Date: Wed, 24 Nov 1993 13:27:50 +22305606 From: "Ellen Johnson Faq. Filosofia y Hdes." Subject: diversity of accents sorry to jump into this discussion late, but I can't get onto the network every day to check the mail. I have to take exception to Dennis Preston's statement about my research findings, though I appreciate the citation.;-) I studied the effects of age, sex, race, region, rurality, and education on language variation and found that though region was the most important variable in my analysis of 1930s LAMSAS data, it was the least important one for the 1990 data. Regionally-defined dialect areas are still there, but I think they are becoming less distinct, at least for the lexicon. I don't have the figures on hand but I'll try to post them early next week for anyone who is interested. It is ironic to find my dissertation cited as part of the anti-media-influence position, since in it I actually took the admittedly unpopular stance of claiming a certain amount of influence from the media on ling. change. I don't limit this influence to TV and movies, but include the print media as well. Lexical acquisition differs from, e.g., acquisition of one's regional pronunciation, because we are continually learning and using new words throughout our lifetimes. Thus, the greatly increased amount of information available to people today, not just through the media, but also through public education (greatly improved since LAMSAS speakers went to school) has provided them with lots of opportunities to learn new words. This is reflected in my findings in two ways. The first is the size of the set of vocabulary items I collected compared to Guy Lowman (even though we averaged about the same number of responses per informant). The number of words in the sample increased almost 50% (again, figures to follow later). The second way I think TV, etc., makes a difference is in the amount of change linked to a particular social or regional group. By far the majority of the vocabulary changes that occurred between 1930 and 1990 were not cases of change led by any particular group. Lexical change influenced by the media could spread rapidly across the nation without regard for social class. See, for example, the Algeos' column on New Words in AmSpeech for words that have been encouraged by the media. Another example is the way the term 'African-American' suddenly became well-known once Jesse Jackson's speech was widely reported in the news, though in this case, the word was already in use by a certain group of speakers. Finally, change from above does occur, at least in the lexicon. You can read more about all this in a forthcoming article in Language Variation and Change. I'm really interested in all the responses, since I looked for citations for my dissertation from linguists refuting the myth that television would lead to homogeneity in Am. Eng. and it was hard to find this discussion in print anywhere. Ellen Johnson ejohnson[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]