Work on regional variation in mass/count nouns?

Wilson Gray hwgray at GMAIL.COM
Mon May 14 18:40:35 UTC 2007

How come nobody ever mentions the Texas Czechs, whose best-known
representative is probably Sissy Spacek ([SpaCEkova] "Sparrow" in
Czech, which has fixed, word-initial main stress)?

More nearly OT, didn't Johannes Meusebach or some such person found a
German colony in Texas with its center at Fredericksburg?


On 5/14/07, Charles Doyle <cdoyle at> wrote:
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> Sender:       American Dialect Society <ADS-L at LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
> Poster:       Charles Doyle <cdoyle at UGA.EDU>
> Subject:      Re: Work on regional variation in mass/count nouns?
> -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
> 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.
> --Charlie
> _____________________________________________________________
> ---- 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,
> >Joe
> >
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