Standard US English Dialect?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 15 13:41:32 UTC 2008

At 3:43 AM -0400 4/15/08, Paul Johnston wrote:
>Do you get some localized features like /o/- and /u/-fronting with
>those DC suburbanites?

What sort of words are you thinking about with these features?  I can
do some field research if I know what to look for.


>It's quite pronounced in both MD (including
>Balmer and ITS suburbs) and VA, and seems to go up the social scale a
>fair bit, especially among female speakers.
>On Apr 15, 2008, at 1:41 AM, Dennis Preston wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Dennis Preston <preston at MSU.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: Standard US English Dialect?
>>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).
>>>---------------------- 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
>>>>  is the better it does as well. SC higher than GA, GA higher than
>>>>  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
>>>>  than of northern ones (who know they speak the best English).
>>>>  dInIs
>>>It's Tax Time! Get tips, forms and advice on AOL Money &
>>>       (
>>>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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