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REGIONAL AND SOCIAL DIALECTS. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Language vs. Dialect. “A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.” (Smith & Wilhelm 49)

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regional and social dialects

REGIONAL AND SOCIAL DIALECTS

by Don L. F. Nilsen

and Alleen Pace Nilsen

42

language vs dialect
Language vs. Dialect

“A language is a dialect with an army and a navy.”

(Smith & Wilhelm 49)

Speakers of different dialects may have difficulty understanding each other, but speakers of different languages can’t understand each other at all.

Norwegian, Swedish, Danish and Icelandic are different dialects.

Mandarin, Cantonese and seven other varieties of “Chinese” are different languages.

settlement of america 1 new england names
SETTLEMENT OF AMERICA # 1: NEW ENGLAND NAMES
  • New England
  • Plymouth Rock
  • New York
  • New Jersey
  • Cambridge, Massachusetts
  • Boston Celtics (Irish)
  • New Amsterdam (Dutch)
  • Harlem
  • New York Knickerbockers
  • Dutch West Indies

42

settlement of america 2 pennsylvania names
SETTLEMENT OF AMERICA # 2: PENNSYLVANIA NAMES
  • William Penn
  • Pennsylvania Dutch (Deutch)
  • “thee” “thy,” “thine” and “thou”

42

settlement of america 2 southern names in delmarvia
SETTLEMENT OF AMERICA # 2: SOUTHERN NAMES IN DELMARVIA
  • Jamestown, Virginia
  • Williamsburg, Virginia
  • The Slave Trade: Charleston, South Carolina; Liverpool, England; and Sierra Leon, West Africa
  • Pidgins and Creoles resulting from “Maritime English”)
  • The development of black English as a pidgin

42

settlement of america 3 the cumberland pass
SETTLEMENT OF AMERICA # 3: THE CUMBERLAND PASS
  • Scottish and Irish settlements in the South
  • Irish story tellers (the Jack tales like “Jack and the Beanstalk”)

42

phonological differences
PHONOLOGICAL DIFFERENCES
  • Greasy
  • With
  • spoon (noon)
  • Creek
  • Roof
  • However, wash is not so much regional as rural.

42

phonogical distinctions that are becoming lost
PHONOGICAL DISTINCTIONS THAT ARE BECOMING LOST
  • cot-caught
  • witch-which
  • mourning – morning
  • However, pin-pen is remaining stable.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams 413)

42

new england phonology
NEW ENGLAND PHONOLOGY
  • lot (New England)
  • park the car; Cuba-r-is
  • merry – marry – Mary
  • calf (pass, path, dance)
  • Brooklyn: dis, dat, dese, dose, dem

42

the southern dialect
The Southern Dialect
  • “The South, because of its rural, isolated past, boasts a diversity of dialects, from Appalachian twangs in several states, to Elizabethan lilts in Virginia, to Cajun accents in Louisiana, to African-influenced Gullah accents on the coasts of Georgia and South Carolina.”
  • “One accent that has been all but wiped out is the slow juleps-in-the-moonlight drawl favored by Hollywood portrayals of the South. To find that so-called plantation accent in most parts of the region nowadays requires a trip to the video store.”

(Collins & Wyatt [2009]: 333-334)

42

the plantation drawl vs appalachian speech
The Plantation Drawl vs. Appalachian Speech
  • “Even as the stereotypical southern accent gets rarer, other speech patterns take its place, and they’re not any less southern.”
  • “The Upland South accent, a faster-paced dialect native to the Appalachian mountains, is said to be spreading just as fast as the plantation drawl disappears.”

(Collins & Wyatt [2009]: 334)

42

walt wolfram on southern speech
Walt Wolfram on Southern Speech
  • Walt Wolfram says that “the vowel shift where one-syllable words like “air” come out in two syllables, “ay-ah” is certainly vanishing.”
  • “Other aspects—such as double-modal constructions like “might could”—are still pervasive.”

(Collins & Wyatt [2009]: 335)

42

roy blount jr on southern speech
Roy Blount Jr. on Southern Speech
  • Roy Blount Jr. said, “My father, who was a surely intelligent man, would say ‘cain’t,’ He wouldn’t say ‘can’t.’ And, ‘There ain’t no way, just there ain’t no way.’ You don’t want to say, ‘There isn’t any way.’ That just spoils the whole thing.”
  • “I just think that there’s a certain eloquence in southern vernacular that I wouldn’t want to lose touch with…you ought to sound like where you come from.”
  • “There are still plenty of professions that thrive on a good southern twang—from preachers to football coaches to a certain breed of courtroom litigators.”

(Collins & Wyatt [2009]: 335)

42

southern phonology
SOUTHERN PHONOLOGY
  • Mrs.
  • hog (frog, dog, Deputy Dog)
  • south => souf
  • during => doin’, and going => gon
  • help => hep
  • test => tes
  • ring => rang
  • boy => boah
  • car => cah
  • POlice

42

southern vocabulary
SOUTHERN VOCABULARY
  • chitlins and grits
  • to buy a pig in a poke
  • “Carry me Back to Old Virginie”

42

california valley girl surfer dude speech
CALIFORNIA VALLEY-GIRL & SURFER-DUDE SPEECH
  • Rising Inflections (like Australian English)
  • Animated Body Language (like sticking a finger down the throat)
  • Specialized Vocabulary (like “dude”, esp. relating to shopping malls, the beach, and personality types)

42

canadian phonology
CANADIAN PHONOLOGY
  • out and about the house
  • schedule
  • Canadian -eh

42

vocabulary differences
VOCABULARY DIFFERENCES
  • What do you fry your eggs in?
  • creeper, fryer, frying pan, fry pan, skillet, or spider
  • What do you call a soft drink?
  • coke, pop, soda, soda pop, or tonic?
  • What do you call a long sandwich containing salami etc.?
  • hero, submarine, hoagy, grinder or poorboy

42

slide21
What do you drink water out of?
  • drinking fountain, cooler, bubbler or geyser
  • How do you get something from one place to another?
  • take, carry, or tote
  • What do you carry things in?
  • a bag, a sack, or a poke
  • How do you speculate?
  • ponder, reckon, guess, figure, figger, suspect, imagine

42

british american pronunciation differences
BRITISH-AMERICAN PRONUNCIATION DIFFERENCES
  • calf, bath, pass, aunt
  • learn, fork, core, brother
  • carry, very
  • secretary, stationery, territory, dictionary, laboratory, necessary, missionary
  • either, neither, potato, tomato
  • clerk, schedule
  • captain, bottle (glottals [in Cockney])

42

british american vocabulary differences
BRITISH-AMERICAN VOCABULARY DIFFERENCES
  • girl, cop, hood (of a car), trunk (of a car), suspenders, apartment, elevator, truck, wig, gasoline, bar, line, monkey wrench, television, flashlight, subway
  • bird, bobby, bonnet, boot, braces, flat, lift, lorry, peruque, petrol, pub, queue, spanner, tele, torch, tube

42

british american stress differences
BRITISH-AMERICAN STRESS DIFFERENCES
  • Aluminum
  • Applicable
  • Cigarette
  • Formidable
  • Kilometer
  • Laboratory
  • Secretary

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams 413)

42

british american spelling differences
BRITISH-AMERICAN SPELLING DIFFERENCES
  • Cheque
  • centre, theatre
  • colour, honour
  • defence, offence
  • labelled, travelled
  • Pyjamas
  • tyre

42

british expressions to watch out for
BRITISH EXPRESSIONS TO WATCH OUT FOR
  • fag or faggot (wood for the fireplace, or cigarette)
  • soliciter (lawyer)
  • to knock someone up (wake them up in the morning)

42

cockney rhyming slang
COCKNEY RHYMING SLANG
  • apples and pears (stairs)
  • Aristotle (bottle)
  • pig’s ear (beer)
  • Mother Hubbard (cupboard)
  • plates and dishes (Mrs.)

42

grammar differences
GRAMMAR DIFFERENCES
  • Double Modals: might could
  • Negative Modals: hadn’t ought
  • Strange Past Participles: larnt
  • Strange Possessive Pronouns: yourn, hisn, hern, ourn, theirn
  • Strange Prepositions: a quarter before eight
  • Strange Conjunctions: unless => without, lessen, thouten
  • Strange Adverbs: anywheres, nowheres

42

socially variable linguistic rules
SOCIALLY–VARIABLE LINGUISTIC RULES
  • Minimal Pairs
  • Word Lists
  • Reading Style
  • Careful Speech
  • Casual Speech

(William Labov’s Observation)

42

five degrees of formality
FIVE DEGREES OF FORMALITY
  • Frozen: Prissy Text Book
  • Formal: Most Text Books
  • Consultative: Conversations among Strangers or Large Groups
  • Casual: Conversations among Close Friends
  • Intimate: Conversations among Family Members or Lovers

Martin Joos The Five Clocks:

42

borsht belt humor
BORSHT BELT HUMOR
  • The Borsht Belt was a chain of hotels in the mountains near New York.
  • These hotels provided entertainment from their guests, most of whom were Jewish vacationers from New York City.

42

down east yankee humor
DOWN-EAST YANKEE HUMOR
  • This humor is taciturn and reluctant.
  • There is a story about Calvin Coolidge. He was seated next to a woman at an official White House function. She leaned toward him and confided that someone had bet her that she couldn’t make him say three words.
  • He responded, “You lose.”

(Nilsen & Nilsen 251)

42

slide34
While southern and western humor is filled with grammatical errors, New England humor is shown through the use of archaic or old-fashioned words like “clumb,” “tonk,” or “holp.”
  • They make the character sound quaint rather than ignorant.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 251)

42

minnesota lake wobegon humor
MINNESOTA & LAKE WOBEGON HUMOR
  • In Garrison Keillor’s Lake Wobegon, “all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking and all the children are above average.”
  • Tourists in the upper Midwest can find the Paul Bunyan Logging Camp. They can find his mail box, and can climb the ladder to drop in their letters.

42

slide36
As they travel the roads in Minnesota tourists will also find a huge ear of corn mounted on a water tower, a Jolly Green Giant, an oversized snowman, a huge Uncle Sam, and the “World’s Biggest Revolver.”
  • Each state of the upper Midwest has its own share of roadside attractions.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 251)

42

southern humor
SOUTHERN HUMOR
  • “A radio comedian once remarked that ‘the Mason-Dixon line is the dividing line between you-all and youse-guys.”

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams 412)

  • People from Alabama feel particularly picked on because they have become the butt of jokes made by talk show hosts, disc jockeys, newspaper cartoonists, columnists and such TV personalities as Conan O’Brien, Bill Maher, and Jon Stewart.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 253)

42

slide38
Wayne Flynt, a history professor at Alabama’s Auburn University explained that this is because of Alabama’s trying to “invent a world consistent with our ideals, and it’s a world that doesn’t exist anymore. We’re trying to squeeze rural values into an urban world.”

(Nilsen & Nilsen 253)

42

western frontier humor
WESTERN FRONTIER HUMOR
  • The frontier humor of the American West or of Australia tends to be exaggerated:
  • He is so stingy that he sits in the shade of the hackberry tree to save the shade of the porch.
  • His feet are so big that he has to put his pants on over his head.
  • His teeth stick out so far that he can eat a pumpkin through a rail fence.

42

slide40
When Slue-Foot Sue married Pecos Bill, Sue insisted on riding his horse, Widow-Maker.
  • Widow-Maker bucked her off and she bounced so high on her spring bustle that she orbited the moon and they had to throw jerky to her to keep her from starving to death.
  • When Pecos Bill died, they marked his grave site with, “Here lies Pecos Bill. He always lied and always will. He once lied loud. He now lies still.”

(Nilsen & Nilsen 128)

42

slide41
Joe Barnes was “sired by a yoke of cattle, suckled by a she-bear and had three sets of teeth and gums for another set.”
  • Nimrod Wildfire was “a touch of the airthquake. He had the prettiest sister, the fattest horse, and the ugliest dog in the district.”
  • Wirt Staples has “a shadow that can wilt grass, breath that can poison mosquitoes, and a yell that can break windows.
  • Mike Fink was “a Salt River roarer, a ring-tailed squealer, half wild horse and half cock-eyed alligator and the rest crooked snags and red-hot snappin’ turtle.”

42

western country humor
WESTERN COUNTRY HUMOR
  • Country humor is associated with the “Corn Belt,” and is therefore sometimes called “corny.”
  • In The Henry Holt Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins, Robert Hendrickson said, “Corn came to be known as what farmers feed pigs and comedians feed farmers.”

(Nilsen & Nilsen 250)

42

slide43
Jim Garry of Big Horn, Wyoming says that farmers and ranchers are subject to three uncontrollable forces: the weather, the bank, and the government.
  • Therefore, their humor tends to be fatalistic, even though the details change from region to region. It could be based on blizzards, floods or droughts.
  • Garry tells about a guy smiling as he walks away from a bank. The guy says, “I’ve won! There’s no way I’ll live long enough to have to pay this note off.”

(Nilsen & Nilsen 250)

42

slide44
Marvin Koller described rural humor as “down-to-earth” as when a small Oklahoma town each summer sponsors a “cow chip” throwing contest, and a rural Ohio town has a “chicken-flying” contest to measure how far a hen will fly when released from her coop. In Vermillion Ohio there is a “wooly bear” festival to celebrate the amount of “fur” or “fuzz” on brown and black caterpillars.
  • This last festival is designed to predict whether the coming winter will be severe or mild.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 251)

42

slide45
In the 1940s, country singer and comedian Judy Canova was Republic Studio’s top female star. Her show foreshadowed Hee Haw and she wore clod-hopper shoes and carried a cardboard suitcase. Her hair was braided into pigtails.
  • During the 1950s, there was the National Barn Dance featuring Homer and Jethro. Homer played a guitar and Jethro a mandolin, and both would crack jokes and then say, “Oooh, that’s corny!”
  • This phrase later became part of an advertising campaign for cornflakes.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 252)

42

slide46
Cousin Minnie Pearl was a favorite on Hee Haw. She told corny jokes, wore a straw hat with a price tag hanging down, and greeted the audience with, “How-deeee! I’m just so proud to be here!”
  • Hee Haw, and The Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee were the roots of today’s country music industry. Earlier, the Old Southwest had been settled by Scottish and Irish immigrants who had come through the Cumberland Pass and settled in the Ozarks.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 252)

42

slide47
!A nasal twang that imitates the sound of a guitar has long been a feature of country and Western singing, and CB radio. There has also long been a tradition of “moonshine” humor, as can be seen in these book titles by Lewis Grizzard:
  • The Shoes I Bought and Paid For are Walking Out on Me
  • My Daddy was a Pistol, and I’m a Son of a Gun
  • If You Want to Keep the Beer Real Cold, Put it Next to My Ex-Wife’s Heart

42

slide48
!Drop-Kick Me, Jesus, Through the Goal Posts of Life.
  • Don’t Cry Down My Back, Baby, You Might Rust My Spurs
  • My Wife Ran Off with My Best Friend, and I Miss Him
  • She Stepped on my Heart and Stomped that Sucker Flat
  • Jeff Foxworthy and other redneck comedians on the Comedy Channel continue this tradition.

(Nilsen & Nilsen 252)

42

slide49
!!Between 1910 and 1920, one-third of all Americans lived on farms, but by the late 1990s fewer than 2 percent did.
  • In a 1997 Wall Street Journal article, Cynthia Crossen wrote, “The record shows the evolution of a people from innocent, hopeful, rural and God-fearing to plugged-in, ironic, inward-looking and dripping with ennui.”

(Nilsen & Nilsen 250)

42

regional social dialects web site
!!!REGIONAL & SOCIAL DIALECTS WEB SITE:

*American Dialect Society:

http://americandialect.org/

*Yankee-Dixie Quiz:

http://www.angelfire.com/ak2/intelligencerreport/yankee_dixie_quiz.html

42

slide51
References # 1:

Blount, Roy. Roy Blount’s Book of Southern Humor. New York, NY: W. W. Norton, 1994.

Clark, Virginia, Paul Eschholz, and Alfred Rosa. Language: Readings in Language and Culture, 6th Edition. New York, NY: St. Martin’s Press, 1998.

Collins, Jeffrey, and Kristen Wyatt.” “Whither the Southern Accent?” (Eschholz, Rosa & Clark [2009]: 333-335.

Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness: Readings for College Writers, 10th Edition. New York, NY: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. An Introduction to Language, 8th Edition. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007.

Koller, Marvin R. Humor and Society: Explorations in the Sociology of Humor. Houston, TX: Cap and Gown Press, 1988.

42

slide52
References # 2:

Labov, William. “The Study of Nonstandard English” (Clark, Eschholz & Rosa [1998]: 313-320).

Leary, James P., ed. Midwestern Folk Humor. 1991.

Mey, Jacob L. Pragmatics: An Introduction, 2nd Edition. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2001.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace. “Labels of Primary Potency.” Living Language. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1999, 145-194.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

42

slide53
References # 3:

Marckwardt, Albert, and J. L. Dillard. “Social and Regional Variation” (Clark, Eschholz & Rosa [1998]: 277-291).

Raskin, Victor, ed. The Primer of Humor Research. New York, NY: Mouton de Gruyter, 2008.

Roberts, Paul. “Speech Communities” (Clark, Eschholz & Rosa [1998]: 267-276)

Shuy, Roger. “Dialects: How They Differ” (Clark, Eschholz & Rosa [1998]: 292-312) .

Smith, Michael W., and Jeffrey D. Wilhelm. Getting It Right: Fresh Approaches to Teaching Grammar, Usage, and Correctness. New York, NY: Scholastic, 2007.

Sonnichsen, C. L. The Laughing West: Humorous Western Fiction, Past and Present. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1988.

Winter, Anne. “Graffiti as Social Discourse.” in Living Language. Ed. Alleen Pace Nilsen. Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon, 1999, 106-111.

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