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Date: Mon, 25 Apr 1994 15:38:33 -0400

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Date: 25 Apr 1994 11:30:45 -0400 (EDT)


Subject: Re: Articles, Papers or Chapters on American English

Bill Kretzschmar, your suggestions for an American English syllabus are very

helpful; I, too, have been struggling with the paucity of sources for a topic

on which I teach a course. I'm not familiar with the Eckert anthology; can

you give me more information? And of course I'm looking forward to using the

new Glowka and Lance volume when next I teach the course.


Becky Howard

Department of Interdisciplinary Writing

Colgate University



Subj: RE: Articles, Papers or Chapters on American English

I sympathise with John Kirk's request for neat information on American


For my course called "American English" this quarter, I despaired of

finding any single text that I thought would do the trick. What is still

the best single little book on the subject is the rev. ed. of Carroll

Reed's *Dialects of American English* (UMass Press, 1977). This book of

course has many holes and substantially misses the development of Labovian

sociolinguistics. Roger Shuy's *Discovering American Dialects* (NCTE, c.

1967) appears still to be in print but has the same problem only

worse---Shuy's major work in sociolinguistics came after it. A somewhat

larger book is Wolfram's *Dialects and American English* (Prentice Hall,

1992), which is excellent on just those subjects that Reed and Shuy are

too early for, but misses all the historical coverage and doesn't offer

lists of features that are associated with different locales. McDavid's

edition of Mencken's *The American Language* also still has great

merits. Marckwardt's *American English* (1st ed., Oxford, 1958) and

Mathews' *The Beginnings of American English* (Chicago, 1931, repr.

1973), both important sources for me, are out of print.

What I finally did was to make a "professor publisher packet" at the local

copy shop, in which the centerpieces were McDavid's chapter in Nelson

Francis's *Structure of American English* (Ronald, 1958) and Sumner Ives's

"A Theory of Literary Dialect" (from Williamson and Burke, *A Various

Language* (c. 1967), which is a revision of the *Tulane Studies in

English* article). I supplemented these with Crevecouer's *Letters from

an American Farmer*, and with several short pieces including Hartman's

"Pronunciation Guide" from DARE vol. 1, Labov's "Three Dialects of

English" (from the Eckert anthology), several articles on Black (and White

Southern) English by the likes of Feagin, Fasold, and Bailey and Maynor.

I also blushed and put in a couple of my own essays to update what McDavid

wrote about dialects. The whole thing ended up costing the students

about $20, which included $6 in royalties (as the copy shop reported).

In short, there is a great need now for just the sort of work outlined by

Kirk. I hope somebody writes one.


Bill Kretzschmar Phone: 706-542-2246

Dept. of English FAX: 706-542-2181

University of Georgia Internet: billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Athens, GA 30602-6205 Bitnet: wakjengl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uga