Heard on The Judges: localisms

RonButters at AOL.COM RonButters at AOL.COM
Thu Jan 22 19:01:19 UTC 2009

I'm pretty sure that this is a feature of rural speech in areas of the upper 
South among whites as well.

In a message dated 1/22/09 1:46:53 PM, bgzimmer at BABEL.LING.UPENN.EDU writes:

> On Thu, Jan 22, 2009 at 12:35 PM, Wilson Gray <hwgray at gmail.com> wrote:
> >
> > Twenty-year-old black youth from Houston:
> >
> > "Yes, your honor. That's why I come out her (i.e. 'here')."
> >
> > ("Local" in the sense that, AFAIK, this shift of -air, -ear, -ere,
> > etc. to [-^r] is, so far, peculiar to BE and, again, AFAIK, it began
> > in Saint Louis about fifteen years ago and was spread around by such
> > Saint Louis hip-hoppers as Nelly, Li'l John, Chingy, et al. One of my
> > favorite songs has the eye-dialect title, I'm Hurr, I'm Thurr, I'm
> > Errwhurr. I assume that initial err- is influenced by "er(r)," the
> > standard spelling of onomatopoetic [^(r)].)
> At the ADS annual meeting, Cara Shousterman of NYU presented a paper
> on the 'urr' variable, suggesting a historical distribution not
> limited to the St. Louis region (though StL has certainly become the
> culturally salient "home" to the variable in the hiphop era). Here's
> the abstract:
> ---
> http://www.americandialect.org/American-Dialect-Society-2009-Meeting-Abstract
> s.pdf
> Cara Shousterman (New York University)
> Diachrony and AAE: sound change outside of the mainstream
> This is a diachronic study of what is known as the 'urr' variable,
> whereby in some African American communities front vowels centralize
> when followed by /r/. For example, the words here and hair can merge
> with her, and are spelled in popular
> references as "hurr" or "herre". Results indicate that the 'urr'
> variable is a fairly recent innovation in AAE spoken in DC, Maryland,
> St. Louis, and Memphis. This shows that not only are there regional
> differences in AAE, but also that African Americans are participating
> in sound changes separate from those found in "mainstream" European
> American dialects.
> ---
> Shousterman and some fellow NYUers also presented an LSA paper (which
> I missed) covering more recent developments in the spread of the
> variable to other AAE dialects via Nelly et al.:
> ---
> Renée Blake (New York University), Sonya Fix (New York University),
> Cara Shousterman (New York University): Vowel centralization before
> /r/ in two AAE dialects: A case of regional variation
> ---
> Not sure where Houston fits into this.
> --Ben Zimmer
> ------------------------------------------------------------
> The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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