Date: Mon, 22 Nov 1993 16:08:00 EST From: "Dennis.Preston" <22709MGR[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]MSU.BITNET> Subject: Re: Diversity of accents I hope that Sali Mufwene is right and that the putative newspaper article on 'dialects' is a joke. If not, it perpetrates two of the silliest unprofessional notions around (ones my beginning undergraduate Language and Culture students could refute). 1) That linguistic change is instituted by the upper classes and then abandoned after lower status groups begin to sound like them. See any of the intensive socioinguistic work on change in the last three decades to show that all carefully studied change we are aware of beings in lower status groups and works its way up (unless it is noticed and clobbered, of course). 2) Careful studies (even of lexicon!), for example Ellen Johnson's recent dissertation from Georgia, show that dialect areas are just as differentiated today as thjey were when the were first studied in the 30's - quite a long time for the media to have had an effect - NOT. That they were never as distinct as some European dialects is granted, but that information is embedded in a popular rather than scientific view. (The reasoning bhind all this, of course, is that we learn our basic lanuage patterns (our 'vernacular' if you will) from interaction (peers, siblings, other family) not from talking heads on TV. I hope Sali is right; dialectology has a bad enough reputation among 'real' linguists. Dennis Preston <22709mgr[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]msu.bitnet>