Work on regional variation in mass/count nouns?

Charles Doyle cdoyle at UGA.EDU
Mon May 14 16:47:39 UTC 2007

The part of Texas in which I grew up had a numerous populaton of 2nd- and 3rd-generation Germans. Occasionally a child would enter first grade knowing no English, and several of my schoolmates had parents who spoke only German.

Among the English speaking Texans of German descent, all the "Germanisms" mentioned here were characteristic features of the dialect: "a scissor" (also "a pant"--though that's used more widely now), "wash my hairs," "get some (or drink a bunch of) beers," etc.

I believe there have been studies of Texas German English, but I have no citations at hand.


---- Original message ----
>Date: Mon, 14 May 2007 10:57:09 -0500
>From: Joseph Salmons <jsalmons at WISC.EDU>
>Subject: Work on regional variation in mass/count nouns?

>A striking and even stereotyped feature of Upper Midwestern English
>is the use of what most of us have as count nouns as mass nouns and
>vice versa. Here in Madison 'a scissor' or 'a scissors' is utterly
>common, while 'going to wash my hairs' is a stereotype of Milwaukee,
>but actually used. (These two are often regarded as Germanisms, a
>possibility noted in DARE, for example.) There appear to be some
>other regional differences -- like 'let's go have a beer' vs. 'let's
>go have some beers' -- where the latter is the norm here (and in the
>East?), but only the former was familiar to me growing up in the South.
>In looking around for literature on this, I haven't found anything
>that treats such differences generally as a regional pattern. DARE
>has a few mentions for particular entries, but only a really brief
>note in the intro about it. In the ads-l archives, folks touch on
>this occasionally for particular words, but I don't see much broader
>discussion there either. Arnold Zwicky's handout on "Counting Chad"
>gives examples along the way to providing what looks like the best
>account of what's going on linguistically with this, but naturally
>doesn't focus systematically on regional differences.
>Surely there's more out there in the published lit, right? And surely
>folks have lots of examples of this, right?
>Thanks for any suggestions,

The American Dialect Society -

More information about the Ads-l mailing list