998; Meyerhoff 2002) is a significant variable outweighing traditional
demographic variables such as social status and age in an analysis
of these women’s sociolinguistic variation. As such, we explore
how local context and modes of group participation must be considered
to account for the social embeddedness of particular language varieties
in explanations for the heterogeneous and variable linguistic development
that can occur within a particular speech community. We thus conclude
that the community of practice construct provides a basis for investigating
the mutual construction of individual and community identity along
with other social variables, within the broad-based demographic category
of African American women’s speech.
Childs, Becky, and Christine Mallinson. 2003. “The
Regional Alignment of African American English in the Smoky Mountains.”
Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Dialect Society:
Eckert, Penelope. 2000. Linguistic Variation as Social Practice. Malden,
Eckert, Penelope and Sally McConnell-Ginet. 1998. “Communities
of Practice: Where Language, Gender, and Power All Live.” Pp.
484-494 in Language and Gender: A Reader, edited by Jennifer Coates.
Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Mallinson, Christine, and Becky Childs. 2002. “African American
English in Appalachia: Dialect Accommodation and Substrate Influence.”
Paper presented at the South Atlantic Modern Language Association
Conference: Baltimore, MD.
Meyerhoff, Miriam. 2002. “Communities of Practice.” Pp.
526-548 in The Handbook of Language Variation and Change, edited by
J.K. Chambers, Peter Trudgill, and Natalie Schilling-Estes. Malden,
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7aFRI : Friday, April 16, 2:50-3:30, Ferguson Theater
Recovering Alabama's Native
Jack B. Martin
College of William and Mary
Margaret McKane Mauldin
University of Oklahoma
The native literature of the American South
covers a period of almost four hundred years, from Francisco Pareja's
1612 Cathecismo in Timucua and Spanish to descriptions of Vietnam
war experiences. It covers the Muskogean languages Choctaw, Chickasaw,
Alabama, Koasati, Apalachee, Hitchiti, Mikasuki, and Creek, the southeastern
representatives of the Siouan-Catawba, Iroquoian, and Caddoan families,
and the language isolates Atakapa, Chitimacha, Natchez, Timucua, Tunica,
and Yuchi. Very little of this literature is accessible to non-specialists,
however: much of the oral literature has not been transcribed, and
what is transcribed is often not published.
This paper describes our attempts to edit and translate materials
in the Creek (Muskogee) language of eastern Oklahoma (formerly of
Alabama and Georgia). Our work so far has involved three major collections:
a) the traditional folktales of Earnest Gouge; b) the texts of Mary
R. Haas; and, c) social documents of the Creek Nation. We will describe
the first two here.
The Gouge stories were written in Creek for John Swanton in 1915.
The manuscript contains 29 stories involving trickster rabbit, giant
lizards, transformations of men into snakes, foxes, and deer, and
competitions between animals. In editing and translating the manuscript,
we hoped to reach several audiences: Gouge's grandchildren and the
67,000 members of the Creek and Seminole nations of Oklahoma; and,
academics who might wish to understand the structure of Creek. Since
the needs of these groups differ, we decided to publish in three forms:
a) in book form with side-by-side Creek and English translations;
b) through a website at http://www.wm.edu/linguistics/creek/gouge/
(for phonemic transcriptions and other technical materials); and,
c) on DVD (for sound recordings).
The second project we will discuss is our current project editing
and translating the Creek texts of Mary R. Haas, collected between
1936 and about 1941. In all, there are 22 volumes of texts and grammatical
notes. Many of the materials appear to have been written first in
Creek by native speakers and then reelicited through dictation and
written phonemically. The texts cover some of the same types of stories
found in the Gouge manuscript, but also describe specific ballgames,
speeches, clans, traditional customs, autobiography, and politics.
For this project, we have decided to publish interlinear versions
of the texts for an academic audience, in keeping with Haas's other
In order to show the steps involved, we will show images of documents
and examples of our finished work. Margaret Mauldin (Muskogee Creek)
will read from selected works and discuss the importance of the materials
Return to top of Abstracts
6bFRI : Friday, April 16, 12:35-12:55, Ferguson Forum
Mill Villagers and Farmers: Linguistic Contact in a Georgia Textile
Georgia Institute of Technology
This sociolinguistic investigation examines dialect
change in Griffin, Georgia, a textile mill town about 40 miles south
of Atlanta. Based on original fieldwork with 36 subjects, this study
records dialect variation, tracks change through apparent time, and
measures social network ties of each individual speaker. Two groups—the
founder population of farmers and the later community of mill workers—are
described as speech communities whose oppositional linguistic and
social identities center around the socioeconomic institutions of
the patriarchal textile mills and the pervasive cotton market. Drawing
both from established research which verifies diversity in early American
Englishes in the South, and from this new collection of data, I demonstrate
that generational dialect changes are attributable to shifts in socioeconomic
As agriculture waned throughout the 20th century, textile mills dominated
the economic landscape of Griffin, and contact between these once-separate
communities increased, dramatically restructuring the local linguistic
ecology. The linguistic contact equations of different Southern regions
varied due to diverse origins of speakers, migration routes, settlement
patterns and population ratios.
Analogizing from evolution theory, I describe the contact ecology
in Griffin as a pool of competing linguistic features available to
speakers for a selection process. A quantitative analysis of six phonological
features shows that older speakers align oppositionally by occupational
categories; in contrast, the contact patterns of middle age and younger
groups cause a restructuring of the available pool of linguistic features.
A quantitative analysis of six grammatical features examines influences
such as settlement patterns, salience, and indexical significance,
as well as phonetic simplicity, semantic bleaching and grammaticalization.
Finally, I critique the notion of linguistic “prestige”
and instead propose that the changing structure of social network
ties determines the routes of linguistic negotiation. The weak-tie
innovators in Griffin were the children of farmers who had contact
with the children of mill workers. Negotiating dialects as linguistic
capital, these select pioneers interacted in a newly consolidated
high school and thereby settled a perceptual frontier through friendships,
common workplaces and marriages.
Bailey, Guy. 1997. When did Southern American
English begin? Varieties of Englishes Around the World, ed. by Edgar
Schneider. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 255-275.
Bailey, Guy, Tom Wikle, Jan Tillery, and Lori Sand. 1994. The linguistic
consequences of catastrophic events: An example from the American
Southwest. NWAV23: Sociolinguistic Variation: Data, Theory, and Analysis,
ed. by J. Arnold, et al., 435-451.
Kurath, Hans. 1940. Dialect areas, settlement areas, and culture areas
in the United States. The Cultural Approach to History, edited by
Caroline F. Ware, 331-335. New York: Columbia UP.
Labov, William, and Sharon Ash. 1997. Understanding Birmingham. Language
Variety in the South Revisited, ed. by Cynthia Bernstein, et al.,
508-573. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
McDavid, Raven. 1980 . Dialect differences and social differences
in an urban society. Varieties of American English, ed. by Anwar S.
Milroy, Lesley. 1987a . Language and Social Networks. 2nd ed.
Mufwene, Salikoko. 2001. The Ecology of Language Evolution. Cambridge:
Return to top of Abstracts
11a: Saturday, April 17, 3:15-3:35, Ferguson Theater
Performing Southernness: Dialectal Representations
and Southern Linguistic Identity
Lisa Cohen Minnick
Georgia Institute of Technology
From local color literature to Gone with the Wind to
closed captioning of television programs, third-person representations
of dialectal speech have had enormous impact on the ways Southern
identity is perceived both within and outside the South. This paper
analyzes the influence of public portrayals and performances of dialect
on popular perceptions of Southern identity. Contextualized within
the Renaissance tradition of using literary dialect as an enforcer
of linguistic norms and advocate of standardization, the paper argues
that dialectal representations have persisted in those norming capacities
into the twenty-first century, with evidence focusing specifically
on the images of black and white Southerners as constructed by way
of representations of speech. The paper analyzes the effects and self-perpetuating
nature of the norming function with attention to perceptions and attitudes
about non-standard, especially Southern, speech and its speakers.
Also considered is the relationship between dialectal representations
and beliefs about what constitutes Southernness, along with analysis
of how and why dialectal speech is represented in the ways it is.
Sources of dialectal representations to discussed include American
literature from the local colorists, Southwest humorists, and writers
of the plantation tradition, to the attempts at authenticity by Realist
and Naturalist writers, Modernist experimentation, and Harlem Renaissance
reclamation. Non-literary sources emphasize popular and public portrayals
of dialect, including minstrelsy and vaudeville. Finally, the role
of mass media technologies in defining black and white linguistic
Southernness in film and television is considered, with attention
to how Southern speech is represented in scripted programming as well
as how unscripted regionally and ethnically identified speech is represented
in closed-captioned television interviews.
(Keywords: African American English, Southern White
Vernacular English language perceptions, language and media, literary
Bernstein, C.G., ed. (1994). The Text and Beyond: Essays
in Literary Linguistics. Tuscaloosa, AL: UP of Alabama.
Blank, P. (1996). Broken English: Dialects and the Politics of Language
in Renaissance Writings. New York: Routledge.
Jones, G. (1999). Strange Talk: The Politics of Dialect Literature
in Gilded Age America. Berkeley, CA: UP of California.
Minnick, L. C. and S. Tamasi. (2003). “From March Madness to
Talladega: Closed Captioning Strategies for Interviews with College
Basketball Players and NASCAR Drivers.” Unpublished paper.
North, M. (1994). The Dialect of Modernism: Race, Language, and Twentieth?Century
Literature. New York: Oxford UP.
Page, N. (1988). Speech in the English Novel. 2nd ed. Houndmills,
Preston, D. R. (1993). “Folk Dialectology.” In Preston
(ed.), American Dialect Research. Amsterdam: Benjamins. 333-378.
Preston, D. R. (1985). “The Li'l Abner Syndrome: Written Representations
of Speech.” American Speech 60:4. 328?336.
Rickford, J. R. and R. J. Rickford (2000). Spoken Soul: The Story
of Black English. New York: Wiley.
Return to top of Abstracts
Thursday, April 15, 8:30-9:20 a.m. in Ferguson Theater
The Crucial Century for English in the American South
University of South Carolina
The period between the mid-18th century and the
Civil War is crucial for understanding the development of Southern
American English (SAE) and much of its present-day diversity. During
these years English expanded rapidly from the Atlantic littoral, as
settlement and indigenous groups met and mixed, and situations of
language and dialect contact produced a linguistic landscape in many
ways similar to the one observable today. New dialects were formed,
and SAE became a distinct perceived variety by the eve of the Civil
After synopsizing major demographic shifts in the region, this paper
presents five case studies, using period documents to delineate contact
situations and linguistic patterns revealing SAE in its developmental
1) letters from Indian traders in interior
South Carolina (1740s-70s).
2) letters from African-American born in Low country South Carolina
3) a testimony from an elderly woman in coastal South Carolina (1850).
4) letters from white plantation overseers in North Carolina and
5) usage strictures in Confederate schoolbooks (1860s). Such documents
provide insights on linguistic patterns and forms of the day. They
enable us to detect the early formation of SAE and, while interesting
in themselves, give us the raw material for testing principles of
new dialect formation. They also help us better understand the larger
ecology of American English -- in short to address the question
"When did Southern English begin?"
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Friday, April 16, 5:40-6:30, Ferguson Theater
Race, Racialism, and the Study
of Language Evolution in America
Salikoko S. Mufwene
University of Chicago
Students of 'race' remain divided over the foundation
of this notion. On the one hand, biologists such as Richard Lewontin,
Steven Jay Gould, and Jared Diamond, as well as anthropologist Jonathan
Marks, among other distinguished scholars, dispute the genetic basis
of the concept, arguing that it is a social construct. On the other,
anthropologist Vincent Sarich and Psychologist J. Philippe Rushton,
among others, argue that, as small as the percentage of genes determining
racial variation may be, it is important nonetheless. This small proportion
of genes would be as significant as, if not more than, the small percentage
of genes distinguishing mankind from chimpanzees. It would not be
the number or proportion that matters but rather the impact that they
have on human behavior, which would provide the basis for classifying
humans into various categories identified as "races."
However, the social history of North America also suggests that what
was identified yesterday as race is sometimes designated today as
ethnicity. Regardless of all this confusion or uncertainty, the social
sciences and linguistics have used some social notion of 'race' to
account for language variation and language evolution. The question
is: How operational and informative has the notion been? This paper
is an assessment of some of the race-based accounts of language acquisition,
language variation, and language evolution in linguistics. Statements
such as the following stand out: 1) what particular language variety
a person speaks has nothing to do with his/her race; 2) creoles in
the New World and Indian Ocean developed in part because the enslaved
Africans were segregated from the Europeans and no longer had access
to the latter’s languages (the so-called lexifiers); 3) the
northern city vowel shift has affected only White Americans. This
discussion is an invitation to recalibrate our explanations with the
sociohistorical ecologies of language acquisition, language evolution,
and language variation in North America (and in the Caribbean).
Return to top of Abstracts
Saturday, April 17, 8:30-9:20, Ferguson Theater
American Indian Languages of the Southeast:
Among the unsung heroes of World War I are a
group of Code Talkers who helped the American Expeditionary Force
to win several battles in the Mousse-Argonne campaign by telephoning
military information in Choctaw (Choctaw Nation 2003), an American
Indian language originally spoken in Mississippi, Louisiana, and Alabama.
We know few details of these conversations. The Code Talkers must
surely have mystified their German listeners in part because of their
language's unfamiliar vocabulary and sound system. But undoubtedly
the grammatical organization of what they said – so different
from familiar European languages that speakers routinely describe
it as "backwards" – also was part of the code.
The Muskogean family of languages, which includes Choctaw (one of
the "Five Civilized Tribes" of Oklahoma, most of whose speakers
were removed from their original homelands during the 1830s), predominated
geographically in the aboriginal Southeast. Many other languages of
the region share extensive typological traits with Muskogean: they
have subject-object-verb word order, they are basically "postpositional"
(or at least non-prepositional), genitives precede possessed nouns,
and adjectives follow the nouns they modify. All Southeastern languages
exhibit complex morphology, especially on verbs (the majority would
be classed as polysynthetic), and there is widespread use of active-stative
agreement marking. Thus, although there is some variation, this Muskogean
type of language might be considered more generally a Southeastern
type, not only very different from English but rather unusual cross-linguistically.
In this talk I will present an overview of the American Indian languages
of the Southeast (Swanton 1946, Crawford 1975, Hardy and Scancarelli
in press) and a brief introduction to some features of their linguistic
structure. In addition to one complete family (Muskogean), the languages
of the region included representatives of four other language families
(Algonquian, Caddoan, Iroquoian, and Siouan) and a number of language
isolates without close relatives.
These languages have contributed considerably to Southeastern linguistic
patterns, most obviously as the source of many placenames that are
still in use. Many of the Southeastern languages are known to us now
only through earlier written or, more rarely, audio recordings. All
those that are still spoken are seriously endangered (they are losing
speakers much faster than they are gaining them). Their potential
loss is an important humanistic, cultural, and intellectual concern,
because languages reflect much of their speakers' culture and experience,
because of the importance of data from little known languages for
scholars from many fields, and because even the most obscure language
may provide important insights into cognitive function. The indigenous
languages of the Southeast are a valuable — and critically threatened
— part of Southern heritage.
Crawford, James M. 1975. Studies in Southeastern Indian
Languages. University of Georgia Press.
Hardy, Heather K., and Janine Scancarelli, eds. In Press. Native Languages
of the Southeastern United States. University of Nebraska Press.
Swanton, John R. 1946. The Indians of the Southeastern United States.
Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 137.
Choctaw Nation. Accessed 18 August 2003. http://www.choctawnation.com/content.php?
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8aFRI : Friday, April 16, 4:15-4:35, Ferguson Theater
Aggregate variation in the South in LAMSAS
University of Groningen
Summary: We use data from The Linguistic Atlas of the
Middle and South Atlantic States (LAMSAS) (Kretzschmar 1994), focusing
on the Southern states to provide a characterization of aggregate
linguistic variation in the South.
Traditional regional dialect divisions have been based
on linguists' selection of a small number of features which are each
realized differently in the same various subregions under investigation,
and the work of modern variationists has likewise restricted its attention
to a small number of features. In the hands of masters this methodology
has led to insightful characterizations of the dialect landscape.
But the methodology has resisted analytical justification in several
points: first, the choice of which features to focus on is not determined
theoretically, but only with an eye to the area to be classified;
second, every division results in exceptional data, for which no satisfactory
treament has been suggested; and third, some groups of linguistic
features delineate regions of imperfect overlap, inevitably giving
rise to so-called "transitional zones", which suggest that
exact overlap of discrete features is a pure foundation for dialect
We use data from the admirably accessible internet archive of The
Linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States (LAMSAS)
consists of 1162 interviews conducted over a period of thirty years.
We focus here on the phonetic variation in LAMSAS, in which 151 pronunciations
were elicited, and especially on pronunciations in the Southern part
in LAMSAS (Virginia and further south).
We seek solutions to the analytical problems noted above through dialectometry,
the measure of linguistic differences pioneered especially by Goebl
(1984). Following Goebl, we analyze lexical differences at a nominal
data level (see Nerbonne and Kleiweg, 2003), and extending Goebl's
methods, we measure pronunciation difference not via differences in
individual features, but rather via a measure of string distance (Nerbonne
et al. 1999). The dialectometric view solves the problems noted above
by using a fixed measure of difference and weighing all the evidence
available in the dialect atlas, including counterindicating and exceptional
data. The key step in dialectometry is from the measurement of individual
linguistic variables (the pronunciation of the diphthong /aI/ the
lexicalization of the concept 'dragonfly') to the measurement of aggregate
differences of varieties. In this dialectometry distinguishes itself
from traditional dialectology but also the mainstream in contemporary
Besides solving the analytical problems of traditional dialectology,
the dialectometric view offers new opportunities for mapping variation,
and for addressing questions such as the determinants of variation.
We illustrate these in the talk. We also note that dialectometry imposes
conditions on data that are difficult to meet. In particular we need
comparable data, which requires consistency in data collection techniques.
The level of consistency is difficult for a single field worker to
maintain, and the LAMSAS materials from South Carolina and Georgia
were collected by eight different fieldworkers, who clearly varied
in their elicitation techniques. This combination makes the LAMSAS
South a difficult target. The talk will sketch a strategy for dealing
with such differences that is very much the subject of ongoing work.
Goebl, Hans. Dialektometrische Studien: Anhand
italoromanischer, rätoromanischerund galloromanischer Sprachmaterialien
aus AIS und ALF. 3 Vol. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer, 1984.
Kretzschmar, William A. (ed.) Handbook of the Linguistic Atlas of
the Middle and South Atlantic States, Chicago: The University of Chicago
Nerbonne, John, Wilbert Heeringa, and Peter Kleiweg. Edit Distance
and Dialect Proximity. In David Sankoff and Joseph Kruskal (eds.)
Time Warps, String Edits and Macromolecules: The Theory and Practice
of Sequence Comparison, 2nd ed., Stanford: CSLI. v-xv. 1999.
Nerbonne, John and Peter Kleiweg, Lexical Variation in LAMSAS, Computers
and the Humanities 37(4). Special Issue on Computational Methods in
Dialectometry edited by John Nerbonne and William A. Kretzschmar.
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9 : Saturday, April 17, 9:55-10:15, Ferguson Theater
Register and Codeswitching in the South: Linguistic
Notions for K-12 students
Patricia Causey Nichols
San José State University
Language educators are at a crossroads. After half
a century of nearly total neglect of the English language system as
a subject of instruction in the schools (Hudson 1999), recent publications
such as Denham & Lobeck (forthcoming), Haussamen (forthcoming),
Mulder et al. (2001; 2002), and Wheeler (1999a; 1999b) reflect current
interest in this topic that is both linguistically grounded and politically
motivated (Nichols, forthcoming). Although LAVIS I (Montgomery &
Bailey, 1986) included several papers on language use of children
in the South, and LAVIS II included a couple (Bernstein, Nunnally,
& Sabino, 1997), the 2004 session on Language in the Schools for
LAVIS III reflects the increasing concern for how language is presented
as a subject of inquiry for the next generation.
Particularly in this region where minority dialects are widespread
and their speakers too often penalized for using them in the classroom,
language educators will need to work out a balanced approach that
ensures political motivations for "standards-based" instruction
will not eclipse sound linguistic principles for new curricula. The
challenge can be addressed in two stages: 1) reform of the curriculum
for university-based classes in introductory linguistics and English
language structure, and 2) development of K-12 curricular materials
that focus on discovery procedures for learning about structure and
use. The notions of register and codeswitching must be front and center
in both phases because these are the linguistic notions most accessible
to students at all levels in their everyday observation of language.
Register and codeswitching can serve as the frame for studying the
structural elements of English, including school grammar notions such
as parts of speech, complete sentences, verb tenses, and pronominal
cases -- as well as dialect pronunciations that vary by region, social
class, and ethnicity.
This paper addresses the reform of university teaching in its description
of courses on language structure developed for prospective teachers
at California and Virginia universities (Nichols, forthcoming; Wheeler,
forthcoming a & b), which focus on discovery procedures that require
students to use authentic language data from their communities. It
argues that modeling such a teaching approach in university classes
is the surest way to promote similar teaching in K-12 classrooms.
Likewise, it argues that curricular materials using authentic language
samples from a variety of dialects and social registers (spoken and
written) are the surest way to engage K-12 students in systematic
study of the English language. Using as a model the curriculum developed
jointly by school and university educators in the Australian state
of Victoria (Mulder et al., 2001; 2002), the paper calls for the development
of a coherent language curriculum for high school students in states
of the Southern U. S. - either for four years of study similar to
the Victoria materials, or as a single year-long course that satisfies
graduation requirements for the study of English.
Bernstein, C., Nunnally, T, & Sabino, R.
(Editors). 1997. Language variety in the South revisited. Tuscaloosa
and London: University of Alabama Press.
Denham, K. & Lobeck, A. (Eds.). Forthcoming. Language in the school
curriculum: What K-12 Teachers need to know. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum
Haussamen, B., with Benjamin, A, Kolln, M. & Wheeler, R. Forthcoming.
Grammar alive: A guide for teachers. Boynton/Cook.
Hudson, R. 1999. Grammar teaching is dead--NOT! In, R. S. Wheeler
(Ed.), Language alive in the classroom. Westport CT: Prager. Pp 101-112.
Mulder, J, Burridge, K., & Thomas, C. (2001). Macmillan English
Language: VCE units 1 & 2. South Yarra, Victoria, Australia: Macmillan
Mulder, J., Clyne, M., Thomas, C., Burridge, K., & and Isaac,
A. (2002). Macmillan English language: VCE units 3 & 4. South
Yarra, Victoria, Australia: Macmillan Education Australia.
Nichols, P. C. Forthcoming. Introducing linguistic concepts to high
school students. In, K. Denham and A. Lobeck (editors), Language in
the school curriculum: What K-12 teachers need to know. NJ: Lawrence
Erlbaum Associates, Publishers.
Wheeler, R. S. (Ed). (1999a). Language alive in the classroom. Westport
Wheeler, R. S. (1999b). Workings of language: From prescriptions to
perspectives. Westport CT: Praeger.
Wheeler, R. S. Forthcoming a. Codeswitching: Tools of language and
culture transform the dialectally diverse classroom. Language Arts.
Wheeler, R. S. Forthcoming b. Codeswitching and contrastive analysis:
How and why to use the vernacular to teach Standard English. In, K.
Denham and A. Lobeck (editors), Language in the school curriculum:
What K-12 teachers need to know. NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates,
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10b: Saturday, April 17, 11:45-12:05, Ferguson Forum
The Sound Symbolism of Self in Innovative Naming
Practices in an African American Community
University of Alabama
The use of innovative first names is a notable
feature of African American culture throughout the U.S. This paper
reports findings from the first phase of a two part study. We clarify
issues of linguistic and sociological interest pertaining to distinctive
naming practices among African-Americans living in Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
We consider innovativeness as related both to nonstandard phonotactics,
especially to the use of morpheme-like sequences of sound, and also
to the use of distinctive orthographic representations which are more
complex than the actual sequences of sounds they represent. Using
a list of 10 questions, we interviewed a random sample of students
from a small private college which is overwhelmingly African American
in its composition. Our interviews were tape-recorded to include students’
own pronunciations of their names. The interview format was loosely
structured to allow for extended questioning by the interviewer as
well as commentary by the students. Our study points to practices
that are guided by identifiable principles. Sound symbolism underlies
the creation of new names, which is evident in aesthetic judgments
about combinations of sounds from one or more parent, from non-English
language sources, and also from a stock of prefixal and suffixal morphemes
such as La- and Sha- and –isha, -ika, or –ita.. The validity
of these principles is attested by students’ own metapragmatic
judgments of sound sequences as indexical of a particular ethnic image.
Finally, we consider the crafting of innovative names as a sociologically
informed practice, which implicates individuals within a matrix of
expectations regarding their gender and their status with respect
to mainstream society. Past studies of innovative naming practices
in the African-American community have not systematically attempted
to elicit speaker judgments on the significance of their names. This
study probes subjects’ own evaluations about naming as a cultural
and linguistic practice by which concepts of self can be accessed.
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5FRI : Friday, April 16, 10:45-11:05, Ferguson Theater
Pastor, Pitchman, Politician: Examining Variation of Southern States English Features among
Three Georgians according to Current Theories of Language Variation
Thomas E. Nunnally
Considerable quantitative work on Southern States English
in general and the English of particular states and ethnic groups
within the South has informed the massive amount of scholarship upon
which LAVIS III is built (LAGS, LAMSAS, LAVIS I, LAVIS II, TELSUR
Project, PST, SOD, etc.). Less numerous, but still important, are
qualitative studies, such as those of Johnstone and Cukor-Avila published
in the LAVIS II volume (1997), which place the idiolectic particulars
of a speaker or small group of speakers within the larger regional
context and outlines provided by the quantitatively driven studies.
Such micro-studies are needed in that the generalizing act of compiling
statistics of variable use lessens the ability to understanding individual
variation. It is therefore necessary to look closely at a particular
speaker to understand how the generalizations about a language variety
and its variables actually play out within the web of competing forces,
language ideologies, social constraints, background experiences, and
personal attitudes that make a person’s language uniquely his
or her own. Besides micro-analysis, another important but seldom explored
research topic is the comparative evaluation of different models and
theories of linguistic behavior, a project requiring the bringing
of their various claims and insights to bear upon the same data. Note
that this endeavor differs greatly from an eclectic approach that
picks and chooses what the researcher deems useful from various hands.
Rather, the comparison of theories/models has as an important goal
the evaluation of what each can or cannot offer in regard to clarifying
the complexities of data. This study includes analyses of public speech
by three later-middle-aged White males native to Georgia in order
to study their incidence and variation of the common SSE features
monophthongized /aI/ and non-constricted post-vocalic /r/. Each subject
uses the variables, but frequency among the three varies strikingly:
one, a nationally-known politician, has largely removed the SSE variants
except in certain sentential and syllabic contexts; another, a radio
and television voice-over announcer, has obviously tried to remove
them, considering them undesirable according to his own testimony,
but has nonetheless retained them against his will, again in describable
contexts; the third, a very successful mainline minister in a large
urban church, seems to relish their use and hardly ever varies them
with standard forms. Using the subjects’ patterns of variation,
the study will bring to bear upon the data a selection of current
theories/models to investigate their explanatory power. Some of the
possible approaches to be discussed, as time permits, are Speech Accommodation
Theory (now usually Communication AT), social identity formation,
Audience Design, the Markedness Model, socially motivated sound change,
language (vernacular) maintenance, standardization ideology, quasi-standard
and regional-standard ideology, the critical period hypothesis, perceptual
dialectology, social network theory, and salience theory. This paper
will therefore provide description of idiolectal variation, as a salutary
contrast to homogenized variational studies, and explanation of it
as far as the theories surveyed allow.
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