[Ads-l] Yale Grammar listing

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Sun Jul 26 13:31:32 UTC 2015

> On Jul 26, 2015, at 5:23 AM, Tom Zurinskas <truespel at HOTMAIL.COM> wrote:
> https://urldefense.proofpoint.com/v2/url?u=http-3A__bit.ly_1IlzyU4&d=AwIFAw&c=-dg2m7zWuuDZ0MUcV7Sdqw&r=wFp3X4Mu39hB2bf13gtz0ZpW1TsSxPIWYiZRsMFFaLQ&m=PkrBcDcZnHQKQ-2_MBD-Pu9A9K1AvjbEnJqBSgVOQLE&s=QBVYbuQdUgzz6zooGWX6_yblpmAjpm9asADF7N_1vlI&e= 
> It says in SW Connecticut there is a lot of "a" prefixing (as in I'm a-going).  
> but I've never heard that phrasing there having grown up in Danbury Conn.
> The first time I heard it was "The times they are a-changin" by Bob Dylan

Hmm.  Our description of the construction at the above link, under "Who says this", reads as follows:

Studies of a-prefixing have focused on predominantly white speech communities. As such, it is unclear whether a-prefixing is present in varieties of speakers of other ethnicities. Within white speech communities, a-prefixing is found in Southern American White English (Stewart 1972; Hackenberg 1973; Wolfram & Christian 1976; Wolfram 1976; Feagin 1979; Wolfram  1988), most specifically in Alabama, West Virginia and east Tennessee. Feagin (1979, p.116) mentions attestations spread throughout the United States, starting as early as 1846 (taken from Atwood 1953, Allen 1975, Wentworth 1944) and points out that Wright (1898) noticed it in varieties spoken in Scotland, Ireland and parts of England. Montgomery (2009) argues that the origin of the a-prefix in Appalachian English arose from the speech of settlers from southern England.

In some varieties, the form is less common in the speech of younger individuals. A study conducted by Christian et al. (1988) found that a-prefixing in Ozark English is not present in the speech of individuals under 15 years old whereas in Appalachian English, a-prefixing is used by speakers of all ages.

Not sure how this says or implies that there's a lot of a-prefixing going on in SW Connecticut.   The map accessible from the link records one example of southern CT a-prefixing, from the by-laws of Yale University written in 1800 (cited in Corky Feagin's dissertation):

At some point we hope to include maps for the various phenomena reflecting our own survey results rather than just cites from the literature.  One example we posted recently is the map for "be done (with)", as in "I'm done my homework", at http://microsyntax.sites.yale.edu/done-my-homework


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

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