Standard US English Dialect?

Alice Faber faber at HASKINS.YALE.EDU
Sun Apr 13 16:59:55 UTC 2008

LanDi Liu wrote:
> On Sun, Apr 13, 2008 at 8:37 PM, Dennis Preston <preston at> wrote:
>> Well, we know a great deal about middle class (and working class)
>> pronunciation in New York City. William Labov's Social Stratification
>> of English in New York City (CAL, 1966) would be the first place to
>> look. The myth that different boroughs have different accents is hard
>> to do away with; it stems largely from the fact that different social
>> classes tend to live in different boroughs.
> In 1966, I would think that class and accent had a much greater
> relationship in NYC than now.

We Americans like to think that "class" isn't part of our social
stratification. However, if you look at the ways New Yorkers categorize
and judge people from a sociological perspective, the categories they
use certainly map to class in a reasonable way. They may categorize a
working class accent as "uneducated" or reflecting a lack of
industriousness on the part of the speaker. Or they may refer to "outer
borough" speech, or "bridge and tunnel people". It's not all that long
ago (certainly closer to now than to 1966) that the Saturday Night Live
"coffee talk" recurring sketch was so popular; this played on a
stereotypical feature of NYC speech.

Alice Faber                                       faber at
Haskins Laboratories                            tel: (203) 865-6163 x258
New Haven, CT 06511 USA                               fax (203) 865-8963

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