Date: Thu, 8 Dec 1994 15:34:51 -0500

From: "William A. Kretzschmar, Jr." billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ATLAS.UGA.EDU

Subject: Re: The ADS crystal ball

On Wed, 7 Dec 1994, salikoko mufwene wrote:

In Message Tue, 6 Dec 1994 21:40:58 -0500

. . .

I have been wondering why very few American dialectologists have been

engaged by conjectures on the development of AAVE by offering reflections on

the genesis of other varieties of American English. By now it seems more

and more obvious that the cluster of varieties called American English have

resulted from language contact. While there have been several isolated

replies to the scholarship on the genesis of AAVE, replies which typically

claim the British origin of several features, I am surprised that no

serious attempt has been made to account for the transmission of these

features and their reorganization (not necessarily with features from the

same dialectal source in the British Isles) into American English.

Could a special session/conference be organized just in order to encourage

research in this direction? Just an idea not so well thought out that I

want to submit for consideration, since new ideas are solicited.

This is a great question, but I'm not sure how well anybody *could*

answer it. After the first wave of settlement, supposedly 90% British

with some admixture of Germans and French (particularly), there were

successive waves of new settlers depending on political and agricultural

conditions (AKA disasters) in various places. While there are some

obvious locations where early contact might be studied (Dutch New York,

Pennsylvania German, Louisiana Acadian French), it seems far more

difficult to deal with the question for the broad reach of American

regions. For example, how might contact phenomena have affected English

in Michigan in the mid 19th century, when large numbers of German

immigrants came in and spoke English by the second generation?

Karl Jaberg (1936) raises a similar question about the German of Eastern

Germany, including Berlin; he calls it a "colonised" area, which he

expects to have affects on the language there, principally more

generalized and less dialectal (in the sense of dialects withing

boundaries) language.

Perhaps John Algeo's forthcoming volume on American English in the

Cambridge HEL will give some ideas.

Regards, Bill


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