American Voices: How Dialects Differ from Coast to Coast by Walt Wolfram, Ben Ward

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By Walt Wolfram, Ben Ward

American Voices is a set of brief, readable descriptions of assorted American dialects, written by way of most sensible researchers within the box. written by means of best researchers within the box and contains Southern English, New England speech, Chicano English, Appalachian English, Canadian English, and California English, between many others attention-grabbing examine the total diversity of yankee social, ethnic, and neighborhood dialects written for the lay individual

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Sample text

Bailey (1992) summarize the well-known characteristics of New Orleans speech and the complex cultural heritage and intricate social stratification that still influence it. To be sure, New Orleans shares many linguistic features with its neighbors in other parts of southern Louisiana, particularly vocabulary. Most New Orleanians would recognize, if not use, many words claimed to be Cajun English, such as boudin ‘sausage of pork, rice, and seasoning’, cushcush ‘browned cornmeal eaten as a cereal’, and make do do ‘go to sleep’.

Even as some traditional pronunciation features are disappearing, some interesting new developments are taking place. Especially in urban areas, but also in rural west Texas, the vowels in words like caught and cot are becoming merged (both sound like cot), as are tense/lax vowel pairs before l: pool and pull are now homophones or near homophones throughout much of the state, and feel/fill and sale/sell are increasingly becoming so. The caught/cot merger is particularly interesting in Texas since it should signal the movement of the phonological system away from the “Southern Shift” pattern.

The inauguration of George W. Bush as President, for instance, led to a rash of stories in the popular media about the new kind of English in the White House (Armed Forces Radio ran an interview with us on the new President’s English once an hour for 24 hours). The irony of the media frenzy, of course, is that the man George Bush was replacing in the White House spoke a variety of English that was quite similar to Bush’s in many ways and perhaps even more marked by regional features. Actually, the uniqueness of TXE is probably more an artifact of the presence of Texas in the popular imagination than a reflection of linguistic circumstances.

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