non-inverting wh-questions in New Orleans

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Fri Apr 13 04:11:35 UTC 2001

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Date:  Thu, 12 Apr 2001 15:08:41 -0400
From:  Jennifer H Mittelstaedt <jhmittel at>
Subject:  Wh-questions in New Orleans English

I'm currently looking at the apparent lack of Subject-Aux Inversion (SAI)
in (some) wh-questions for a variety of New Orleans English.  For
example, the following sentences are perfectly acceptable for this
Who that is?  (cf. Who is that?)
What time it is? (cf. What time is it?)

I have two questions:
a) Can anyone tell me anything about the geographic/demographic scope of
this variety?  I have heard that this is largely an African American
variety spoken in New Orleans and possibly Baton Rouge, but would be
grateful for any further information.
b) Is anyone aware of any work on this variety and/or other varieties of
English which may lack SAI in certain constructions?  Any input or
citations would be heartily appreciated!

Thanks very much for your time,
Jenny Mittelstaedt
jhm3 at

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