learning to speak "standard"

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Feb 28 15:30:29 UTC 2008

Motivation is a tricky thing, as we know from the earliest sociolinguistic
studies (as well as from experience). Among adolescents, the choice can mean
that one opts for being (or is psychologically driven to being) a "lame" in the
classical Labovian sense. And there are things that are below the level of
consciousness, too.

When I was 17 and in high school in a town in the Midwest, I would no more
have uttered a spoken "He doesn't" or "Am I not?" than I would have worn a pink
shirt on Thursday. When I went to college and found role models other than my
working-class Iowa friends, I quickly dropped "He don't" and "Ain't I?" (and,
I suspect, began to moderate the strength of my /y/ off-glides and postvocalic
/r/'s). When I moved to North Carolina and joined the Duke faculty, I began
(judiciously) using multiple modals and "y'all" (and maybe the /y/'s and /r/'s
got even weaker). I was well into my 30s, though, before I realized that I use
a glottal stop instead of a nasal when the indefinite article before a vowel.
Still do, though probably anymore (!) I change to <an> in formal situations.
And I had to study linguistics to realize that positive anymore is a feature
of my speech.

Even if they have "mastered" "standard" pronunciation, very few southerners
who went to public high school in the South do not add a "to" after "have" in
sentences such as "Shall I have him to call you?" and "Totally without warning,
we had part of the ceiling to collapse on our heads."

In a message dated 2/27/08 10:53:07 PM, hwgray at GMAIL.COM writes:

> The claim that mastering standard English as a teenager is a struggle
> is the one that's unreal. All that's necessary is the motivation and
> the opportunity,

Ideas to please picky eaters. Watch video on AOL Living.


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

More information about the Ads-l mailing list