Standard US English Dialect?

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Apr 15 16:52:36 UTC 2008

At 12:14 PM -0400 4/15/08, Paul Johnston wrote:
>For /u/-the moon, spoon, boot, hoop, do, too group.  Possibly brewed,
>dude, new etc if there's no contrast between /u/ and /Iu~ju/.
>For /o/-the coat, road, cone, hope, poke, go, no, grow group.
>I'm from much farther north and natively lack fronting of both of
>these vowels before underlying (and often vocalized) /l/--in pool,
>school, stool; coal, stole, pole, but have some fronting otherwise.
>I don't know if MD has back vowels there or not.  If it does,
>behavior before /l/ would be a good test of whether you have Midland
>fronting or Valley Girl fronting, which is sew kewl, and fronts /u/
>before /l/.

That I'd have noticed.  I think there's socially conditioned aspects
to this as well--I can imagine some of my nieces' classmates having
Valley Girl "kewl" but not them.  (This gets into some of Penny
Eckert's stuff.)  I'm not sure about the /o/ of "coat" or the /u/ of
"moon", though.  I'll listen for it.


>There are probably lexically-conditioned phenomena too;
>I could conceive of cool having fronting and stool not having it, or
>even of cool= "good, in  fashion, etc." having it and cool = "sort of
>cold" not having it.
>On Apr 15, 2008, at 9:41 AM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>---------------------- Information from the mail header
>>Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>>Poster:       Laurence Horn <laurence.horn at YALE.EDU>
>>Subject:      Re: Standard US English Dialect?
>>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
>>>>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 -
>>The American Dialect Society -
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