Date: Fri, 14 Jul 1995 09:20:56 -0400

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

Subject: Re: oj trial

Sali Mufwene's objection to the putative greater competence of native

speakers to discriminate dialects is well taken. There is nothing to

prevent anybody, native speaker or not, from learning about different

dialects in a language. I would still say that, on average, someone who

has missed out on growing up in a place is much more likely to not to

command the kind of acculturation to that place that is necessary to

discriminate dialects accurately. Studies, e.g. by Jack Chambers in

*Language* and Payne in the Penn group, suggest that even people who move

to a new place at a young age do not fully command the linguistic variants

of the place as the natives do; it is the second generation before such

full acculturation takes place. The studies are of production, but I bet

perception would not be far different. And of course my earlier point

was probabilistic---we are dealing with likelihood, more and less, not

rationalist absolutes---and I think that probability is also the issue in

Kaye's comments. If I had been more cautious, I would have said that the

OJ witness who is obviously not a native speaker of American English

(from his own accent) would be much less likely to make accurate

observations about American English dialects than a native speaker of

American English, though of course such a witness *might* make accurate

observations and native speakers *might well* make inaccurate ones. As

Einstein says, it's all relative (just as murder is very often by

relatives, a family matter).

Regards, Bill


Bill Kretzschmar Phone: 706-542-2246

Dept. of English (Park 317) FAX: 706-542-2181

University of Georgia Internet: billk[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Athens, GA 30602-6205 Atlas Web Page: