Date: Mon, 8 Jul 1996 15:33:45 -0400

From: Jesse T Sheidlower jester[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PANIX.COM

Subject: Semi-early "uptalk" citation

I encountered a passage which I thought could

be of interest to some ADS-L'ers. I'm not sure

who's doing research on "uptalk," but if anyone

knows someone, feel free to send this along.

I was recently reading John A. Williams' novel

_The Angry Ones,_ first published in 1960 although

written in the period 1956-60. Williams is a black

writer who became a professor of English at

Rutgers; this is his first novel. The passage

struck me because it seems rather early (although

Joan Hall of DARE tells me that the uptalk

phenomenon is well known as a Southernism for

some time); because the speaker is a man; and

because the "uptalk" is explicitly discussed in

the text.

This passage is chapter 15; it's found on page

118 of the 1996 Norton reprint of the book in

their Old School Books line. Both speakers in

this exchange are white men; the narrator is a

black man. The uptalking speaker is identified

as a farmer from the Mississippi Delta.

---------------- begin included text --------------

"Confidentially," he said, "it took all my

savings--and you know what happened the last time I

was here?"

"Yes?" Rollie said. He didn't bat an eyelash.

"I went to see my brother so I could go

ahead plannin' things for next year if I got some

money from him?"

Southerners have a way of making statments

sound like questions.

---------------- end included text ---------------

Hope this is useful/of interest.


Jesse Sheidlower

Random House Reference