Date: Fri, 20 Sep 1996 09:46:25 -0400
From: "Dennis R. Preston" preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]PILOT.MSU.EDU
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:
'Northern brogue' (referring to a large upper-midwestern and
'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
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
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
preston[AT SYMBOL GOES HERE]pilot.msu.edu