Southern English

Jonathan Lighter wuxxmupp2000 at YAHOO.COM
Thu Nov 24 15:39:27 UTC 2005

The trouble with "Georgian" is that

  1. by about 1800 a new synthesis of British dialects would have occurred in the mountains

  2. there have been more chnages since then

  3. most people would undoubtedly think that meant Appalachian speech started in Georgia (whose mountains weren't settled till well after after the War of 1812).

  It wouldn't hurt to mention again that the popular notion of the Scots-Irish as the predominant settlers and primary speech influence on the Southern Appalachians is a myth. Their influence was roughly calculated a hundred years ago on the basis of family names, a method which is obviously flawed, especially since the researcher blithely assigned any name found in Ulster (even if common elsewhere in Britain) to a Scots-Irish family of settlers.

  There now appear to have been about as many English settlers as Scots-Irish, plus smaller numbers of Scots, Welsh, Germans, and French.


"James A. Landau" <JJJRLandau at AOL.COM> wrote:
  ---------------------- Information from the mail header -----------------------
Sender: American Dialect Society
Poster: "James A. Landau"
Subject: Re: Southern English

In a message dated Wed, 23 Nov 2005 21:36:56 -0500, Wilson Gray
_hwgray at GMAIL.COM_ (mailto:hwgray at GMAIL.COM)

James A. Landau writes

>"For a long time I thought it was not "ro DAY o"
>but rather "ro DALE".

I thought the same thing. It must be God's punishment for having the bad
luck to have learned English behind the Cotton Curtain.
While Kentucky is definitely a Southern state, I would hardly call it
"behind the Cotton Curtain". A cornpone-and-magnolia accent would stand out there
as much as would an Appalachian accent (both were about equally uncommon, in
my experience), and when I moved North people would ask "You're from
Kentucky? Where's your Southern accent?"

However, you bring up a good phonetic point. In my personal speech pattern,
there is very little difference between /l/ and /w/, e.g. people have heard
me say "wife" for "life" or vice versa. Is this typical for the Louisville
area speech? Or for Southern speech in general?

Asides: Ben Zimmer quoted "the "diversity of dialects" in the South, with
obligatory references to "Appalachian twangs" and "Elizabethan lilts"."

I too have heard the speech of the Appalachian mountaineers referred to as
Elizabethan. Considering that white settlement of the Appalachians did not
really begin until after the tenth year of the Seven Years War, the ancestors
of these mountaineers must have been in contact with the speech patterns of
England up through the mid-1700's, and therefore should not the Appalachian
dialect properly be called "Georgian"?

I asked my son (raised in New Jersey since age 2) how to pronounce "rodeo".
He said it was /RO dee o/, and /ro DAY o/ "is the street in California."

- James A. Landau

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