LAVIS III Conference

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Language Variety in the South: Historical and Contemporary Perspectives (LAVIS III) was held at the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa April 15-17, 2004.


Like both its predecessors, LAVIS III put on display the state of research into the new millennium, providing an important forum of exchange on center-stage issues such as the relationship between black and white speech in the South. Like its predecessors, LAVIS III sought to showcase the latest applications in the quantitative analysis of linguistic data, as well as other new methodologies. But LAVIS III sought to do more. For, despite the unqualified success of both LAVIS I and LAVIS II in the areas mentioned, important gaps remained. Various historical and contemporary issues needed to be addressed and integrated into a composite for commensurate progress to be made in filling in the larger picture of language variety in the South. In relation to the linguistic history of the South, there remained a need to establish a benchmark in the form of a more comprehensive sociohistorical reconstruction of the evolving linguistic landscape in the South, including historical dialect geography and linguistic demographics. The issues addressed included the role of indigenous languages and trade jargons, links to the Caribbean, and the nature of the European linguistic mix. In relation to the contemporary picture and future projections, many vital issues needed to be addressed, some of which were anchored in previous research, and some of which represented an expansion into new territory, but all of which benefited from the impetus of LAVIS III. These issues include the complexity of relationship between black and white speech, current language contact, new frameworks and technologies for quantitative methodologies, and the use of innovative methodologies in approaching an expanded object of study including perceptual dialectology, discourse analysis and pragmatics, language ideology, and the representation of Southern speech in the media.