isoglosses for hw/w

Laurence Horn laurence.horn at YALE.EDU
Tue Jan 29 16:45:22 UTC 2008

At 2:13 PM -0200 1/29/08, David A. Daniel wrote:
>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.
Not that surprising, especially among male speakers--cf. Trudgill's
classic paper on "covert prestige".  I'd expect a considerable degree
of sex-based variation on this in the U.S., just as Trudgill found in
his Norwich study.


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