Abstracts are in alphabetical order by presenter last name.
Abstracts A-B
Abstracts C-E
Abstracts F-K
Abstracts L-N
Abstracts O-S
Abstracts T-Z

Click here to view alphabetical list of presenters.


Session 2THR: Thursday, April 15, 11:20-11:40, Ferguson Theater

A Hundred Years of Sound Change in Alabama

Crawford Feagin
Arlington, Virginia

Recorded sociolinguistic interviews with native white Alabamians from Anniston were collected between 1968 and 1973, with a built-in apparent time factor. The speakers consisted of an evenly distributed sample of older men and women born between 1882 and 1907 and teenagers born between 1953 and 1956. The speakers were evenly distributed between local upper and working classes, with a category of older rural working class speakers. In 1990, another survey of that city was undertaken using the same interview schedule, interviewer, and equipment. This time a new cohort of teenagers, both working class and upper class, was interviewed, born between 1973 and 1975. In addition, the previous "teenagers" were traced, and some re-interviewed.
The variables examined include post-vocalic tautosyllabic r (core/heart/mother) , long i (nice/might/pipe), long open o (law/caught), short a (man/bad), and on-glided u (tune/duke/ news) (Feagin 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996a, 1996b), as well as vowel shifting (Feagin 2002).
Four types of changes were observed, ranging from no change over the past 100 years, changes completed in three generations, new changes entering the community, and on-going change. These changes are distributed differently by age and social class, allowing a view of the dynamics and ordering of the changes as they go through the community and through the various linguistic environments.
What are the social and linguistic motivations for these changes--or lack of change? Local loyalty and accommodation to non-local values, intermixed with self-identification all seem to drive these opposing developments, mainly below the level of consciousness. Linguistically, the changes appear to be driven by both internal and external factors-- that is, general linguistic pressures and principles as well as contact with non-local varieties.
While the details here apply only to this data set, that is, to Anniston, similar developments and dynamics can be observed across the American South, though with different timing and perhaps different ordering (e.g., Baranowski 2000; Crane 1977; Feagin 2002; Fridland 1999, 2001; Labov et al. in press; Phillips 1981; Schoenweitz 2001; Thomas 2001; Tillery 1989).


Crane, Benjamin. 1977. The social stratification of /ai/ among white speakers in Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Papers in Language Variation, ed.by David Shores and Carole P. Hines, 189-200. Tuscaloosa. University of Alabama Press.
Baranowski, Maciej. 2000. Changes in the Vowel System of Charleston, S. C. University of Pennsylvania Master’s Thesis.
Feagin, Crawford. 1990 The Dynamics of a Sound Change in Southern States English: From R-less to R-ful in Three Generations, Development and Diversity: Linguistic Variation across Time and Space , ed. by J. Edmondson et al., 129-146. SIL /University of Texas, Arlington.
Feagin, Crawford. 1993 Low back vowels in Alabama: Yet another merger? (poster) NWAVE XXII, Ottawa
Feagin, Crawford. 1994. "Long i" as a Microcosm of Southern States Speech, NWAVE XXIII, Stanford.
Feagin, Crawford. 1996a Peaks and Glides in Southern States Short-A. Towards a Social Science of Language: Variation and Change in Language and Society ed. by Gregory Guy et al., 135-160 Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Feagin, Crawford. 1996b The Disappearance of On-glided U in Southern States English. South Atlantic American Dialect Society, Savannah.
Feagin, Crawford. 2003 Vowel Shifting in the Southern States English in the Southern United States, ed. by Stephen J. Nagle and Sara L. Sanders, 126-140. Cambridge University Press.
Fridland, Valerie. 1999. The Southern Shift in Memphis, Tennessee. Language Variation and Change 11: 267-285.
Fridland, Valerie. 2001. The social dimension of the Southern Vowel Shift: Gender, age and class. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5: 233-253.
Labov, Wiliam, Sharon Ash, Charles Boberg. In press. Atlas of North American English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Phillips, Betty S. 1981. Lexical diffusion and Southern Tune/Duke/News. American Speech 56:7 -78.
Schoenweitz, Thomas. 2001. Gender and postvocalic /r/ in the American South: A Detailed Socioregional Analysis. American Speech 76:259-285.
Thomas, Erik. R. 2001. An Acoustic Analysis of Vowel Variation in New World English. Publication of the American Dialect Society, 85.
Tillery, Jan. 1989. The merger of /)/ and /a/ in Texas: A study of sociological and linguistic constraints. Texas A & M master’s thesis.

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Session 4aTHR: Thursday, April 15, 4:15-4:35, Ferguson Theater

What we hear and what it expresses:
The perception and meaning of vowel differences among dialects

Valerie Fridland and Kathryn Bartlett
University of Nevada, Reno

The effect of vowel quality on listeners’ perceptions has received little attention though much has been made of how changes in vowel quality function as a means of symbolic identity, uniting and dividing groups of speakers. While the patterned use of linguistic variants by different groups within communities appears to suggest a paralinguistic social function, actual empirical research measuring the role of perception in assigning meaning to variation is scarce. In addition, how speakers’ own productive system affects their accuracy in perceiving and evaluating vowel differences is an area of study rarely examined, although such exploration could contribute much to our theories of speech production and perception.

Southern speech is a highly stereotyped and very salient dialect that is undergoing massive changes to the vowel system, changes that are in some cases regionally unique (as with front vowel changes), but with some, such as back vowel fronting, shared more generally across regions. Such local and national contrasts in aspects of vowel production serve as a good starting point in the examination of how distinguishing vowel changes are perceived and evaluated compared to those changes that are not inter- and intra-regionally defining. To this end, the current paper is designed to study speakers’ perceptual awareness and social evaluation of specific regional vowel variants using acoustically manipulated speech samples. While experimental in design, this study provides a unique and innovative method of measuring speakers’ sensitivity to slight changes in formant position and how such subtle phonetic changes are indeed used as socially salient categorization cues by speakers.

The results are based on 175 African-American and European-American respondents from Tennessee and 150 European-American respondents from Nevada, Utah and California who listened to a series of ‘different’ male and female guises. Each guise was a monosyllabic token with the vowel synthesized to approximate shifted positions in Southern and Northern regional shifts. Only F1 and F2 formant structure differed among guises. In a three part test, participants rated each ‘speaker’ on a semantic differential scale for four factors; degree of Southernness, degree of difference between shifted tokens of the same vowel, and levels of education and of pleasantness. Anovas and paired comparisons t-tests will be run to determine accuracy in the selection of the most “Southern” guises, whether accuracy is affected by the degree of participants’ productive participation in the various aspects of the shifts, whether the results show distinctions by participants’ region, ethnicity, gender or age, and whether different education and pleasantness scores are assigned on the basis of vowel position. The data from the Western subjects will be compared to the Southern subjects to determine how exposure to specific formant ranges of vowel variants affects respondents’ ratings and accuracy.

The research aims to contribute both to the larger question of how much fluidity speakers’ have in adjusting their perceptions based on exposure to different vowel frequency ranges and how very low-level phonetic information is used by speakers and, more narrowly, to the question of how extensively local Southern norms affect the adoption of incoming changes.


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Session 3bTHR: Thursday, April 15, 2:50-3:10, Ferguson Forum

The spread of the cot/caught merger in the speech of Memphians: An ethnolinguistic marker?

Valerie Fridland
University of Nevada, Reno

Recent research (DiPaolo 1990, 1995, Eckert 1988, Feagin 1986, 1987, 1993, Fridland 2000, 2001, Gorden 1997, Labov 1972, 1991, 1994, 1996, Labov, Ash and Boberg 1999) reveals that the Northern and Southern regions of the U.S. are distinguished by two separate and diverging shifts involving the whole vowel system and that a low-back vowel merger (the cot/caught merger) and the absence of any systemic rotation distinguishes the rest of the U.S. from the North and South. Interestingly, while the merger of the low-back vowels is widespread throughout the West, recent evidence (Feagin 1993, Labov, Ash and Boberg 1999) suggests it may be spreading into some areas of the South, a region which traditionally has maintained this distinction. Fridland (1998) noted the merger may be occurring among younger White speakers in Memphis, TN, but did not explore whether African-Americans in Memphis were showing any evidence of a Southern expansion of the merger. However, Fridland (2003) and Fridland (forthcoming) suggest that the vowel system of African-Americans and European-Americans is remarkably similar in terms of the spread of the Southern Vowel Shift and /ay/ monophthongization. Such findings would suggest that low-back vowels would show the same sort of patterning. The aim of this paper is twofold: First, the paper will examine if, in fact, the low back merger is evident in the speech of young White Memphians and, two, if the low back merger is evident in the speech of young Black Memphians. Linguistic and social conditioning of any incoming changes will be examined and compared in the two groups. Initial results suggest that African-Americans, regardless of degree of contact with the local White community, age or gender, appear to strongly maintain the distinction in the low back vowel classes. Given the similarity of the vowel system in terms of front and back vowel positioning and /ay/ monophthongization in the Memphis community, such results are surprising, particularly in light of earlier reports of the spread of the cot/caught merger into the young White Southern community. Thus, the paper will also explore the role of speakers’ orientation to the local and larger community in the spread of these features.


Dipaolo, Marianna and Alice Faber (1995) The discriminablility of nearly merged sounds. Language Variation and Change 7, New York: Cambridge University Press. 35-78.
Dipaolo, Marianna and Alice Faber (1990) Phonation differences and the phonetic content of the tense-lax contrast in Utah English. Language Variation and Change 2, New York: Cambridge University Press. 155-204.
Eckert, Penelope (1988) Adolescent social structure and the spread of linguistic change.Language Variation and Change 1, New York: Cambridge University Press. 245-208.
Feagin, Crawford (1993) Low back vowels in Alabama: Yet another merger? (poster) NWAVE XXII, Ottawa.
Feagin, Crawford (1987) A Closer Look at the Southern Drawl: Variation Taken to the Extremes. In Variation in Language, ed. K. Denning, S. Inkelas, F. McNair-Knox, and J.R. Rickford. Stanford: Department of Linguistics, 137-150.
Feagin, Crawford (1986) More Evidence for Vowel Change in the South. In Diversity and Diachrony, ed. D. Sankoff. Amsterdam & Philadelphia: John Benjamins. 83-95
Fridland, Valerie (forthcoming) Tide, tied and tight: the expansion of /ai/ monophthongization in African-American and European-American speech in Memphis, TN. Journal of Sociolinguistics.
Fridland, Valerie (2003) Network strength and the realization of the Southern Vowel Shift among African-Americans in Memphis, TN. American Speech 78-1.
Fridland, Valerie (2001) Social factors in the Southern Shift: gender, age and class. Journal of Sociolinguistics 5(2). Oxford: Blackwell. 233-53.
Fridland, Valerie (2000) The Southern Vowel Shift in Memphis, TN. Language Variation and Change 2, New York: Cambridge University Press. 267-85.
Fridland, Valerie (1998) The Southern Vowel Shift: Linguistic and Social Factors. Dissertation: Michigan State University.
Gordon, Matthew (1997) Urban Sound Change Beyond City Limits: The Spread of the Northern Cities Shift in Michigan. Dissertation: University of Michigan.
Labov, William (1996) The Organization of Dialect Diversity in North America. Paper given at the Fourth International Conference on Spoken Language Processing at Philadelpha.
Labov, William (1994) Principles of Linguistic Change: Internal Factors. Massachusetts: Blackwell.
Labov, William (1991) The three dialects of English. In New Ways of Analyzing Variation. ed. P. Eckert. New York: Academic Press. 1-44.
Labov, William, Ash, Sharon and Boberg, Charles (1999) The first continental map of North American phonology. Poster session at New Ways of Analyzing Variation 28. Toronto, CA.
Labov, William, Yeager, Malcah, & Steiner, Richard (1972) A Quantitative Study of Sound Change in Progress. Philadelphia: U.S. Regional Survey.


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Session FRI6a: Friday, April 16, 12:35-12:55, Ferguson Theater

What to leave in, what to leave out:
different concepts of ‘word’ in Choctaw and Cherokee

Marcia Haag
University of Oklahoma

Wordhood and the processes that create it are of unflagging interest to linguists, especially to Americanists, who must grapple in their research languages with formidable morphology and obscure semantic/syntactic relations. We expect words to generally consist of a lexical root that may bear a series of affixes, the whole being concatenable in a cyclic fashion, along the lines of control, controllable, uncontrollable, uncontrollably. A fundamental distinction is made between affixes that derive words, as in this example, and those that inflect for various grammatical features; in English the best examples are the past tense marker, plural marker, and singular number agreement in the third person. Because these inflectional affixes are presumed to mark functions of the syntax, there should be a sharp demarcation between the levels; this line is at the boundary of the word according to most theories of grammar.

Comparing Choctaw, a Muskogean language, and Cherokee, an Iroquoian language, to English, we will see that Choctaw basically holds to a cyclic system of root-affix, while being appreciably freer in the actual morphological form of both derivations and inflections (notably stem deformation and infixes), and using those affixes to do very different things from what English does. Beginning with a root, in Choctaw we may reliably build up from a root meaning ‘learn’ make learn, the one who makes someone learn, the thing one makes someone learn with and so forth. Cherokee, in great contrast, seems not to have cyclic affixation to roots. Instead, a series of basic lexical roots is compounded below the level of the word, frequently incorporating information such as direction, the presence of plural objects or iterated actions, the presence of actors and patients, and the shapes of instruments. Even more problematically for traditional grammar theories is the fact that clearly ‘inflectional’ affixes appear as part of the semantic content of the word apart from any actual feature in the syntax itself. For instance, in the word for ‘he/she is sneezing’ there is a ‘semantic’ plural marker, the same one that marks a direct object, signifying that the sneeze includes the presence of more than one nostril. These distinctions may point to a basic word formation parameter in the world’s languages, treating the cyclicity of word formation and permeability of lexeme boundaries.

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Session 5FRI : Friday, April 16, 10:20-10:40, Ferguson Theater

The South in DARE Revisited

Joan H. Hall
Chief Editor, DARE

Luanne von Schneidemesser
Senior Editor, DARE

It has been nearly forty years since the start of the fieldwork for the Dictionary of American Regional English and nearly twenty years since the first volume of DARE was published. During those decades major changes in our society have been accompanied by changes in our regional lexical patterns; and tremendous advances in technology have made it possible to better understand the histories and distributions of regional vocabulary. Using entries from Volume I of DARE (comprising the letters A–C), we intend to examine selected terms that showed striking regionality in the South based on the fieldwork carried out between 1965 and 1970. How have they fared? Have they become much more widely known and used? Have they maintained their regional vitality? Or have they receded to become relics?

Starting from DARE entries labeled as having concentrations in the South, we will go both backward and forward. Using such digital libraries as The Making of America and American Memory, we will try to antedate DARE’s earliest citations to get a better picture of the early history of each word; and using other resources of the World Wide Web we will try to determine the current distributions of these terms. We will also evaluate the usefulness of reviewing and revising DARE entries based on the present offerings available through the Web


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Session 9 : Saturday, April 17, 9:30-9:50, Ferguson Theater

Language Variation as an Applicable Resource in Today's Classrooms

Kirk Hazen
West Virginia University

This paper provides teachers with useful knowledge and exercises for focusing students on language variation. Language variation is a natural resource in every linguistics classroom and can be used to teach students about both language and themselves. In making the argument that language variation is not only natural, but also a beneficial teaching tool, teachers should come to understand that the language variation in their own classrooms can be used to help their students discover how language works.
Language variation examples cover several levels of social awareness and prescriptive legitimacy. Language variation patterns associated with certain nations, such as subject-verb concord differences between British English and US English, indicate that even traditional shibboleths can be widely embraced if socially supported. At the other end of the continuum, [f] pronunciations in words spelled with <th> are examined to illustrate the highly different levels of stigmatization depending on sociocultural context.

As a rhetorical method in this chapter, language variation patterns will be presented in order of stigmatization, with least stigmatized patterns coming first. The rationale for this approach is to acclimate readers to the normalcy of language variation before contrasting social judgments (i.e., variable pronunciation of in the "r" of red (bunched tongue or curled), is generally less stigmatized than pronouncing birthday with an <f> sound).

As all teachers who have dealt with sociolinguistics in a classroom can testify, truly getting students to abandon belief in a supreme correct English, and thus the consequential debasement of all language variation, is a feat that is rarely achieved. This paper aims at providing rationale and methods for potentially fundamental changes in the ways that students view language variation.

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Session 3aTHR: Thursday, April 15, 2:25-2:45, Ferguson Theater

Points, spaces, and places: Functions of gesture in North Carolina storytelling

David Herman
North Carolina State University

Using videotaped data, this paper explores how narrative analysis can benefit from study of the gestural as well as verbal productions of storytellers. Defining gesture broadly as “that range of bodily actions that are, more or less, generally regarded as part of a person’s willing expression” (Kendon 2000: 47), the paper focuses on functions of speech-accompanying gestures used in narrative discourse. More specifically, I examine ways in which storytellers use deictic gestures or “points” (Cassell and McNeill 1993; Haviland 2000; Kendon 1990; McNeill 1992, 2000) to refer to situations, objects, and incidents; these discourse referents are located in the multiple sets of spacetime coordinates underlying narrative speech events, which involve sequentially organized representations of sequences of occurrences (Chatman 1978; Herman 2002; Prince 1982). Depending on how they are embedded in a larger ecology of talk, pointing gestures may thus refer to the present time and place of the telling or to one or more time-frames being told about over the course of the narrative. My paper examines how points contribute to verbal-gestural gestalts used to manage transitions between such time-frames in narrative contexts.

Further, I align my approach with recent research on the very notion of “place” as a parameter for sociolinguistic, ethnographic, and discourse-analytic inquiry (Johnstone forthcoming). Study of storytellers’ pointing gestures reveals microinteractional processes by which communicative spaces are reconfigured as places-with-a-history, i.e. spacetime environments with which stories are more or less inextricably interlinked (cf. Johnstone 1990). Hence, to understand how narrative participants interweave words and gestures to engage in moment-by-moment constructions of place, theorists need to supplement “a conception of place as physical location with a phenomenological perspective on place” (Johnstone forthcoming)

The data-set consists of five stories told by three North Carolina storytellers, two from the western region of the state and one from Hyde County, located in the eastern coastal region. Two of the stories are told “on location,” i.e., in the locale where the events being recounted are represented as having occurred prior to the time of the current speech event. The other three stories are told “off-site”; in these cases, the narrative speech event occurs in an environment spatially as well temporally distinct from that in which the told-about incidents are represented as having occurred. I examine structural differences between these contrasting storytelling situations—for example, how they necessitate different strategies for prompting “deictic shifts” from the here and now of the current interaction to the there and then in which narrated events must be located (Herman 2001; Segal 1995; Zubin and Hewitt 1995). I also examine differences in how individual tellers exploit pointing gestures within the communicative framework afforded by these two broad types of narratives, i.e., on-location and off-site stories.

Overall my account suggests that, in narrative contexts, events recounted do not simply precede the act of telling, but are in part constructed through the sociosemiotic resources (including gestural-verbal gestalts) on which tellers and their interlocutors collaboratively draw to effectuate the narrative. In the case of narratives about events preceding the time-frame of the current interaction, understanding of the past is accomplished socially in material settings that encompass bodily movements classifiable as gestures, rather than being imparted, in the form of purely ideational content, by storytellers alone (cf. Goodwin and Goodwin 2001).


Cassell, Justine, and David McNeill. 1993. Gesture and the Poetics of Prose. Poetics Today 12.3: 375-404.
Goodwin, Marjorie Harness, and Charles Goodwin. 2001. Emotion within Situated Activity. In Alessandro Duranti (ed.) Linguistic Anthropology: A Reader, pp. 239-57. Malden, MA: Basil Blackwell.
Haviland, John. 2000. Pointing, Gesture Spaces, and Mental Maps. In David McNeill (ed.) Language and Gesture, pp. 13-46. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Herman, David. 2001. Spatial Reference in Narrative Domains. TEXT 21.4: 515-41.
Herman, David. 2002. Story Logic: Problems and Possibilities of Narrative. Lincoln: U of Nebraska P.
Johnstone, Barbara. Forthcoming. Place, Globalization, and Linguistic Variation. In Carmen Fought et al. (eds.) Methods in Sociolinguistics: Papers in Honor of Ronald Macaulay.
Johnstone, Barbara. 1990. Stories, Communities, and Place: Narratives from Middle America. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
Kendon, Adam. 1990. Conducting Interaction: Patterns of Behavior in Focused Encounters. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Kendon, Adam. 2000. Language and Gesture: Unity or Duality? In David McNeill (ed.) Language and Gesture, pp. 47-63. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
McNeill, David. 1992. Hand and Mind: What Gestures Reveal about Thought. Chicago: U of Chicago P.
McNeill, David. 2000. Introduction. In David McNeill (ed.) Language and Gesture, pp. 1-10. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
Prince, Gerald. 1982. Narratology: The Form and Functioning of Narrative. Berlin: Mouton.
Segal, Erwin M. 1995. Narrative Comprehension and the Role of Deictic Shift Theory. In Judith F. Duchan, Gail A. Bruder, and Lynne E. Hewitt (eds.) Deixis in Narrative: A Cognitive Science Perspective, pp. 3-17. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.
Zubin, David A., and Lynne E. Hewitt. 1995. The Deictic Center: A Theory of Deixis in Narrative. In Judith F. Duchan, Gail A. Bruder, and Lynne E. Hewitt (eds.) Deixis in Narrative: A Cognitive Science Perspective, pp. 129-55. Hillsdale, NJ: Erlbaum.

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Session 11b: Saturday, April 17, 2:50-3:10, Ferguson Forum

Hispanic Cultural and Language Issues in Rural Georgia Schools

Kristi Hislope and Mariana Pomphile
North Georgia College & State University

In the last five years the Hispanic population of Northeast Georgia has boomed. Language barriers and cultural issues have become a burden and serious problem for the schools in the area. As a result, communication channels between parents and teachers or administrators are negatively affected.

In this study, we describe the current situation in elementary, middle, and high schools in Dahlonega, Lumpkin County, Georgia, located approximately one hour northeast of Atlanta. Although our study describes only one county, it is reflective of problems that any educational system in a rural community will encounter when faced with such a rapid population shift. In this study, we use questionnaires as a beginning step leading to inteviews with Hispanic parents and Anglo teachers and administrators. We ask questions to determine what problems both groups are having in communication and cultural aspects and how they perceive these problems and what their roles are in working together to resolve them. To help alleviate biases, the Hispanic researcher will interview the Hispanic participants whereas the Anglo researcher will talk with the Anglo participants. Bilinguals that work as liasions between parents and teacher will also be interviewed to gain their perspective and determine their role in facilitating communication.

Our results will be used in helping the school better understand where the real need falls and to provide workshops or discussions with both groups to help improve the situation. Suggestions will discussed in our article. Ultimately we hope that our results will help us better prepare our teacher education students at the local university, help them understand the problems they will be faced with, and improve communication between teachers, administrators, and parents for the benefit of the child's education.

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Session 11b: Saturday, April 17, 3:15-3:35, Ferguson Forum

Can Southerners Learn Spanish?

Ellen Johnson
Berry College

Americans often don’t think of English speakers as being able to learn another language fluently. In a survey I conducted of businesses in a Georgia county (Whitfield) whose population is estimated to be fifty percent Hispanic, I found that most bilinguals, as expected, are native Spanish speakers rather than native English speakers. One survey respondent said that their business had thought about having employees take Spanish classes but their (Appalachian) dialect made it harder for them and so it was easier to hire Spanish speakers and teach them English! The implication here is that if working class whites can’t even speak English properly, how can they be expected to learn another language? It is certain that the Hispanic bilinguals in town don’t all speak prestigious varieties of Spanish. While this doesn’t hold them back from learning English, lower literacy rates can partly explain why they are the ones expected to learn another language.

The generally lower levels of education and income of Hispanics in the community, coupled with the legitimization of English as the language of the nation-state and the language of modernity creates a wide gap in prestige between Spanish and English in the community (May 2001). Spanish and Spanish-accented English are subordinated to Standard English (Lippi-Green 1997), perhaps even more so than the stigmatized Appalachian and African American varieties. It is not at all uncommon in language contact situations for speakers of the higher status language to refuse to learn the lower status language. On the other hand, it is common for the speakers of the lower status language to eagerly adopt the higher status language. Thus, the fact that more native speakers of Spanish have become bilingual than native speakers of English in Dalton is not surprising. Given the typical scenario for minority language communities in relation to the socially and economically more powerful group, it is rather a pleasant surprise to find so many English speakers learning Spanish there.

This paper will present evidence from two surveys on current levels of bilingualism: a survey of 100 businesses that belong to the Chamber of Commerce and a survey of 500 social service agencies in the region (Johnson and Boyle, fc). The survey results are supplemented by interviews of native English speakers who are long-term residents of the county about their experiences with and attitudes toward Spanish speakers. In a paradoxical twist, it would appear that those who profess the most positive attitude toward Spanish (the area’s elite) are actually the least likely to learn the language, while the people who have achieved a basic level of communicative competence are often those with more ambivalent attitudes. Like Americans everywhere, Southerners believe that immigrants should learn English quickly, but that learning a language other than English is far too difficult to be achieved by the ordinary person. Despite such beliefs, Southerners are indeed learning Spanish.


Johnson, Ellen, and David Boyle. under review. Learning Spanish in the North Georgia Mountains. In Language Variation and Change in the American Midland: A New Look at "Heartland" English, ed. by Thomas E. Murray and Beth Lee Simon. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.
Lippi-Green, Rosina. 1997. English with an Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.
May, Stephen. 2001. Language and Minority Rights: Ethnicity, Nationalism and the Politics of Language. New York: Longman.


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Session 3aTHR: Thursday, April 15, 3:15-3:35, Ferguson Theater

Imitating Southern Speech : Constraints and Consequences

Barbara Johnstone
Carnegie Mellon University

This paper takes a close look, from multiple perspectives, at a conversational narrative in which a Pittsburgher with a working-class Western Pennsylvania accent imitates a Southerner. I consider what constrains the performance: how the storyteller's options in the imitation are limited by popular ideas about Southernness and Southern speech, by the articulatory habits and perceptual predispositions of his native dialect, by the genre of the joke and the structure of the narrative, the participants in the interview, and the purposes of the talk. I also consider the consequences of outsider imitations like this for dialect norming and focusing in the context of heightened attention to and commodification of regional varieties.

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Session 2THR: Thursday, April 15, 12:10-12:30, Ferguson Theater

Divergent processes in Gullah/Geechee: Evidence from sound structure

Thomas B. Klein
Georgia Southern University

The state of health of the Gullah/Geechee language is a central and controversial issue in the American South. Some linguists (e.g., Jones-Jackson 1978, 1987) have argued that Gullah/Geechee shows signs of converging with vernacular English. Others have presented evidence to suggest that the linguistic structure of Gullah/Geechee is being maintained over time (e.g., Mufwene 1991, 1994, 1997). Still others have shown that Gullah/Geechee is developing new patterns that diverge from English (Hopkins 1994). Prior research on this question has focused almost exclusively on syntax, whereas the investigation of phonological structures has been neglected. The present study is designed to redress this imbalance and, hence, it presents data from phonological change to bear on the question of the development of Gullah/Geechee.

The prime sources of data for the phonological comparison are the phonetically transcribed narratives in Turner (1949) and Jones-Jackson (1978, 1987), augmented with some data from the author’s recent linguistic field research with Geechee native speakers on Sapelo Island, Georgia.

The variable absence vs. presence of word-initial unstressed syllables preceding stressed syllables in English etyma may result in ‘bout, ‘side, and ‘zamin, versus about, beside and examine, respectively, in Gullah/Geechee. Note that Vaughn-Cooke (1976, 1986) has found an increase in the presence of these syllables over three generations of AAVE speakers, showing convergence with WVE in this dimension. In this paper, the trajectory of change in Gullah/Geechee is shown to be the opposite. There are significantly more initial pre-stress syllables absent in Jones-Jackson’s later narratives (70%) than in Turner’s earlier ones (47%; p << 0.026), suggesting basilectization along the creole continuum. There is a noteworthy distinction along gender lines in Turner’s narratives. Females omit significantly more etymological syllables (56%) than males (27%) in Turner’s narratives (p << 0.0005), echoing earlier findings in Nichols (1983) and Weldon (1996) that the speech of Gullah/Geechee women tends to be more creole-like than the speech of men. However, the difference in the omission rate of men and women is not statistically significant in the Jones-Jackson narratives. It appears that the men have caught up with the women by using basilectal syllable patterns in the later narratives, whereas earlier only the women did. Nasal velarization is the production of an etymological alveolar nasal as a velar nasal next to the correlate of the diphthong /aw/, as in Gullah/Geechee [dUN] and [rUN] for down and around. This creole feature (cf. Hancock 1969) is salient in Turner’s and Jones-Jackson’s narratives and also today on Sapelo Island.

Etymological /aw/ in Turner’s narratives (e.g., [dUN] ‘down’ and [hUs] ‘house’) is becoming [] in Jones-Jackson’s narratives (e.g., [dN] ‘down’ and [hs] ‘house’). This clearly represents a qualitatively divergent change in comparison to (vernacular) English.

The data presented in this paper show not only that the distinctive phonology of Gullah/Geechee is alive and well, but that there is also a healthy divergence from English structures towards the basilectal end of the creole continuum in recent times.

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Session 7bFRI : Friday, April 16, 2:50-3:10, Ferguson Forum

Beyond Cajun: Towards an Expanded View of Regional French in Louisiana

Tom Klingler
Tulane University

Picone (2003) rightly critiques the traditional tripartite division of French-related varieties in Louisiana into Colonial French, Acadian or Cajun French, and Louisiana Creole as an oversimplification that obscures the complex mix of linguistic sources that have gone into the composition of French Louisiana. He devotes particular attention to the problematic use of the term ‘Colonial French’ in reference to the prestige variety widely used in Louisiana during the nineteenth century, after the end of the French and Spanish colonial regimes. He re-baptizes this variety ‘Plantation Society French’ in recognition of the crucial role that the wealth of Louisiana’s plantation economy played in its maintenance and spread in the state during this period. In this study I pursue the reassessment of the standard view of French in Louisiana, initiated by Picone, by questioning our understanding of another of the three traditionally recognized varieties, Cajun French. I show that the identification of this label with the ethnic group called Cajuns renders it inapt to account for the full range of speech varieties that, based purely on linguistic analysis, might logically fall within its scope: Many speakers of these varieties do not identify themselves ethnically as Cajuns, and many live in regions that did not receive Acadian settlement. I propose as an alternative the ethnically neutral term ‘Louisiana Regional French’ to encompass these varieties spoken by Cajuns and non-Cajuns alike.


Picone, Michael D. 2003. French dialects of Louisiana: A revised typology. Paper read at the Colloquium on French in the United States/Colloque sur le français aux Etats-Unis. Indiana University, April 22-24 2003.

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Pre-Conference Workshop: Wednesday, April 14, 1:00

Semiology of a Prehistoric Ceremonial Center

Vernon James Knight
University of Alabama

This pre-conference workshop will center on a tour of the prehistoric Mississippian ceremonial center of Moundville, AD 1150-1550. Moundville is famous for its large earthen mounds surrounding a plaza, and also for its representational art. Archaeologists often speak of “grammars” in the design properties of artifacts or in the features of the built environment. The usage is just a metaphor, but it does point to the structured and expressive aspects of material culture. We think that the Moundville site was originally laid out as a sociogram, in which the arrangement of earthworks and plaza space is a diagram of a social arrangement. The built-in symmetries and asymmetries of the ceremonial center have reference to a particular vision of social reality, having to do with the ranking of kin groups and the emergence of an elite class. The workshop will also delve briefly into Moundville’s iconography, with its symbol sets referencing the cosmos, the afterlife, and the “path of souls.”


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Session 8aFRI : Friday, April 16, 3:50-4:10, Ferguson Theater

Southern English by the Numbers

William A. Kretzschmar, Jr.
University of Georgia

Various quantitative techniques have been applied to the analysis of Southern English. Some are simple counts of features, others are elaborate applications of advanced statistics. Some refer to linguistic perceptions, and others to the production of linguistic features. What do these numbers tell us? Which techniques work best? In this essay I will illustrate several quantitative approaches, and discuss their relative success given the types of questions that they are supposed to be answering about Southern English.

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Session 6aFRI : Friday, April 16, 12:35-12:55, Ferguson Theater

Pat Kwachka
University of Alaska, Fairbanks

Roseanna Nickey
The Mississippi Band of Choctaw

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