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 2bTHR: Thursday, April 15, 12:10-12:30, Ferguson Forum

Using the Federal Writers' Project Materials for the
Documentation of Language in Louisiana

Michael D. Picone
University of Alabama

From 1936 until 1941 (but mostly in 1940-1941), the Louisiana contingent of the Federal Writers' Project (also known as the Louisiana Writers' Project), mostly working under the direction of Lyle Saxon (1891-1946), recorded life narratives, stories, and lists of expressions taken from interviews with ex-slaves, other African Americans, Cajuns, Creoles of Color, White Creoles, New Orleanians and other Louisianians. These documents informed, and were sometimes excerpted by, Gumbo Ya-Ya: Folk Tales of Louisiana (1945). The ex-slave narratives did not appear in print until 1990 (Mother Wit, R.W. Clayton). Many documents in the collection, which is housed at the Cammie G. Henry Research Center, at the Watson Memorial Library, Northwestern State University of Louisiana, in Natchitoches, remain unpublished.

In this presentation, I will briefly recount some of the circumstance surrounding the creation of this collection and the tardiness of the appearance in print of the ex-slave narratives. My main focus, however, will be an attempt to determine the value of this documentation for the purpose of reconstructing linguistic features of an earlier era (for English, French and creole), which has obvious value as a benchmark for contemporary variation. Much depends on the accuracy of the original record of the interviews conducted (assuming the original stage can be successfully identified), especially since, as it will be shown, subsequent revisions and the published versions have often included a significant amount of editing. Criteria for and against the likeliness that the original interviewers were able to accurately capture and faithfully record the speech habits of their interviewees will be considered (e.g., some clues in favor of accuracy: orthographic variations to capture dialect in spite of directives from FWP Folklore Editor Botkin to minimize this kind of representation; run-on and fragmentary sentences; irregular spellings in French were less likely to conform to a preconceived, stereotyped literary eye-dialect than they might have for English, though prior representation of creole probably had a role to play; frequent misspelling by some interviewers inadvertently reveal to what extent they were recording by ear). The relevance of these observations to the Rawick series of ex-slave narratives (The American Slave: A Composite Autobiography, 1971-1979) will be alluded to.

Some highlights of the presentation include examples of earlier French-English code-switching practices among Cajuns and excerpts from an unpublished ex-slave narrative.

In the last analysis, these materials are probably most reliable when it comes to gleaning attestations of vocabulary items from an earlier era: for example Cajun French chantailler 'to hum', which is in perfect keeping with the high productivity of the –ailler derivational suffix but does not figure in any extant dictionary or published word list of Cajun French or creole, nor in the extensive LADICO database, housed at Indiana University. Examples such as this are not only historical curiosities, but have potential value with regard to lexical enrichment of Louisiana French as part of an on-going initiative of language revitalization.

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Session 1THR: Thursday, April 15, 10:20-10:40, Ferguson Theater

New Light on the Expatriate Southern Community in Brazil

Shana Poplack
University of Ottawa

William Labov
University of Pennsylvania
Maciej Baranowski
University of Pennsylvania
LAVIS 1THR, Earlier Englishes of the South, Ferguson Theater, Thursday, 10:20

At the end of the American Civil war, many families of Confederate veterans emigrated to Brazil, and approximately 100,000 of their descendants remained in that country. The English language is still retained, especially among older speakers. Montgomery and Melo 1990 studied speech recorded on a television program on the Confederados. They were able to identify a number of current Southern features retained in the dialect, and inferred that other features not present represented innovations in Southern English after the Civil War period.
In 2003 Poplack and D. Sankoff interviewed in person a family-based network of descendants located within a several hundred mile radius of Americana. The data include 10 hours of informal conversations with six second-generation Brazilians; Portuguese was the first language for all of them, but they were able to speak only English to the interviewers, with varying degrees of fluency.

Acoustic analysis of the new interviews indicates that for some speakers, the monophthongization of /ay/ is stronger than what Montgomery and Melo found, re-opening the question as to whether this sound change was active in the mid-19th century. No sign of the second and third stages of the Southern Shift were found, but this may have been masked by Portuguese influence in the realization of /ey/ and /iy/ with tense nuclei.
Fronting of /uw/ and /u/ is at an early stage in these speakers, and there is no indication of fronting of /ow/.
All speakers but one have retained the distinction between back mid-vowels before /r/ as in four vs. for. A remarkable retention of the palatal upglide is found for one speaker in the realization of mid-central vowels and also with low front /æ/. As a whole, the speech of these Confederados confirms indications that the characteristic conservative features of Southern speech were well entrenched in the middle of the 19th century.


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Session 4aTHR: Thursday, April 15, 3:50-4:10, Ferguson Theater

That's What I Like about the South

Dennis R. Preston
Michigan State University

In several studies, I have shown that US attitudes towards Southern US English (SUSE) move back and forth along the two principal dimensions of language attitude study in general - regard for 1) the standard language of overt prestige and 2) the pleasant language of covert prestige. Northern respondents (e.g., from Michigan) find their own language correct and SUSE incorrect, but they are less certain of their own variety's pleasantness and seem aware of some greater pleasantness for SUSE. Southern respondents (e.g., from Alabama) are more ambivalent about correctness everywhere, but they are absolutely certain (as certain as Northerners are about local correctness) of their own variety's pleasantness.

More recent research seeks further information about the position of SUSE in the public mind, mouth, and ear across several dimensions:1) What specific linguistic features are perceived as belonging to SUSE, and what sort of use do nonlinguists make of each in recognizing, evaluating, and caricaturing (including imitating) SUSE? 2) What folk theory (or theories) of language lie behind attitudes towards SUSE? Is there any evidence that such theories are changing in light of some apparent amelioration of the negative attitudes towards SUSE?

I will report on several sociophonetic experiments and analyses with regard to the questions in 1) and on the analysis of discoursal evidence with regard to the questions asked in 2). As I reported in LAVIS II, I believe the South is still a "touchstone" for US dialect recognition and regard; it is always there first in the minds of nonlinguists, but that its overwhelming presence and importance is purely a reflection of the well-known US doctrine of language correctness is perhaps these days not as clear as it might have seemed at the time of LAVIS II.

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Session 12a: Saturday, April 17, 4:40-5:00, Ferguson Theater

Kinship Talk and the Construction of Identity in the Upper South

Anita Puckett
Virginia Tech

The resurgence of heritage organizations and ethnic groups in the Upper South has made even more salient the importance of kinship and genealogy in constructing each group’s sense of identity than pre-Internet modes of researching and transmitting family trees permitted. In face-to-face social interaction by group members, kinship and genealogical discursive practices still constitute core verbal resources for reproducing, transforming, and maintaining group cohesion and boundaries. Yet these discursive practices exhibit patterned grammatical, phonological, and contextual variation internally in intragroup usages and externally in cross-group comparison. This presentation examines the semantic, metalingual, pragmatic, and metapragmatic significations of these variations from the perspective of how they construct group-internal identity and group-external empowerment or disempowerment, especially as they relate to racial privilege and access to political economic resources. Data from southwest Virginia, east Tennessee, and southeastern Kentucky were collected ethnographically over seven years using ethnography of discourse techniques consistent with linguistic anthropological methods. Ethnohistorical materials from late 18th and early to mid 19th centuries personal and public documents as well as contemporary listserv and website texts were also sampled for comparative purposes. Subjects studied include self-identifying Scotch-Irish, Melungeon, Monacan, and African American members. Analysis first describes discursive features defining various forms of kin or genealogical “talk.” It then focuses on semantic and pragmatic meanings of attributive possessive constructions such as “my cousin,” “my great-grandfather’s land,” or “his Melungeon ancestors” as textualized, entextualized, retextualized, and contextualized in various forms of “kin talk.” These constructions merge interlocutors with non-present (often deceased) kin and with non-kin entities into a single grammatical construction that merges interacting “selves” deictically indexed by the possessive nouns or pronouns with the entities referenced by the possessed nouns or embedded possessors. These relations in turn deictically index the immediate discursive text in which the construction appears, other non-present but metapragmatically-linked discursive practices common to the group’s verbal repertoire, and the participant framework in which the utterance occurs. The emergent complex of significations constructed by the patterning of these usages constitutes “stored” value (Graeber 2001:78) in the ethnonym designating the heritage or ethnic group, creating political-economic (de)value for those having rights or authority to use this name. The presentation concludes by arguing that these relationships yield linguistically-based insights into how ideologies of racial language are constituted in Southern American English varieties.


Graeber, David. 2001. Toward an Anthropological Theory of Value: The False Coin of Our Own Dreams. New York: Palgrave.

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Session 6aFRI : Friday, April 16, 111:45-12:05, Ferguson Theater

The Ofo Language of Louisiana: Philological Recovery of Grammar and Typology

Robert L Rankin
University of Kansas

In 1908, while working with the Tunica Indian tribe near Marksville, LA, the noted Smithsonian ethnographer, John R. Swanton, encountered a single individual who could recall material in the Ofo language. Ofo was thought to be a Muskogean dialect because of the existence of the consonant f in the one word of it Swanton had learned from the Tunica chief. Upon eliciting a vocabulary of around six hundred words from the single speaker, Swanton was surprised to discover that Ofo was a Siouan language related to Dakota, Mandan, Crow and other well-known languages of the plains as well as to the Biloxi language of Mississippi and the Tutelo language of Virginia (Swanton 1909). Swanton thus “obtained the only specimens of the language in existence” from Rosa Pierrette, “the sole Indian acquainted with the Ofo language.” This vocabulary was published in Dorsey and Swanton (1912).

Apart from a few papers on Ofo phonology, little has been written about the language since 1912. A closer look at Swanton’s vocabulary, however, reveals that many of the words he recorded have inflected forms or occur in short phrasal constructions. Applying the techniques of philology to these data, it is possible to recover quite a lot of Ofo morphology and syntax in at least some detail, enabling the linguist who is conversant with the structures of related Siouan languages to characterize Ofo typologically and compare it with its sisters.

The author, writing from the perspective of three decades of field and analytical work with related Siouan languages, undertakes to survey Ofo treatment of a number of morphosyntactic features including noun possession classes, deixis, pronominals and pronoun roles, verb conjugation classes, person, number, aspect and mood inflection, locatives and instrumentals, dative, reflexive and reciprocal, causatives, active-stative case alignment, motion verbs, question formation, and basic word order. The available 600 word vocabulary provides useful information on all of these features: using the techniques of comparative linguistics and philology, a great deal more can be said about Ofo, thanks to Swanton’s original, careful work.
Dorsey, J. Owen, and John R. Swanton. 1912. A Dictionary of the Biloxi and Ofo Languages. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 47. Washington, D. C.: Government Printing Office; also the computer file of the published Ofo dictionary distributed by the Siouan Archive at the University of Colorado.
Swanton, John R. 1909. A New Siouan Dialect. Putnam Anniversary Volume: Anthropological Essays Presented to Frederic Ward Putnam in Honor of His Seventieth Birthday, pp. 477?86. New York: G. E. Stechert.

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Session 8bFRI : Friday, April 16, 5:05-5:25, Ferguson Forum

Early African American English and Pidgin/Creole Englishes:
Evidence from copula contraction and absence and plural marking

John Rickford
Stanford University

Debate about the possible Anglicist/Creolist origins of African American Vernacular English [AAVE] has been invigorated in recent years by data from "Early African American English" [EAAE] as analyzed by Shana Poplack, Sali Tagliamonte and students at the University of Ottawa (cf. Poplack 2000). Their EAAE data include the Ex-Slave Narrative Recordings made in the 1930s and 1940s with former slaves from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana, Maryland, and Texas, as well as recordings with the putative descendants of African Americans who emigrated in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries to Samaná (Dominican Republic) and Nova Scotia (Canada). On the basis of extensive quantitative analysis, Poplack and her collaborators conclude that AAVE's features come entirely from earlier varieties of English, with zero or minimal influence from African or creole varieties.
In this paper, I will challenge this conclusion, concentrating on two of the variables for which comparable quantitative data exist from pidgin and creole communities--copula contraction and absence and zero plural marking. (Of the nine variables examined in Poplack 2000 and Poplack and Tagliamonte 2001, comparable data exist for only three variables, past tense marking being the third.) In the case of the copula, the following grammatical effect is more robust in the Caribbean Creoles and AAVE than Walker (2000) claims, and the putative prosodic effect in relation to which the following grammatical constraint is said to be epiphenomenal is evanescent. In the case of zero plural marking, which I examine with the help of new data from Guyana and Jamaica in addition to the data from Gullah, Nigeria and Liberia introduced by Poplack et al (2000), the situation is both more complex and more interesting than these authors suggest. Their contention that the EAAE varieties pattern one way and the pidgin-creole varieties another is not supported when we look at the effect of preceding and following phonological segments, especially when the roles of a following pause and preceding nonsibilant consonants are considered. The grammatical/semantic constraints (animacy of the noun and type of nominal reference) do provide more promising support for Poplack et al's claim, but even here there are qualifications and complications that warrant further research. Finally, for neither of the EAAE variables does English provide clear models, so attributing their development to English alone is plainly premature.
Poplack, Shana, ed. 2000. The English history of African American English. Oxford: Blackwell.
Poplack, Shana, and Sali Tagliamonte. 2001. African American English in the diaspora. Oxford: Blackwell.
Poplack, Shana, Sali Tagliamonte, and Ejike Eze. 2000. Reconstructing the source of Early African American English plural marking: A comparative study of English and Creole. In Poplack, ed., 73-105.
Walker, James A. 2000. Rephrasing the copula: Contraction and zero in Early African American English. In Poplack, ed., 35-72.

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Session 4bTHR: Thursday, April 15, 5:05-5:25, Ferguson Forum

“Kaba” in Papiamentu:
Aspect in a Romance-based Creole and Parallel Structures in English-based Afro-American Varieties

Yolanda Rivera Castillo
University of Puerto Rico - Rio Piedras

Studies about the origin of Caribbean Creoles and Afro-American varieties of Indo-European languages have dealt extensively with verbal systems. For example, some propose that adverbials and auxiliaries that indicate completive versus non-completive aspect in AAVE constitute a reinterpretation of lexemes from different dialects of English (Labov 1998). There are similar analyses of aspectual markers in English-based Creoles. However, there are semantic, categorial, and syntactic similarities between “done” and “kaba” in Papiamentu, a Romance-based Creole. Similarities between these lexemes include the following:

(1) When the verb is in the past tense, these lexemes function as adverbs (already) referring to a previous time [Munteanu (1996: 464) for Papiamentu; and Labov (1998) for AAVE):
Papiamentu: Anto b’a kome kaba?
‘Did you eat (already)?’
AAVE: I done told you on that.

(2) These can be main verbs, equivalent to “finish” [Papiamentu from recordings in Aruba, 2000; and AAVE from Labov (1998) on Dayton (1984)]:
Papiamentu: (Fiesta)... kaba un or (Aruba, 2000)
‘(The party) finishes within an hour’
AAVE: The readin' of the announcements, all that's gonna be done done.

(3) These are auxiliaries that indicate telicity or a bound interval of time (these even co-occur with an adverb meaning “already, like “ya” in Papiamentu) [Goilo (1953) for Papiamentu; and Labov (1998) for AAVE)
Papiamentu: Ya cu bo a bini kaba, mi ta yudabo[...]
‘Given that you arrived, I can help you...’
AAVE: I done told you already.

“Kaba” shares core grammar and semantic similarities with “done” in AAVE, “don” in JC, and “don” in Guyanese. It is interesting that Sranan (English-based) has “kba” and “kaba,” adverbs and auxiliaries with perfective meanings. Given that Papiamentu is not English-based, I believe these parallelisms can be attributed to similar convergence of elements from Indo-European languages and West African languages rather than only to lexical borrowing (Rickford, 1998). I propose that: (a) the semantic categories associated with telicity are universal, and therefore cannot be attributed to a particular language; (b) the lexemes “done” and “kaba” originated in Indo-European languages, and their syntactic distribution and categories are in part connected to their origin; (c) innovations in the categorial status of these lexemes, the reinterpretation of these as aspectual markers, and the emergence of their prefix variants resulted from contact with West African languages.
This paper compares “kaba” and “done” in different contexts and with similar forms in some Caribbean Creoles. It also explores the representation of these categories in languages like in Igbo and Yoruba (Comrie, 1976: 82), in which tense is rarely marked, but aspectual distinctions are. Finally, it explores possible explanations for these similarities and their implications for theories of language and dialect genesis.


Comrie, B. 1976. Aspect. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Goilo, E. R. 1953. Gramatica Papiamentu. Curaçao: Hollandsche Boekhandel.
Labov, W. 1998. Coexistent Systems in African-American English. In S. S. Mufwene, J. R. Rickford, G. Bailey, and J. Baugh, The Structure of African-American English (pps. 110-153). London: Routledge.
Muntenau, D. 1996. El papiamento, lengua criolla hispánica. Madrid: Editorial Gredos.
Rickford, J. R. 1998.The Creole Origins of African American Vernacular English: Evidence from copula absence. In S. S. Mufwene, J. R. Rickford, G. Bailey, and J. Baugh (Eds.), African-American English. London: Routledge.

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Session 8aFRI : Friday, April 16, 5:05-5:25, Ferguson Theater

Considering the Geographical Delineation of Cajun English

David M. Rojas
Indiana University

String edit distance refers to a metric based on the number of insertions, deletions, and substitutions required to convert one string into another. The idea of using string edit distance to determine the degree of similarity of two or more linguistic varieties dates from at least as early as the 1970s (Séguy, 1971). Taking into account either phone sequences or the phonological features of phone sequences, the techniques have been applied to lexical data from a range of varieties, including Irish dialects (Kessler, 1995) and Dutch dialects (Nerbonne et al., 1996), and the methodology of dialectometry—or quantifying the similarity among dialects—has since been extensively refined (e.g. Nerbonne et al., 1999; Nerbonne and Heeringa, 2001). Recently, the procedure has also been carried out on lexical data from the Linguistic Atlas of Middle and South Atlantic States (LAMSAS) (Kleiweg and Nerbonne, 2001). The approach consists of calculating the string edit distances between pairs of phonetically transcribed lexical items as typically found in linguistic atlases, then populating a square matrix with the distances derived from all pair-wise dialect item comparisons for all of localities being considered. The distance matrix is subsequently subjected to evaluations via clustering algorithms and visualization tools as well as to comparisons with traditional accounts by dialectologists and sociolinguists.
In any recent description of language varieties in the U.S. South, Cajun English (CE) is likely to be mentioned. The variety of English known as CE has often been associated with Cajun French (CF) in that features representative of the English variety have been seen as reflexes of interference from the French. Nevertheless, the phenomenon cannot be considered a simple case of second language interference, since most present speakers of CE do not speak CF at all. Responding to the call for further publicly accessible research on CE using previously collected materials (Eble, 2003), the focus of the current paper is not to directly trace the possible origins of CE, or even examine the features that characterize it, but rather to test hypotheses regarding the extent to which the area where CE is spoken coincides with the borders of cultural, political, or linguistic Acadiana.
Using data from the Dictionary of American Regional English (DARE) and from the Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States (LAGS), localities will be clustered as described above. Though running sequence comparisons on lexical item transcriptions may alone be insufficient to fully distinguish a CE area from a non-CE area, the readily available and as yet untapped material provides a unique resource awaiting combination with an approach that has been successfully employed in categorizing other dialects. The analyses are expected to yield a distinct and coherent region that differs significantly from its neighboring varieties. The interesting research question, however, is to what extent this region corresponds to the historically French speaking region. If it is smaller, the reason may be related to leveling pressures that have whittled the peripheries of the area. If, on the other hand, the distinctive region is larger than Acadiana proper, then an argument could be made supporting the socio-economic importance of the linguistic reinforcement of Cajun cultural identity in the ongoing Cajun Renaissance of southern Louisiana.


DARE. Dictionary of American Regional English. (1985– ). Vol. 1 (A-C), Cassidy, Frederic G. (ed.). Vols. 2 (D-H) and 3 (I-O), ed. Cassidy, Frederic G., and Joan Houston Hall (eds.). 3 vols. to date. Cambridge: Belknap Press of Harvard UP.
Eble, Connie. (2003). The Englishes of southern Louisiana. In Nagle, Stephen J., and Sara L. Sanders (eds.), English in the Southern United States. Cambridge: Cambridge UP.
An Index by region, usage, and etymology to the Dictionary of American Regional English, Volumes I and II. (1993). Publication of the American Dialect Society. No. 77. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P.
LAGS. Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States. (1986–92). Pederson, Lee (ed.). 7 vols. Athens: U of Georgia P.
Kessler, Brett. (1995). Computational dialectology in Irish Gaelic. In Proceedings of the European Association for Computational Linguistics. 60–67.
Kleiweg, Peter, and John Nerbonne. (2001). Analysis and visualisation of LAMSAS dialects. Manuscript, November 2000–August 2001. http://odur.let.rug.nl/~kleiweg/indexr.html
Nerbonne, John, and Wilbert Heeringa. (2001). Computational comparison and classification of dialects. Dialectologia et Geolinguistica, 9:69–83.
Nerbonne, John, Wilbert Heeringa, Eric van den Hout, Peter van de Kooi, Simone Otten, and Willem van de Vis. (1996). Phonetic Distance between Dutch Dialects. In Proceedings of the Sixth Computational Linguistics in the Netherlands (CLIN) Meeting. 185–202.
Nerbonne, John, Wilbert Heeringa, and Peter Kleiweg. (1999). Edit distance and dialect proximity. In Sankoff, David, and Joseph Kruskal (eds.), Time Warps, String Edits and Macromolecules: The Theory and Practice of Sequence Comparison. Stanford: CSLI. v–xv.
Séguy, Jean. (1971). La relation entre la distance spatiale et la distance lexicale. Revue de Linguistique Romane 35:335–357.

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Session 7bFRI : Friday, April 16, 2:00-2:20, Ferguson Forum

On the demise of the Acadian-style first person plural in Louisiana French

Kevin J. Rottet
Indiana University

A well-known grammatical feature associated with the Acadian French dialects of the Canadian Maritime provinces is the use of the pronoun je as a first person plural (1pl) pronoun, along with overtly 1pl verb forms. This is illustrated below with an example from Maillet (1990: 80):

(1) Par chance qu’y a eu la guerre! Quoi c’est que j’arions fait, nous autres, sans ça? [...] Parce que si j’avions pas pu nous rendre jusqu’à la guerre et que j’avions corvé en chemin, pas parsoune s’en arait aparçu.
“A good thing there was the war! What would we have done without that? [...] Because if we hadn’t been able to get to the war and we had died on the road, no one would have noticed.”

The je...-ons pattern is recessive in most modern Acadian dialects, where it has gradually been displaced by the pronoun on plus a 3sg verb (e.g. on parle, on a, on est, cf. Flikeid and Péronnet 1989). The latter is the predominant pattern in the vernacular speech of much of the French-speaking world today including both France and Quebec.
The je ...-ons pattern is completely absent from contemporary dialects of French in Louisiana, which is part of the Acadian diaspora, although it is clear from historical texts that the pattern was still found in Louisiana in the late nineteenth century (Fortier 1891, Ditchy 1932 [1901], Houssaye 1983 [1888]) and even, apparently, as recently as the 1930s (Hurst 1937, Pellerin 1937). Interestingly, though, attestations of the pattern from Louisiana depart from the reported Acadian norm in several ways. First, some occurrences of it are manifestly not first person plural, but rather first person singular. For example:

(2) « M’sié l’curé, j’savons signer mon nom: vous m’avez montré... » (Houssaye 1983: 65)

(3) ‘Pour moi, j’y consens,’ répondit la mère, ‘et j’sommes sûre que l’voisin y pensera comme moi.’ (Houssaye 1983: 31)

(4) Ah! qu’alle bosse / J’m’sommes donné / Hier à la noce à Zoséphine. (“Ah, what a feast I had last night at Josephine’s wedding.”)
(Whitfield 1939: 123)

A second anomaly is that the verb inflection -ons associated with this form (and with the 3pl -ont in traditional Acadian verb morphology) is attested in various other persons:

(5) Et qu’est-ce que vous croyons que j’avions vu tomber? (Griolet 1986: 232)

In this paper I will examine the small but fascinating corpus of attestations of the je...-ons pattern attested in Louisiana, of interest because of the light they may shed on the last days of this Acadian pattern in Louisiana before it was finally replaced by the colloquial standard on-zero pattern. The Louisiana data such as those cited in (1) through (3) also invite a revisiting of the claim (e.g. Hull 1988, Deloffre 1961) that attestations of the je...-ons pattern as a first person singular are inauthentic samples of the relevant dialects.


Fortier, Alcée. 1891. The Acadians of Louisiana and their dialect. P.M.L.A. 6:1-33.
Griolet, Patrick. 1986a. Cadjins et Créoles en Louisiane: Histoire et survivance d'une francophonie. Paris: Payot.
Houssaye, Sidonie de la. 1983. Pouponne et Balthasar. Lafayette: The Center for Louisiana Studies. [First edition 1888].
Hull, Alexander. 1988. “The first person plural form: je parlons.” The French Review 62: 242-247.
Hurst, Harry. 1937. A glossary of the French spoken in St. Charles Parish. Master's Thesis, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge.
Pellerin, Eveline. 1937. La Langue française en Louisiane. Master's Thesis, McGill University.
Whitfield, Irene. 1939. Louisiana Folk Songs. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press.


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Session 8bFRI : Friday, April 16, 3:50-4:10, Ferguson Forum

Pre-Columbian Links to the Caribbean: Evidence Connecting Cusabo to Taino

Blair A. Rudes
University of North Carolina at Charlotte

It has also long been recognized that the inhabitants of some of the villages on the coastal plain between the Santee and Savannah rivers spoke a distinct language or languages. Swanton (1922:18-19, 21) collectively referred to the language(s) as Cusabo. Based on an analysis of statements made by Europeans at Charleston and Santa Helena, Swanton concluded that Cusabo was a Muskogean language. However, more recent analysis of the same statements has shown that Swanton’s interpretation was incorrect (Waddell [forthcoming]). Furthermore, an analysis of the linguistic data available for Cusabo, consisting principally of around fifty place names, reveals no forms that can be connected with any Muskogean language. On the other hand, a comparison of the Cusabo data with data from Taino and other indigenous languages of the Caribbean reveals a number of striking similarities. Specifically, Cusabo appears to share with Caribbean languages a locative suffix (Cusabo <-bo(u)>, as seen in such pairs as <Cussah> : <Cusabo>, <Westo> : <Westoe bou> [Waddell 1980]; Central American Island Carib /-bu/ ‘at’ [Taylor 1977:58]), and a pluralizing suffix (Cusabo <-no>, seen in the Etiwan self-designation <Ypaguano> ‘sea-people’ [see Taino <bagua> ‘sea’ (Taylor 1977:20)]; Taino <-no>, seen in the name Taino itself [Taylor 1977:19]). In addition, Cusabo appears to share patterns for forming names of communities with Caribbean langauges as illustrated by the use of the pluralizing suffix in <Taino> and <Ypaguano> and by the use of a cognate word for ‘island’ as in Cusabo <Cayagua> (modern Kiawah) ‘palmetto island’ and the Cayman Islands.
The evidence form place names also suggest that Cusabo shared a number of cognate lexical items with Caribbean languages, as well as distinctive phonological traits such as the presence of a high, central unrounded vowel. A relationship between Cusabo and Caribbean languages is also suggested by the presence in the neighboring Catawban languages of lexical items and morphological features that appear to have been borrowed from Taino or some other Caribbean language. While the Cusabo data are too limited for definitive conclusions, they do to show more similarity with Taino and other Caribbean languages than with any known language on the North American mainland.


Swanton, John R. 1922. Early History of the Creek Indians and Their Neighbors. Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 73. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
Taylor, Douglas. 1977. Languages of the West Indies. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins University Press.
Waddell, Gene. 1980. Indians of the South Carolina Lowcountry 1562-1751. Columbia: University of South Carolina, Southern Studies Program.
Waddell, Gene. Forthcoming. Cofitachequi: A Distinctive Culture, Its Identity, and Its Location. Ethnohistory. (Manuscript in Waddell’s and author’s possession.)

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Session 4bTHR: Thursday, April 15, 4:40-5:00, Ferguson Forum

A Quantitative Study of Plural Marking in Three Non-Urban African American Language Varieties

Robin Sabino, Mary Stephens Diamond, and Anna Oggs
Auburn University

Even after decades of research, the history and structure of varieties of English spoken by members of the African Diaspora remains in dispute. Recent quantitative studies of plural marking in the noun phrase, have interpreted evidence as indicating a fundamentally English history and structure (Poplack, Taglimonte, and Eze, 2001) and as reflecting a fundamentally Caribbean creole language pattern (Sabino, Diamond, and Cockcroft, 2003). The long standing nature of this debate can be attributed, in part, to the morpho-phonology of English which allows the phonological reduction and deletion of morphological elements. However, lack of agreement also reflects different assumptions about the grammatical systems themselves. For example, in the utterance That boy sick today do we have a zero copula or is sick a verb? In the utterance Oh Lord! Dog in the garden again, what does the surface form dog represent? Is it a singular noun, a noun unspecified for number, a noun specified as plural with simplification of the [gz] cluster, or, if spoken by an individual from a community that uses {-dem} as a plural marker, the repression of a stigmatized form.

Assuming a fundamental grammatical unity across yet-to-be-standardized African American language varieties, this paper contributes to the ongoing debate by comparing the results of examinations of noun-phrase plural marking in corpora gathered in three non-urban African American communities. We address the first difficulty, that of the morpho-phonology of English plural marking, by first analyzing a Negerhollands corpus since the plural morpheme in this variety is not subject phonological deletion. We address the second challenge by analyzing the Negerhollands data twice, first using an Indo European analytic frame similar to that of Poplack, Taglimonte, and Eze (2000) which assumes all nouns are marked as singular or plural, and then using a non Indo European analytic frame which assumed three alternatives: singular, plural, or unspecified for number (cite references in paper). The results of the analyses of the Negerhollands data are used to inform similar parallel analyses of African American English data collected in South Alabama and the Bahamas. Preliminary evidence suggests that the Caribbean creole language pattern persists in all three varieties.

Poplack, S., Taglimonte, S. and Eze, E. (2000) Reconstructing the source of Early African American plural marking: A comparative study of English and creole. In S. Poplack (ed), The English History of African American English, Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers Inc., 73-105.
Sabino, R., Diamond, M., and Cockroft, L. (2003) Language variety in the Virgin
Islands: Plural marking. In M. Aceto and J.P. Williams (eds), Contact Englishes
of the Eastern Caribbean, Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing
Company, 81-94.

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Session 12a: Saturday, April 17, 3:50-4:10, Ferguson Theater

Blurring ethnolinguistic boundaries: The use of ‘others’’ varieties in the sociolinguistic interview

Natalie Schilling-Estes
Georgetown University

For decades, one of the most pressing questions for dialectologists and variationist sociolinguists has been the relation, both current and historic, between African American and White language varieties in the U.S., especially in the American South, where much of the early development of African American Vernacular English took place (e.g. Schneider 1996, Wolfram and Schilling-Estes 1998). Concurrently, there has been much discussion, in fields such as anthropology, cultural studies, and social psychology, of whether it is possible, accurate, or desirable to study different ethnic (and other social) groups and their language varieties as isolable, clearly bounded, and relatively homogeneous entities, especially in recent decades, as the world’s peoples come into increasing contact with one another (e.g. Clifford 1998; Coupland 2001a, 2001b; Eckert 2000:23, 34; Giddens 1991; Mühlhäusler 1989; Wolf 1997: 3-23). However, the latter line of inquiry has had little impact of the former (cf. Montgomery 2000), and many variationists and dialectologists continue to anchor their investigations of language and ethnicity on ethnic division as an unquestioned ‘given’. Only in investigations of ‘crossing’—that is, the use of language varieties other than one’s ‘own’—has their been extensive research involving the combined insights of quantitative investigations into ethnic group-based language variation and more qualitatively oriented inquiries into the very nature of group and individual identity (e.g. Rampton 1995, 1999). In the present study, I extend the investigation of the question of ‘ownership’ of ethnic varieties by looking at the use of ‘others’’ language varieties in one of the key sources of data for variationists, the sociolinguistic interview. The interviews examined are drawn from a large-scale study of Robeson County, North Carolina, which is home to African Americans, Whites, and Lumbee Native Americans; and each interview involves participants of different ethnic backgrounds. I use both quantitative and qualitative (chiefly discourse analytic) methodologies. In addition, I move beyond traditional variationist methodologies by considering the linguistic usages of not only research subjects (interviewees) but also researchers (interviewers), as well as how co-participants in the interviews shape each others’ speech. The analysis demonstrates that indeed ethnic varieties—and ethnic identities themselves—are not neatly bounded, monolithic entities but rather that different people—and peoples—freely adopt and adapt linguistic and cultural resources from one another, both at the local level, in unfolding interaction, and on a more global level, in shaping and reshaping group varieties over time and across space. Hence, in investigating ethnicity-based variation, including relations among different ethnic varieties, it is important that researchers expand the focus of their inquiries to encompass not only established ethnic varieties (as defined by aggregate usage levels for particular features by people associated with different ethnic groups) but also individual linguistic usages in interaction, including those which cut across dialect and language barriers as traditionally conceived (cf. Romaine 1989, LePage 1992).


Clifford, James. 1998. The predicament of culture: Twentieth-century ethnography, literature, and art. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.
Coupland, Nikolas. 2001a. Dialect stylization in radio talk. Language in Society 30: 345-375.
Coupland, Nikolas. 2001b. Language, situation, and the relational self: Theorising dialect-style in sociolinguistics. Style and Variation, ed. by Penelope Eckert and John R. Rickford, 185-210. Cambridge/New York: Cambridge University Press.
Eckert, Penelope. 2000. Linguistic variation as social practice. Malden/Oxford: Blackwell.
Giddens, Anthony. 1991. Modernity and self-identity: Self and society in the Late Modern Age. Cambridge: Polity (in association with Basil Blackwell).
LePage, Robert. 1992. ‘You can never tell where a word comes from’: Language contact in a diffuse setting. Language contact: Theoretical and empirical studies, ed. by Ernst Håkon Jahr, 71-101.
Montgomery, Michael. 2000. Isolation as a linguistic construct. Southern Journal of Linguistics 24: 41-53.
Mühlhäusler, Peter. 1989. On the causes of accelerated linguistic change in the Pacific area. Language change: Contributions to the study of its causes (Trends in Linguistics: Studies and Monographs 43), ed. by Leiv Egil Breivik and Ernst Håkon Jahr, 137-172. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Rampton, Ben. 1995. Crossing: Language and ethnicity among adolescents. London/New York: Longman.
Rampton, Ben (ed.) 1999. Journal of Sociolinguistics (Special issue: Styling the other). 3/4.
Romaine, Suzanne. 1989. Bilingualism. Oxford: Blackwell.
Schneider, Edgar W. 1996. Introduction: Research trends in the study of American English. Focus on the USA, ed. by Edgar W. Schneider, 1-12. Philadelphia/Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Wolf, Erik. 1997. Europe and the people without history. Berkeley: University of California Press.
Wolfram, Walt, and Natalie Schilling-Estes. 1998. American English: Dialects and variation. Malden/Oxford: Blackwell.


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Session 1THR: Thursday, April 15, 9:30-9:50 a.m.,Ferguson Theater

Earlier Southern Englishes in Black and White: Corpus-based approaches

Edgar W. Schneider
University of Regensburg

Recent years have seen an increasing body of research based on textual documentation of earlier varieties of Southern English, and more research along these lines is required to inform our understanding of the emergence of the dialect (Montgomery fc.; Schneider 2003), still a controversial issue (Bailey 1997). At the same time, Corpus Linguistics, the systematic compilation and investigation of large electronic text corpora by means of concordancing and analysis software, has established itself as a recognized sub-discipline of linguistics (Biber, Conrad & Reppen 1998; Meyer 2003), a field suitable in particular for diachronic investigations, given that historical data, unlike present-day usage, have come down to us as a finite set of written documents which lend themselves easily to computerization and the study of language variation and change (Schneider 2002).
In this paper, the SPOC and BLUR, two electronic text collections of varieties of earlier Southern Englishes as used by white and black speakers, respectively, are discussed and compared, and sample analyses are provided. The Southern Plantation Overseers Corpus (SPOC) is a collection of about 540 overseers letters written between 1794 and 1876 (Schneider & Montgomery 2001). The BLUR (Blues Lyrics Collected at the University of Regensburg) Corpus consists of some 1.6 million words of blues lyrics, from the early phase of blues recordings, accompanied by a database that makes the texts accessible by singers, states, and recording years (Miethaner 2003).
Both corpora are briefly presented and discussed in terms of their characteristics and size. Most importantly, the ease of accessibility of electronic texts should not lure us into an uncritical acceptance of the findings, so some emphasis will be given to the limitations of interpretability that results from the nature of the texts in the corpora. Subsequently, a few sample data and analyses from the corpora will be presented. These analyses will provide a glimpse into select aspects of the syntax (clause structure patterns, including relativization and left dislocation) and morphology (verb forms) of earlier Southern Englishes in Black and White.


Bailey, Guy. 1997. "When did Southern English begin?" In Edgar W. Schneider, ed. Englishes Around the World. Vol. 1: General Studies, British Isles, North America. Amsterdam, Philadelphia: Benjamins, 255-275.
Biber, Douglas, Susan Conrad & Randi Reppen. 1998. Corpus Linguistics. Investigating Language Structure and Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Meyer, Charles F. 2002. English Corpus Linguistics. An Introduction. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Miethaner, Ulrich. 2003. The BLUR (Blues Lyrics Collected at the University of Regensburg) Corpus: Compilation and Analysis. Unpubl. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Regensburg.
Montgomery, Michael B. fc. "Needed Research in the history of American English." In Needed Research in American Dialects. (PADS)
Schneider, Edgar W. 2002. "Investigating variation and change in written documents." In J.K. Chambers, Peter Trudgill & Natalie Schilling-Estes, eds. The Handbook of Language Variation and Change. Oxford, Malden, MA: Blackwell 2002, 67-96.
Schneider, Edgar W. 2003. "Shakespeare in the coves and hollows? Toward a history of Southern English." In Stephen J. Nagle and Sara L. Sanders, eds., English in the Southern United States. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 17-35.
Schneider, Edgar W. and Michael B. Montgomery. 2001. "On the trail of early nonstandard grammar: An electronic corpus of Southern U.S. antebellum overseers' letters." American Speech 76: 388-410.

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Session 8aFRI : Friday, April 16, 4:40-5:00, Ferguson Theater

Genetic and Linguistic Distances Among English and American Dialects

Robert Shackleton
US Congressional Budget Office

This analysis applies genetic and linguistic distance measures to pronunciations of 82 different phonemes (with a total of 285 allophones) by 131 speakers in regions of the South, Massachusetts, and southern England, drawn mainly from Kurath and McDavid's Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States. Speakers are compared by counting shared allophones, by calculating Nei's genetic distance from the proportion of shared allophones, and by calculating a Euclidean distance between allophones in a standard idealized vowel grid. The alternative measures provide insights into speech variation within and among regions that complement but do not replace those from a careful analysis of individual speech features. The results suggest that differences among American speech forms may be accounted for largely by founder effects that culled different sets of allophones from the large population available among early immigrants from different regions of England.

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Session 11a: Saturday, April 17, 2:00-2:20, Ferguson Theater

Southern American English in Literature and Films

Rachel E. Shuttlesworth
University of Alabama

While many scholars have studied Southern American English (SAE) (McMillan and Montgomery 1998) varieties and others have examined the oft-negative reputations of SAE varieties (Lippi-Green 1997, Niedzielski and Preston 2000, Preston 1996), more research is needed regarding how SAE is depicted in literature and films. Previous studies that relate to this topic include Bernstein (2000) and Schneider (2001b) which address stereotypical uses of SAE, the former in some literary and film works and the latter in (supposedly) humorous booklets about SAE.
This study examines depictions of certain features of Southern American English (SAE) in literary and film works from 1900 to 2000 to determine how they deviate from or adhere to actual SAE usage as established in scholarly works (Feagin 1979, Fennell and Butters 1996, Mishoe 1998, Montgomery 1998). The features chosen include two that are “uniquely Southern” (Schneider 2001a:25), y’all and multiple modal verbs, as well as ain’t, which is used by many speakers of vernacular English varieties, although some scholars (Schneider 2001a, Atwood 1953) claim it to be more common in SAE than in other dialects of American English. In order to determine the accuracy of the depictions of these features in SAE character dialogue, I utilize linguistic descriptions of the features to establish a baseline of their usage by SAE speakers. When SAE is depicted differently than SAE speakers use it, I analyze the deviation using my adaptation of the semiotic distortion framework outlined by Irvine and Gal (2000). This analysis involves identifying three processes: iconization, fractal recursivity, and erasure. Iconization occurs when a certain feature or one of its uses comes to be inherently connected to a group of speakers. Fractal recursivity involves extended the systematic usage of a dialectal feature to other uses, altering the rule-based dialectal structure. Erasure occurs when a feature or one of its uses is deleted from a depiction. Utilizing this framework allows us to view the discrepancies between how authors and screenwriters depict SAE and how native speakers use it. To supplement my analysis of SAE feature depiction, I will also present opinions of SAE speakers regarding the accuracy of pertinent literary and film excerpts. The study’s findings could demonstrate how certain SAE features have evolved to indicate Southernness and, when compared to contemporary folk linguistic depictions of SAE, may reveal some of the historical origins of SAE’s negative reputation. The presentation of these data will include literary excerpts and film clips, allowing those present to offer feedback regarding the accuracy and validity of my analysis.


Atwood, E. B. (1953). A Survey of Verb Forms in the Eastern United States. University of Michigan Press.
Bernstein, C. (2000). Misrepresenting the American South. American Speech 75:4, pp. 339-42.
Feagin, C. (1979). Variation and Change in Alabama English: a sociolinguistic study of the white community. Washington: Georgetown University Press.
Fennell, B. and R. Butters. (1996). Historical and Contemporary Distribution of Double Modals in English. In E. Schneider (Ed.). Focus on the USA (pp. 265-288). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Irvine, J. and S. Gal. (2000). Language Ideology and Linguistic Differentiation. In P. Kroskrity (Ed.). Regimes of Language: Ideologies, Polities, and Identities (pp. 35-84). Santa Fe: School of American Research Press.
Lippi-Green, R. (1997). English With An Accent: Language, Ideology, and Discrimination in the United States. New York: Routledge.
McMillan, J. and Montgomery, M. (1989). Annotated Bibliography of Southern American English. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Mishoe, M. (1998). Styleshifting in Southern English. In C. Myers-Scotton (Ed.). Codes and Consequences: Choosing Linguistic Varieties (pp. 162-177). New York: Oxford University Press.
Montgomery, M. (1998). Multiple Modals in LAGS and LAMSAS. In M. Montgomery and T. Nunnally (Eds.). From the Gulf States and Beyond: The Legacy of Lee Pederson and LAGS (pp. 90-122). Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.
Niedzielski, N. and D. Preston (2000). Folk Linguistics. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Preston, D. (1996). Where the Worst English Is Spoken. In E. Schneider (Ed.). Focus on the USA (pp. 297-361). Amsterdam: Benjamins.
Schneider, E. (2001a). The English dialect heritage of the Southern United States. In R. Hickey (Ed.). Transported Dialects: The Legacy of Non-Standard Colonial English (pp. 1-56). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Schneider, E. (2001b). “How to Speak Southern”: An American English Dialect Stereotyped. Amerikastudien/ American Studies 31: 425-439.


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