Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Sep 10 12:02:38 UTC 2003

We did this before, but I remind y'all that these examples below
cannot be eye-dialect (in the strict sense). "Eye-dialect" refers to
spellings which do NOT reflect pronunciation, e.g., "sez" for "says."
Nearly everyone says "sez," so the eye-dialect respelling is one
which has nothing to do with phonetic reality; it is used to mark the
speaker as boorish, nonstandard, ignorant, etc.... (I provided
quantitative evidence for these evaluations in an article in AS some
years ago (The Li'l Abner syndrome. American Speech 60,4:328-36).

I note, however, that "eye-diaelct" has increasingly come to mean
"spellings which reflect dialect." I ain't against language change,
but we appear to be in the midst of it here with a chance for real

In the AS article mentioned above I used the neutral term
"respellings" to refer to both.

Several interesting studies of respellings appear in a recent special
issue of JofS (Journal of Sociolinguistics 4,4:614-21).

dInIs (not "eye-dialect" in the strict [older? obsolescent?] sense)

I suppose "innit" = "isn't it", "donit" = "don't it", "dunnit" = "doesn't
it", "wunnit" = "wasn't it", etc. are often just "eye-dialect". These
pronunciations seem pretty widespread. "Enit" might be "ain't it"? I
suppose these pronunciations occur unstressed usually ... I wouldn't expect
"That innit!" for "That isn't it!" ... and especially in 'question tags'
(e.g., "This Welsh roti's good, innit?").

-- Doug Wilson

Dennis R. Preston
University Distinguished Professor
Department of Linguistics & Germanic, Slavic,
      Asian & African Languages
Michigan State University
East Lansing, MI 48824-1027
e-mail: preston at msu.edu
phone: (517) 432-3099

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