Date: Sat, 26 Feb 1994 12:00:07 -0700
From: Rudy Troike RTROIKE[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ARIZVMS.BITNET
Subject: Re: Something old, something new
To: David Johns
Thanks for the very interesting information. Coastal Georgia should
have a schwa-onset in write , as exemplified in one of my colleagues from
Savannah. Without a map, I'm not sure how far inland Waycross is, but it is
interesting that the distinction in the /ay/ nucleus is maintained without
the schwa-quality (i.e., before vl. consonants, vs the monophthongization
before voiced or no consonant).
On the two co-occurring varieties, I found in East Texas that there
were still echoes of the ante-bellum social separation among whites, but the
old upper-class pronunciation was being rapidly overwhelmed. What mattered
was not current wealth, but pre-war status. The South has long recognized
the condition of "genteel poverty", so current income is not what counts/ed.
It might be worth looking into this variable, but I suspect you could make
a tremendous contribution by an in-depth ethnographic study in the community,
including looking at social groupings in school. We really need some close
studies like that. Also, you might well need to look into the historical
census records to find out about the settlement history of particular
families. It sounds like a fascinating and exciting situation.
It was also interesting to get the information on /hw/:/w/. The loss
of this contrast is one of the major changes of this century, but we have
unfortunately not taken the opportunity to systematically document the spread
of the loss. This might be a worthwhile project to undertake on a national
network scale, sampling across age and social groups througout the country.
There should be good baseline information in all the regional atlases and DARE,
but a unified study or linked series of surveys is needed. In Texas in the
1960s, I found the loss of /h/ among college-age students had reached about
50%, but only about 10% of students at the U of Arizona have it (though they
are not representative of Arizona, by any means). By the time the loss is
complete, linguists in the next century will wish we had done more to catch
it and document it in progress.
rtroike[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]ccit.arizona.edu