Standard US English Dialect?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 15 13:37:59 UTC 2008

At 7:41 AM +0200 4/15/08, Dennis Preston wrote:
>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).

Supportive evidence here, in the form of my own two nieces, now 23
and 20, who grew up in Bethesda, with a NY (LI) father and MI
(Detroit suburbs) mother, who also speak with non-descript (to my
ear) current features.  (That is, the girls do; their parents still
have regionally integral speech characteristics.)  I'll listen too,
but they definitely lack anything as noticeable as my daughter (age
23)'s Connecticutisms (e.g. the glottalizing of intervocalic /t/ in
[kI?In], New [brI?In]).  The older niece and my daughter are now
neighbors in Williamsburg, Brooklyn; I'll check back periodically on
whether that ends up affecting their pronunciations but it's probably
too late to matter.


>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       RonButters at AOL.COM
>>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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>>The American Dialect Society -
>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 -

The American Dialect Society -

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