North American English Dialects by ilicaifengba


									          North American English Dialects
                                        Major dialect groups:
                                        General American: Central Eastern

                                        Northeastern:            New York City
                                                                New England

                                        Southern:                Inland

                                        Canadian:               General Canadian

G4 Proseminar            Dialectology     
             North American English Dialects
                                              THE SOUTH
• the historical South consists of two main dialectal areas:
    – Coastal or Lower Southern (southern east coast, Gulf coast into Texas)
          • formed in the time of plantation and ranch agriculture
          • for close to 300 years enslaved West Africans provide the main labor force
                   – African American English (also Black English or Ebonics) is based on southern accents, its
                     influence on white southerners’ speech is debated
    – Inland/Upper Southern (mountainous back country)
          • largely made up of small towns with farming often just above subsistence level
• lots of different dialectal subdivisions depending on authors (Plains Southern,
  Gulf Southern, Mid Southern, Coastal Southern) overlapping with Midwest GA
• some areas in the south have rather different accents:
    –   Gullah: African Creole around Charleston
    –   French-influenced Cajun English around New Orleans
    –   Spanish influence in Texas (“Spanglish” also in California, Florida, New York)
    –   Southern Florida settled very late by English speakers, thus no southern accent, but
        GA and lots of Spanish influence

   G4 Proseminar                                Dialectology              
             North American English Dialects
• “Southern Drawl”:
    – “easy to recognize, but difficult to describe satisfyingly” (Wells)
    – relatively greater length in stressed accented syllables as compared to unstressed
    – lots of diphthongizations
• lax vowels
    – Southern Breaking: strong Breaking effect for /  æ/ esp. in stressed
      monosyllables: “hill” as [hi ] or even [hij ], “bed” [bej d], “bad” [bæ j d]
          • if the following consonant is /    g ŋ/ the offglide may be / / such that “special” is
            [sp        ], “egg” [ g]
    – Umlaut Effect: kind of vowel harmony in which a stressed vowel is influenced by a
      following unstressed vowel in a weak syllable in the same morpheme: fronted by
      / / in “picket”, neutral in “pick”, retracted by / / in “picker”
    – Shading: all lax vowels, but especially / / are retracted before labials and liquids.
      They are not retracting before velars and variable before other consonants
    – distinction / /- / / neutralized before /n/: “pin”, “pen” as [ph n]
    – distinction between / / and / / as weak vowels is retained
    – / / often as / /; e.g., “love” [l v] (perceived by English listeners as “lerve”)

   G4 Proseminar                         Dialectology           
             North American English Dialects
• diphthongs
    – /a / becomes /a:/: “time” /ta:m/ (very characteristic southern feature)
    – /a / becomes /æ /: “down” /dæ n/
    – / / with a slightly higher starting point as /o /
    – word-final / / is pronounced [ ], e.g., “boy” [b ]
• vowels in general
    – /u/ generally slightly fronted and diphthongal as [ u]
    – nasalization of vowels before nasals: “camp” [khæ mp], “find” [fãn]
          • nasal consonant can be elided: “glance” as [glæ s], “gonna” as [gõ], “don’t” as [dõ]
    – tense vowel before prevocalic / /, e.g., “dairy” [de ] vs. “dare” [dæ ] / [dæ ]
      (generally a lot of regional variations of the different vowels in that position)
• consonants
    –    /l/ may be elided before a labial, labiodental or velar: “help” [h p], “golf” [go f]
    –   cluster reduction of final [st d nd]: “just” as “jus’” (not with morpheme boundary)
    –   widespead use of retroflex [ ] for / / before / /: “shrink” as [     ŋk]
    –   /z/ often as /d/ before /n/: “business” [b dn s], “isn’t” [ dnt]

   G4 Proseminar                        Dialectology         
              North American English Dialects
                                  LOWER SOUTHERN
• eastern Virginia, South Carolina, northern Florida, southern Alabama,
  Mississippi, Louisiana, south-eastern Texas (considerable regional variation)
• generally considered to be non-rhotic
     – reliably non-rhotic groups of speakers: African Americans and upper class whites
           • hyper non-rhoticity: not even linking-R (and no intrusive R)
     – for a long time non-rhoticity was considered refined and of high prestige, rhoticity
       associated with Northerners, poor whites, or hicks from the mountains (Inner South)
     – rhoticity now gains prestige (younger people and new residents)
           • studies can find people with rhoticity scores (percent of / / used when not
             prevocalically) from 0% to 100% within the same community
• /a / becomes /æ / as well, except:
     – in South Carolina it is /a /; in some parts of North Carolina optionally as [a ]
     – breaking in some “Deep South” areas, e.g., Mississippi, “brown” as [b æ æ n]
     – coastal areas of Georgia, northern Florida, South Carolina have an allophone [ ]
       before voiceless obstruents
•   / / usually pronounced / / in the northern part of Lower South, from
    Alabama on south and westward / / is retained

    G4 Proseminar                         Dialectology            
             North American English Dialects
                       INLAND/UPPER SOUTHERN
• West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, northern
  Alabama, south-western Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas
• generally quite similar to Lower Southern with a few exceptions
• firmly rhotic throughout the whole area, can even be hyper-rhotic, e.g.,
  “window” as [w nd ]
• many specific local characteristics: e.g., Texan tendency towards /s z / as
  retroflex/ / in all positions (“see” as [ i:]) – in a strong accent
• / / pronounced as diphthong / / in all positions, even before / /, e.g.,
  “four” as [f     ]
• pronunciation of “it” as [h t] is a well-known characteristic of old fashioned
  rural mountain accents – not an innovation, but a historical relic
• mountain speech replaces /t/ by / /
    –   between nasals (“ointment” [ n m nt])
    –   before a nasal within a word (“witness” [w n s]) - this also happens in GA
    –   before a nasal across a word boundary (“it’s a mite noisy” [h ts ma n z ])
    –   before other sonorants (“settler” [s l ], “can’t you?” [ke j ])

   G4 Proseminar                   Dialectology     
             North American English Dialects
• grammatical features
    – widespread inclusive plural personal pronoun “y’all” (“Y’all comin’ tonight?)
    – possible use of invariant “be” (more Blacks than Whites): “She be here tomorrow”,
      “Ah be pretty busy”, “That land don’t be sandy”
    – extremely frequent use of “ain’t” not just for “isn’t/wasn’t” but also “haven’t”
      (“You ain’t seen nuthin yet”)
• typical Southern vocabulary and idioms
    – many distinctively Southern expressions are archaisms in other varieties of English:
      all-overs (feelings of uneasiness), (ap)preciate it (thank you), branch (brook,
      stream), to carry (to escort), gullywasher (violent rainstorm), hand (farm worker),
      hull (shell of a nut), kinfolk (relatives), lick (sharp blow)
    – contributions from other languages: terrapin (kind of turtle/Native American),
      gumbo (soup thickened with okra pods/West African), armoire (wardrobe), bayou
      (small river), jambalaya (stew with rice & meats/ all French), llano (open
    – New Orleans dialect has French-influenced idioms: to make the groceries (to shop
      for groceries), to make menage (to clean the house) , to save the dishes (to put the
      dishes away)

   G4 Proseminar                     Dialectology      
             North American English Dialects
• Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, eastern Vermont,
• continuing close links between the port of Boston and London in post-
  settlement times led to the importation of originally southern English features
    – nowadays this is not the case anymore, similarly, Boston’s influence on the
      surrounding areas has been steadily decreasing
    – Eastern New England speech characteristics are now being eroded by GA
• some typical characteristics
    – traditionally non-rhotic (but influence from GA)
    – / :/ is fronted to /a:/ (“park the car” /pa:k ð ka:/)
          • words with [æ:] were lowered and backed to / :/ (“staff”, “castle”, “ask”) taking over
            the results of a process that took place in 18th century British English (but not GA), but
            subsequently fronted again to /a:/
    – equivalent of RP / / not lowered to [ :] as in GA, but merges with RP vowel / :/
      such that “cot” = “caught”, phonetically it is closer to [ ], but both symbols can be
      used (“lot” /l t/ - /l t/ , “port” /p t/ - /p t/)

   G4 Proseminar                          Dialectology           
             North American English Dialects
• New York City and eastern New Jersey
• distinctiveness of its accent can also be attributed to its role as a port with close
  links to England, but more so to the concentration of masses of immigrants
    – main languages with influence: Yiddish, Italian, Irish, Irish English, Dutch, German
• well-known, distinctive, often disparaged accent (“negative prestige”)
• well-defined sociolectal continuum (Labov studies) still today
• some typical characteristics
    – non-rhotic, but some “R-restoration” due to GA influence
    – /æ/ raised to / / when followed by a voiced stop (“cab”), voiceless fricative
      (“laugh”), /m n/ (“ham”, “man”) and when these consonants are followed by a
      morpheme boundary (“stabs”, “manly”) or an obstruent (“camp”, “candy”), but not
      when they are followed by a vowel or liquid (“dragon” with [æ])
    – GA / / (can be / :/ or / / in RP) as / / (“coffee talk” [kh fi th k])
    – central / / diphthongized to / / (“nurse” [n s]) - stigmatized !!
    – dental fricatives /θ ð/ as dental stops /t d/ (“thanks” [t ŋks])

   G4 Proseminar                     Dialectology      
             North American English Dialects
                    ENGLISH ACCENTS IN CANADA
• Maritime English
    –   Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island (some regional variation)
    –   a certain continuity with New England accents
    –   no Canadian Raising
    –    / :/ is fronted to /a:/ or even /æ/: “palm” [phæm]
    –   equivalent of RP / / not lowered to / :/, merged with / / (“cot” = “caught”)
• Newfoundland English
    – Britain’s oldest colony (founded 1583) and Canada’s newest province (1949)
    – has affinities with Irish English and southwestern British English
    – Irish influence: clear /l/, dental fricatives as dental plosives
    – raising of [a ]    [ ] and [a ]       [ ] in all environments
    – both / / and / / are lowered, but retain a length distinction, / :/ (“thought”) and
      / / (“shot”) respectively
    – / / backed and rounded to [ ]: “cut” [kh t]
    – broad Newfoundland accent is the only North-American accent with H-Dropping

   G4 Proseminar                    Dialectology      

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