Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 09:46:25 -0400

From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU

Subject: Brogue

Here is the (empirical) story about 'brogue' as a regional identifier (at

least from five regions):

In a task in which respondents were asked to 'draw in and label' the

'speech regions' of the US, fifty such hand-drawn maps were selected for an

analysis of the labels themselves (except from Hawaii, where only 35 such

maps were available for study).

1. For southeastern Michigan respondents, out of 344 such labels, the word

'brogue' was not used at all.

2. For southern Indiana respondents, out of 225 labels, the word 'brogue'

was used four times, as follows:

'Boston Brogue'

'Northern brogue' (referring to a large upper-midwestern and

northeastern area)

'Northern brouge' [sic] (referring to the same area)

'Brogue' (referring to Texas)

3. For South Carolina respondents, out of 348 labels, the word 'brogue' was

used once, as follows:

'Western Broague' (referring to the entire large area west of the

Mississippi river)

4. For Oregon respondents, out of 319 labels, the work 'brogue' was used

once, as follows:

'Thick Brogue' (referring to a generally northeastern area, including

New England)

5. For Hawaii repondents (total number of labels not counted), the word

'brogue was never used.

First, although the use of 'brogue' for the West and for Texas may seem

odd, the majority of uses are for the northeast and/or Boston ('focal' New

England). That that identifiation may have 'Irish' overtones for some

respodnents might indeed be the case.

Second, it would appear that the term 'brogue' is seldom used as a 'variety

descriptor' in the folk identification of speech areas. This, of course,

does not address use in other areas nor uses which might single out ethnic

and/or class varieties since the research reported on here refers more

generally to regional distribution (although nonregional 'facts' [e.g.,

relative 'correctness'] are often used by these respondents in their


It is not the case, however, that such labels are rare. 16% of the Michigan

labels, 9% of the Indiana labels, 26% of the South Carolina labels, and

18.5% of the Oregon labels are such language variety descriptors. (We do

not have quantitative results for Hawaii, but 'pidgin' [various spellings!]

is a very common identifier for the local post-creole variety, and I have

no doubt that the percentage of such labels for the Hawaii repondents would

be as high or higher than that for the South Carolina data.)

Come to NWAV in Las Vegas and hear Laura Hartley and me give a full report

on this label study.


Dennis R. Preston

Department of Linguistics and Languages

Michigan State University

East Lansing MI 48824-1027 USA


Office: (517)432-1235

Fax: (517)432-2736