Date: Wed, 11 Sep 1996 18:42:09 -0500

From: "Salikoko S. Mufwene" s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]UCHICAGO.EDU

Subject: Re: Southern accent -Reply

Mary B. Ziegler assures us that the "Southern accent" is not dying out

and will not. Maybe so -- I'll grant it for the sake of argument -- but... Here

we have the same question being asked by different people in the same

time frame. Evidently the IMPRESSION exists, at least for some, that the

Southern accent is melting into a generalized American speech pattern.

This prompts me to ask a metaquestion: What is causing this impression?

Mark A. Mandel : mark[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

Just as you say: it is an IMPRESSION, not the facts, even if it was

shared by everybody. I once characterized this kind of inquiry in

linguistics as "wishful and hypermetropic." (Please don't take it

personally.) Most of the people who perpetuate that impression don't even

have a reference point for diachronic comparison. Mary Zeigler just gave a

very good set of reasons to falsify the myth. The situation is even more

complex, starting from the fact that Southern English is no more socially

homogeneous than any other dialect. Not all of that variation necessarily

reflects/entails change.



Salikoko S. Mufwene s-mufwene[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]

University of Chicago 312-702-8531; FAX 312-702-9861

Department of Linguistics

1010 East 59th Street

Chicago, IL 60637