Principled Comparative Method

Rick Mc Callister rmccalli at sunmuw1.MUW.Edu
Wed Aug 4 14:25:20 UTC 1999

	This may be because, as a whole --among white speakers, Southern
accents seem to be in the process of being replaced by something resembling
general American English with a slight Southern intonation. After living in
the South for most of the last 20 years I generally find that only aout 5%
or 10% of white students speak with a Southern accent but I don'tThose that
do tend to be religious fundalmentalists from rural or small town working
class backgrounds. Among my relatives in Appalachia, most do not have the
traditional accent.
	I lived for a while in Spartanburg, South Carolina where about 5 or
10% of my students (mainly from just north of there) said /U/ > /u/ (that
is "bush" pronounced as "boosh") but only about half said /I/ > /i/ ("fit"
pronounced as "feet").
	The lack of symmetry may be due to instability of the local accent.


>	In any case, I'd be really careful in assuming that phonological
>rules always apply across entire classes of categories.  It's true that
>things often do work this way, but they don't always.
>	Around 12 years ago, I was interviewing a speaker of the South
>Midlands dialect area of American English.  In this dialect, /I/ > /i/ for
>some speakers, and /U/ > /u/ for some speakers.  I assumed that if the
>speaker had one rule, she'd have the other as well; I figured that the
>general rule was "high lax vowels become tense".  To my great surprise,
>she had the second rule but not the first.  There was no denying what I
>was hearing; my assumptions about the expected symmetry within the system
>were just plain wrong.


Rick Mc Callister
Mississippi University for Women
Columbus MS 39701

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