Date: Wed, 29 Oct 1997 22:02:53 -0500


Subject: "Hit" (was Appalacian [sic] languages)

Sam Jones was quite right in his reply to Lisa's query about the

Appalachian use of "hit" as a variable realization for the third person

singular neuter pronoun in English. "Hit" is the older form, and "it" is

an innovation from the earlier form.

The usage extends into the Appalachian areas of North Georgia. I also believe

it may persist in Ozark speech.

This example illustrates an intriguing phenomenon of language change. At

time T1, "hit" was the predominant form. At some later time T2, "hit"

competes with the new form "it." At a later time T3, "it" emerges as the

standard or prestige form. "Hit" persists in various speech

communities. The curiosity or quirk is that, at time T3, the

historically older form "hit" is reanalyzed by the larger speech

community as a degenerate form deviating from the standard.

What we see is that various rural regional dialects actually preserve older

forms of the language.

My question is, does the metathetical pronunciation of "ask"

characteristic of AAVE preserve an earlier form, or does it reflect a

contemporary performance transposition?

Virtually, Terry


Terry Lynn Irons t.irons[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

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