Date: Tue, 20 Jun 1995 09:44:55 -0400

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

Subject: Re: Maps

I am not aware of any recent attempts to draw a New York City dialect

area. Carver's 1987 *American Regional Dialects* (with DARE evidence from

the 70s) doesn't do it, but does mention Metro New York in several places.

Labov has treated New York as a dialect in his work on modern urban sound

change (his *Principles of Linguistic Change*, Blackwell 1994, will give

pretty comprehensive references). Aside from those two, studies I know

come from before the 1960s.

Whether or not Bayonne, NJ, belongs to a putative NYC dialect or not

seems to me to ask for sharp boundaries where none are to be expected.

The entire NYC-Philadelphia corridor seems to be pretty heavily populated

with people who work in either NYC or Philadelphia, so one might expect

heavy influences from the big cities throughout the region (of course

more influences the closer one is to either city).

The expectation that any nameable community has its own speech is quite

natural, and probably demonstrable if it were possible to do an intensive

study of each such place. However, as soon as we get to comparisons

between places, we are in the realm of frequencies, of how much one place

resembles or differs from another within the larger category of American

English, or within the even larger category of English speakers. The

notion that different places are really separate from each other within

such a broader context is a chimera. We believe that separately nameable

places should have "different" speech, but the belief does not make it so.

Certainly there will be some differences in the frequency of certain

linguistic characteristics, and there may even be some rare qualitatively

distinguishing features---but these don't make for good boundaries.

Regards, Bill


Bill Kretzschmar Phone: 706-542-2246

Dept. of English FAX: 706-542-2181

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

Athens, GA 30602-6205 Bitnet: wakjengl[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]uga