Standard US English Dialect?

Dennis Preston preston at MSU.EDU
Tue Apr 15 05:41:20 UTC 2008

Indeed. I have three nephews who grew up right on the Bethesda border
with DC. WI mother and CA father. They were distinct from both (no
NCS; no low-back merger) but otherwise unremarkable. Odd I never
thought much about them. Plenty of tapes of the little buggers (now
full-grown); maybe I'll give an ear (well, a machine).


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>Subject:      Standard US English Dialect?
>DC is also such a mixing bowl that one tends to get a lot of leveling, right?
>Particularly in the suburbs. Over the years, when I couldn't place a white
>Duke student's accent, I would guess "DC suburbs" and very often got it right.
>(African American and even Asian students were generally much more
>difficult to
>place, for a variety of sociolinguistic reasons.) Of course, Duke has a lot
>of students from the DC suburbs, but Duke also gets a lot of students from
>suburban Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, etc.
>In a message dated 4/14/08 11:45:24 AM, preston at MSU.EDU writes:
>>  Yes, DC always does surprisingly well, but the East Coaster the South
>>  is the better it does as well. SC higher than GA, GA higher than AL,
>>  etc....We actually have some qualitative evidence for this; some of
>>  the fieldworkers asked respondents why they ranked the DC area so
>>  high, and many said that they figured good English was spoke in the
>>  capital. This seemed truer of southern and south midland respondents
>>  than of northern ones (who know they speak the best English).
>>  dInIs
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Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of English
Morrill Hall 15-C
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48864 USA

The American Dialect Society -

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