Date: Sun, 25 Jan 1998 02:14:39 -0600 From: Mike Salovesh Subject: Re: Survey help again--new participant sonja lanehart asked for help on a survey: > > We are about to pilot a survey on the attitudes and knowledge of pre- > service teachers about language variation. What I need this time is > for you to indicate if any of the sentences listed are plausible in > any variety of AMERICAN English. If the sentence is plausible, please > tell me which variety it is plausible in. If it is plausible in some > other global variety of English, please tell which variety. I've taken your 15 survey items and divided them into three groups: 1) Sentences that could occur naturally in MY speech. 2) Sentences that sound plausible, or at least possible, for some dialect(s) other than my own. 3) Sentences that don't sound like normal utterances in any dialect that is familiar to me. (I omit most of them, below.) --------------------------------------------------------------- I would say: > 4. At least he knew you have a phone. Possible context: as comment or reply after "He said he should have called me instead of waiting until he saw me, but . . . " > 8. 'thick' is pronounced like 'sick' That is, if by "like" you mean "rhymes with, but has a different initial consonant". If you mean EXACTLY like, I would call this a plausible utterance. I have heard similar things in foreign- accented speech from those whose first language doesn't use initial unvoiced "th". (Where is IPA when I need it?) Native speakers of German and related languages come to mind. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Sound plausible to me, in some dialect not my own. (I cite only those that closely resemble actual utterances I have heard, in "natural" speech.) > 3. He waiting for ten minutes before he left. Also plausible, same sentence without "for". Chicago Ebonics. > 11. I don't be eat that stuff. Implying, in book English: "I used to eat that stuff, but nowadays I don't." OR: "I have given that stuff up for now, but I might return to it later." Chicago, Georgia Ebonics. > 13. The principal in his office yesterday. > 15. He done sell all that. Here in the U.S., I'd find it plausible in Chicago Ebonics -- but I'd have to look to surrounding statements to decide whether the speaker was trying to convey "he sold all of those things he used to own" or, somewhat less likely, "he used to be in the business of selling all of those things". If I heard the same sentence in Caribbean English or in the so-called Creole of Nicaragua's Atlantic Coast, I'd think the second meaning more likely. -------------------------------------------------------------------- Not plausible as cited, with comment: > 2. Give me tens dollar. But "give me ten dollar" is plausible. I have heard it, in the form "gimme ten dollar", in New Orleans markets, at midwestern farm auctions, and in Chicago Ebonics. In face-to-face market settings where English was not the dominant language, I can attest to hearing "gimme ten dollar" in Japan and Korea, early 1950's; in Chicago's "Chinatown" many times over many years; and in Mexico and Guatemala, 1990's. > 7. 'pen' rhymes with 'bun' "pin" and "bin", yes -- or "when" and "glen", yes. I hear this as related to the "any, many, penny" set. In each of these words, I expect (or would accept as "plausible") that the first vowel will be a front vowel. Its placement ranges from mid-high to somewhere around mid-middle, depending on regional dialect. Rhyming 'pen' and 'bun' would lead me to expect to hear the same speaker rhyming 'any' with 'honey', 'many' with 'money', and so on. I don't think I've ever heard anything like that. > 9. 'thing' rhymes with 'bong' 'bang', or something close, yes. 'Eng' (as in Chang and Eng, the once-famous Siamese twins), yes. 'king', yes. But how would a speaker using the proposed thing-bong rhyme handle the contrast between 'thing' and 'thong'? > 10.'math' rhymes with 'cad' I would find an UNvoiced final stop consonant plausible, but not a voiced one: 'math' could rhyme with 'cat' but not with 'cad'. The following is by way of an introduction: Since I'm new to this list, I don't know if anyone here would have heard of Henry Lee Smith's old radio (and early TV) program, "Where are you from?" He would hand a card with twenty sets of diagnostic words printed on it, and would ask someone from his audience to read the card. He then would try to specify where in the U.S. the speaker had grown up, and promised to locate most people within fifty miles. (The only items I remember from the card are marry/merry/Mary and cot -- as opposed to dog and caught.) My normal speech is Midwestern Platform English. (That comes from childhood and early adult voice training and "elocution lessons" for both singing and acting.) When Haxey Smith tried to place me with his "Where are you from" 20 questions, I played the game honestly -- and he could only say that I came from somewhere in the middle Middle West, possibly including Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, northern Missouri, northern Indiana, or Michigan. There are some diagnostic items not on his list (including, e.g., my use of a specifically native pronunciation of "Chicago") that would give me away if the corpus of my speech under examination were fairly large. But my voice coaches were too good, and Smith's list is just too short, to make identification obvious in my normal speech. I got into anthropology through an interest in linguistics. My mentors were Norman McQuown, Eric P. Hamp, Raven McDavid, and Don Mauricio Swadesh. (I cite Swadesh in his Mexican persona because that's where I worked with him.) I also took linguistics courses from Joseph Greenberg, Sol Sapporta, Isidore Dyen, and Sidney Lamb. I had the benefit of three years of almost daily interchanges with George Trager when he took a post-retirement appointment here at NIU. Nowadays, I'm strictly an amateur in linguistics and dialectology. I am a social anthropologist, with focus on kinship/social organization, politics, social stratification, and intergroup (and interethnic) relations. My fieldwork areas are Mexico, Central America, and urban U.S. cultures. -- mike salovesh anthropology department northern illinois university PEACE !!!