24.4587, Diss: Anthro Ling, Socioling: Schoux Casey: 'Postvocalic /r/ in New Orleans ...'

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LINGUIST List: Vol-24-4587. Mon Nov 18 2013. ISSN: 1069 - 4875.

Subject: 24.4587, Diss: Anthro Ling, Socioling: Schoux Casey: 'Postvocalic /r/ in New Orleans ...'

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Date: Mon, 18 Nov 2013 10:07:51
From: Christina Schoux Casey [christinaschouxcasey at gmail.com]
Subject: Postvocalic /r/ in New Orleans: Language, place and commodification

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Institution: University of Pittsburgh 
Program: Department of Linguistics 
Dissertation Status: Completed 
Degree Date: 2013 

Author: Christina Schoux Casey

Dissertation Title: Postvocalic /r/ in New Orleans: Language, place and

Dissertation URL:  http://d-scholarship.pitt.edu/19611/

Linguistic Field(s): Anthropological Linguistics

Dissertation Director(s):
Scott Fabius Kiesling
Connie Eble
Barbara Johsntone

Dissertation Abstract:

>From silva dimes to po-boys, r-lessness has long been a conspicuous feature
of all dialects of New Orleans English. This dissertation presents a
quantitative and qualitative description of current rates of r-lessness in
the city. 71 speakers from 21 neighborhoods were interviewed.
R-pronunciation was elicited in four contexts: interview chat, Katrina
narratives, a reading passage and a word list. R-lessness was found in 39%
of possible instances. Older speakers pronounce /-r/ less than younger
speakers, and those with a high school education or less pronounce /-r/ far
less than those with post-secondary education. Race and gender did not
prove to be significant predictors of r-pronunciation. In contrast to past
studies, many speakers in the current study discuss their metalinguistic
awareness of /-r/ and their partial control of /-r/ variation, discussing
switching between r-fulness and r-lessness in different contexts. In New
Orleans, this metalinguistic awareness is attributable in part to the
devastation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the
near-disappearance of the city intensified an already extant nostalgia for
local culture, including ways of speaking. Nostalgia and amplification by
advertisers and popular media have helped recontextualize r-lessness as a
variable associated with a number of social meanings, including localness
and authenticity. These processes help transform r-lessness, for many
speakers, from a routine feature of talk to a floating cultural variable,
serving as a semiotic resource on which speakers can draw on to perform
localness. This dissertation both closes a gap in research on New Orleans
speech and uses New Orleans as a case study to suggest that the social
meanings of linguistic features are created and maintained in part by a
constellation of interrelated social processes of late modernity. Further,
I argue that individual speakers are increasingly agentively engaged with
these larger processes, as part of a global transformation from more
traditional, place-bound populations to more deracinated individuals who
choose to align themselves with particular communities and local cultural
forms, particularly those that have been commodified.

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