Date: Mon, 29 Jan 1996 14:52:03 +0200

From: John Hopkins John.Hopkins[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]CSC.FI

Subject: Expanded outline of 'American Tongues' videotape for those interested

29 January 1996

Dear ADS-L Readers,

Last December Bethany Dumas and Dennis Preston circulated drafts of a

content outline for the "American Tongues" videotape, in conjunction with

discussion on several editions of the tape that may be extant.

I recalled that I had ordered the tape through the USIS post in Helsinki

back in 1989 for an American Studies Conference here, though I hadn't used

it in class since its 57-minute length was longer than the class period

for the course in which it best fit then. I now have an advanced course

which meets for a double period, for which the 57-minute length is okay.

Last week I took a few hours to expand Bethany's and Dennis' outlines to

include somewhat more detail. I am appending a copy in case this may be

useful to others as well. It is still in 'draft form', and I am open to

corrections from those of you who have (and use) the tape.

There is no indication in the credits of a version number, and I also do

not know whether USIA has a special edition for circulation to USIS posts

overseas, but can report that the line "Southerners talk like niggers"

that was identified under #22 in Bethany and Dennis' outlines is NOT

present in the tape that I have.

With best wishes,

John D. Hopkins

Lecturer in American Language & Culture

FAST Intercultural Area Studies Program

Department of Translation Studies

University of Tampere, Finland


Content Outline for 'American Tongues' Videotape

AV2E (FAST-US-8) U.S. English #2; Hopkins

(57 minutes running time)

American Tongues surveys regional variety, standards, the influence of

foreign languages, ethnic and gender differences, and presents attitudes

towards and stereotypes of U.S. regional ideolects and sociolects.

('AA' and 'EA' indicate "African American" and "European American")

1. Southern (AA) "What part of the South was I from ...

I let 'em guess!"

2. * "Mary had a little lamb; Its fleece was white as snow; And

everywhere that Mary went; The lamb was sure to go"

* Recited by six speakers: (EA) male, (EA) Pennsylvania Dutch

female, (EA) males, (AA) male child, (EA) female, (EA) female

3. Texas ranch talk, (EA) "cotton, peanuts and 'taters"

4. Northern city talk, "I can use more storm windows in my apartment"

5. (AA) female cheerleaders, "Did you go to the kitty wash"?

6. Various comments on regional dialects; (EA) on (AA) 'yakety-yak';

'Pennsylvania Dutch' speaker on being 'dutchified', e.g. "dumb"

7. Southern (EA) student actors reading Shakespeare: "what sounds funny

or odd to one person is music to another ..."

8. Text: 'Accent' or 'dialect' vs 'slang' and 'jargon'

9. Sales talk (EA male) full of computer jargon

10. Church singing and Tangier Island (VA/MD) fishermen (EA) "I'd

recognize that speech anywhere ... I figure I sound just like Walter


11. Comments on settlement history of US; more regional differences to

the east; fewer regional differences west of the Mississippi River

12. Sociolinguist Roger Shuy: our speech relates to how we live our

lives; as people change, so do their dialects

13. Style differences:

* Appalachia: Kentucky radio call-in marketplace program

* "I don't talk like a Buckeye ... I'm just a plain old hillbilly."

* "I thought this was how everyone talked until I went into the


* Cratis Williams, folklorist, on rhythms of Appalachian dialect

* Boot salesman "He might could wear it in a eight and a half"

* Strong emphasis in Appalachia on the integrity of an individual:

one must talk around a subject half an hour or so before getting

to it.

* Ohio "Midwest, straight American, bland." "We don't talk funny in

Columbus, but if you want funny, go about 70 miles south."

* Truck stop restaurant at 7:30 in the morning

* Texas & 'jackalope': Historian A.C. Greene "Most westerners in

their speaking are more open, more forthright; Texans are not

supposed to hide anything"; training cow dogs, "I'm stupid ... you

need to everyday train those dogs..."

14. Text, certain foreign language influences can be seen in different

parts of the country: German in PA Dutch area, African languages with

the Gullah dialect of South Carolina, French with Louisiana Cajun

15. NYC 'Pastrami King' deli: 'chicken fried steak, hush puppies on the

side, cream gravy and ice tea' vs 'kishka, knish, bialys...'

16. Regional lexical differences:

* RI ('cabinet' instead of milk shake)

* Pittsburgh ('gum band' for rubber band)

* Hawaii ('pau hana' for the work's done, finished, over with)

* Louisiana ("jambalaya" spicy rice stew)

* Texas: "antigogglin" for catty [or kitty]-cornered; Pennsylvania

Dutch area, "snickelfritz" for 'rowdy little kid'

* NYC "shlep" or "lug" for "carry" (others think 'schlep' is


17. Words tell about people in a particular place: Oklahoma terminology

for rain storms; Children's language game: we learn language patterns

and vocabulary from the people around us.

18. Sociolinguist Walt Wolfram: "language learning starts in the home,

and is influenced by TV and school; most important is the language of

peers with whom we interact daily, but original dialect is the one we

fall back to"

19. Southern (AA) female professional, moving back & forth between


20. Text: there is no 'Standard' U.S. dialect except 'Network standard.'

(EA) generic voice of 'directory assistance'; "voice from nowhere"

21. (EA) female New England student on Southern speech "This... 'you all'

stuff." "When I met my southern boyfriend at Yale I imagined William

Faulker or Truman Capote; but then I drove home with him to the South

and the accent became thicker and thicker. That was the end: I was

not going to have any little southern babies who talked liked that."

22. Regional dialects are associated with what we like or dislike about

other parts of the country. Ohio Columnist Mike Harden:

* "New Yorkers think there's rampant brain death west of the


* "Ohioans retaliate, and suggest that the reason New Yorkers

have such nasal accents is that the air up in skyscrapers is so


* Southerners think Northerners are not hospitable (their voices

sound grating, nasal, and unkind to Southern ears)

* Northerners mock Southern /a:s/ for /ays/ ("See, ice,


* Southern EA females think northern speech is too abrupt, 'cold'

* Texan Molly Irvin on North's prejudicial stereotypes of

southerners ("always depicted by WWII Hollywood as 'dumb and


23. Regional stereotypes quickly identify people and places; 'distinctive

dialects' are often used for villains or comic characters

* (1) (NJ?) "Prize Fight" youth outside storefront; (2) Speech

therapist (Born Yesterday) with blonde who'd 'like to learn to

talk good'; (3) Marlon Brando (On The Waterfront), "a one-way

ticket to Palookaville ... I could'a had class ... instead I'm

a bum";

* But from Twain's "Huck Finn" to Wilder's "Our Town", dialect

has also been used to make characters appear trustworthy: Rock

Hudson & Doris Day (in Pillow Talk) use of "sincere"

country-boy dialect

24. Speech and humor: from Will Rogers to the Borscht Belt, performers

have used familiar, non-standard dialects to get laughs: Comedian

Robert Klein, "Georgians talk in questions [rising intonation]; no

wonder they lost the Civil War, the troops couldn't understand what

do do (when the officers called out 'charge?')"

25. Linguistically insecure EA female feels bad when she can't 'speak


26. Consequences of speaking a nonstandard or 'noticed' variety (Brooklyn

speaker ('identified with slum') trying to pronounce "farmer" with

speech coach). People may make fun of you. Non-standard dialects

are not what the corporate world is looking for. Speech therapist

Dennis Beck says the company can't have people representing them who

don't 'sound smart'

27. Even a single place can have many accents: Metropolitan Boston

examples from the North End; Back Bay/Beacon Hill (but standing in

Fenway); Dorchester; and South Boston/Dorchester.

28. Wolfram: it is easier to decide which dialects are 'better' than

those which are 'worse'; 'better' depends on social stereotypes: we

tend to think of urban as better than rural, EA better than AA,

educated better than uneducated, middle class better than lower

class, etc. If one belongs to a stigmatized group, one's speech also

becomes stigmatized. If one speaks a dialect, one's professional

performance must be better.

29. "Three ways of speaking: Cultured, white trash ('uneducated') &

Black" "Let's don't let no stump knock no hole in the bottom of this

here boat"

30. "Once you learn how the social system works, you need to be at least

one cut above everyone you're competing with"

31. New Orleans (EA) females on style-shifting. "Look at them beautiful

girls. If they'd keep their mouths shut, they'd be perfect."

32. Upper-crust dialects stand out just as much as the blue collar ones;

Boston 'Brahmins' discussing Charles Dickens, etc.

33. Boston North Enders (Italian-American) revel in the way they speak,

and often intentionally 'overdo' it. "Chris fucked up big time ...

He took a piss test." Philip exploits North End vernacular: "The

women, they eat it up, [and the guys] You can intimidate people with

your verbal actions." But the dialect is only effective locally;

when his brothers went to college the way they spoke was a liability;

now, back home, they cringe to hear Philip speak.

34. Group solidarity function of American Black English. Educator Norma

Stokes says the American public has not accepted Black English the

same way it has accepted different varieties of white American


35. Dilemma of whether Blacks should use Black English or standard

English (and then be regarded as 'outsiders') (1) "I don't want my

boys sounding like white males." (2) "She a school girl instead of a

mama girl."

36. Black vernacular only effective 'on the corner with your brothers'.

Dialect is 'political' for group identification, but also


37. Renewal of pride in regional dialects, often exploited in advertising

("Foat Wuth ah luv yew", "I luv Louavull"). We feel a special bond

with people who speak the way we do. Many of us use one dialect for

work and another for home and social life.

38. Frederic Cassidy (editor, DARE [Dictionary of American Regional

English] on dialect leveling -- local dialects won't change unless

they prevent or 'spoil' comprehension/communication. We'll never all

speak the same way.

39. Attitudes towards varieties; 'why should I change'? Recap of

regional dialects in film's closing credits.


John D. Hopkins (Hopkins[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE] FAX +358-31-2157200

University of Tampere, Finland Phone +358-31-2156116, or -3460345