Date: Sat, 5 Feb 1994 07:32:37 -0600 From: mftcf[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UXA.ECN.BGU.EDU Subject: Re: Regional variation in BE On Thu, 30 Dec 1993, Rudy Troike wrote: > Dear Joan, Sali, Tim, et al. ADS-Lers, > The reference to regional variation in BE/AAVE that I made was the > hardly momentous and necessarily largely anecdotal paper I published ages > ago (20 years!), in which the call for research on this topic has gone > largely unheeded. Unfortunately, valuable possibilities have disappeared > in the meantime. The reference is: > Troike, Rudolph C. "On Social, Regional, and Age Variation in Black > English," Florida FL Reporter (1973, Spring/Fall), 7-8. > One pervasive feature which seems to have a much wider occurrence > in the East is the devoicing of final -/d/, replaced with either /t/ or glotta > stop. At the time, I had not encountered this in Texas. Another items was > evidence that older speakers in Texas had the /IN/:/EN/ distinction, but that > it had been lost among younger speakers. This evidence considerably confounds > the view that the lack of the distinction is an original diagnostic of BE. > With more research, much more could be (could have been) found. > On Tim's interesting anecdote, I found differences between speakers in > Houston and Dallas, but his story calls to mind a student I had once who came > up after class and asked, in a strong "Brooklynese" pronunciation, if I though > she sounded like a Southerner. I was rather astonished by the question, and > assured her that she did not, so far as I could tell on casual hearing. Then > she explained, almost in tears, that she had lived for two years in Atlanta, G > where her husband had been stationed, and that after about a year, when she > would call home to her parents in Brooklyn, they would accuse her of "sounding > like a Southerner", evidently implying that this was somewhat treasonous to > family solidarity. As a result, she was feeling somewhat estranged from her > parents, which was very upsetting to her. The phonetic differences, whatever > they were, were clearly very subtle, but were enough to be detectable to > members of the linguistic community (her parents). > This is a common experience, of course, for all of its being little > documented. Brits are often able to detect minute differences in regional > varieties which are unidentifiable to American ears, at least on first hearing > Someone once gave me a tape of a young speaker from NYC who was "obviously" > Black, but when played for a colleague who was a native speaker, he expressed > doubt, though he could not put his finger on anything specific. He was in fact > right -- the speaker on tape was a Nuyorican -- New York Puerto Rican. But > again, the differences were so subtle that they would probably not have been > expressible even in narrow phonetic transcription. > Now, the urgent need is still to document regional differences before > they change or (pace Dennis) disappear. > Feliz Navidad, y'all, > --Rudy > I just had another experince last week like Rudy descirbed back in December. A student in my grad class went to Colo. and met a Texas lady who had a pronounced coastal southern pronunciation (Shirley does a good imitation). But shirley's lady was told she talked like a Yankee when she went home. This reminded me of Raven McDAvid's stories about goin ghome to So. Car. and being told he talked like a Yankee. This always surpirsed me becasue Raven's dialect was so different from my own that wen he referred to the LANCS community of "Murphysboro" (IL) I would have to get him to repeat it several times before I knew what he was talking about. This is interesting because, as Rudy says, there are linguistic cues that folks recognize, but they are very subtle. I hear stories like this a lot and can never imagine what the cues might be, even though I think I have a pretty good ear. This all sugests that even if some sort of national levelling of extreme regional diferences ever takes place (which I doubt anyway) there will remain significant distinctions which many commentators will miss. January's gone--goodbye and good riddance! Tim Frazer