Dennis R. Preston preston at PILOT.MSU.EDU
Wed Sep 10 18:06:10 UTC 2003

My point is that "sez" does not reflect pronunciation at all in the
influence it has on the reader. Even though the speaker says "sez,"
the "respelling" causes the reader to think that the speaker being
represented by the respelling is dull, uneducated, back-woodsish,
etc..... So eye-dialect (still 'traditionally') is defined as a
respelling which DOES NOT reflect any pronunciation different from
one suggested by the "standard" spelling. I am sure the idea that an
uneducated speaker might use such a spelling may play some part in
the association.


>On Wed, 10 Sep 2003, Dennis R. Preston wrote:
>#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).
>Not to disagree with your intention, but with the way you've expressed
>it: "sez" certainly does reflect pronunciation, and better than the
>standard spelling "says" does -- i.e., hewing more closely to the
>regularities of English spelling, in a way that a poorly educated native
>speaker might produce. Would you say that THAT is what defines
>-- Mark A. Mandel

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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