learning to speak "standard"

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Thu Feb 28 18:02:56 UTC 2008

I agree. During the course of our conversation, I have suddenly come
to realize that I still maintain the Southern three-way distinction
among Mary-merry-marry. Heretofore, I would have sworn that I had long
ago merged Mary-merry. In fact, I even doubted that I'd ever had the
Southern "May rih" [me:irI], since I never met anyone with that name
or even heard it, till we had moved North. Two white kids named
Lawrence and Rosemary lived next door.

[Saint Louis was a strange place. To a great extent, it was as rigidly
segregated as any Deep-Southern town - schools, hotels, movie theaters
(instead of having merely a separate section for colored, there were
entirely-separate buildings!), eateries of any kind whatsoever, the
Y's, Protestant churches, playgrounds, swimming pools, whites-only
jobs, even if white *women* had to be hired, as was the case During
The War, taxicabs, etc.

[But whites might live in the 'hood (busing was used to *maintain*
school segregation!) and blacks might live in the neighborhood, though
not many did, since there was no busing for black kids (one of the
reasons that I'm a Catholic is that The One True Faith maintained a
grade school and a high school for blacks in our neighborhood and was
likewise the only "white" organization to maintain both a church and a
school in the 'hood in Marshall, Texas.) Public transportation was
integrated, as were libraries, parks,  the regular police force (not
the mounted police or the park police), and the fire department.]

And don't forget that Thomas also went to Catholic schools, not public
schools, just as I did, and was more-or-less a practicing Catholic
till he decided to trade in his first wife for one of fairer hue.


On 2/28/08, RonButters at aol.com <RonButters at aol.com> wrote:
> ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
>  Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
>  Poster:       RonButters at AOL.COM
>  Subject:      learning to speak "standard"
>  -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
>  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,
>  >
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>  2050827?NCID=aolcmp00300000002598)
>  ------------------------------------------------------------
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