isoglosses for hw/w

David A. Daniel dad at POKERWIZ.COM
Tue Jan 29 16:13:57 UTC 2008

I don't have it here, but doesn't the ANAE data show an island of fairly
strongly "Southern" features clustered in and around Bakersfield,
California? I know I've heard (from linguists and non-linguists) who've
noticed the "Southern"-ness of the are that this might be a result of
the massive Okie migration to the area during the Dust Bowl, but i have
no idea if that's a reasonable explanation.

Dustbowl is not the explanation for Bakersfield. The explanation is:
American English is the only language I know of the users of which dumb down
their usage and pronunciation to sound like cowboys. Half the people in
Texas (as being generic cowboy-land) don't have to talk/sound like they do,
they WANT to talk/sound like they do. I had an uncle who moved from LA to
Phoenix some years back. Within a year he was wearing cowboy hats, cowboy
boots and all of a sudden he ain't never got nothin' nohow on no account.
There's a lady C/W singer (can't remember her name at the moment) who was on
Larry King talking and sounding like she was from Massachusetts, which she
was. She got up to sing, and all of a sudden she's twangin' away like a good
ole girl. I play golf with a couple from Houston, both of whom have master's
degrees and are (fairly) well spoken, unless other Texans show up. Then
suddenly they forget they ever heard of a past participle. Bakersfield is
part of this phenomenon. I grew up in Los Angeles and knew all sorts of
people who turned into linguistic cowboys when they crossed the Bakersfield
city limits. Sort of like people from New England families who went to
Andover and Yale but then needed to fit in as Suthun... I've always been
fascinated by Americans' tendency to try to be cool by talkin' cowboy; it is
one of the things that got me interested in language in the first place.

David Bowie                               University of Central Florida
     Jeanne's Two Laws of Chocolate: If there is no chocolate in the
     house, there is too little; some must be purchased. If there is
     chocolate in the house, there is too much; it must be consumed.

The American Dialect Society -

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