Subject: Re: American (was Re: Cants)
|From:||Thomas R. Wier <trwier@...>|
|Date:||Thursday, December 18, 2003, 5:24|
From: Gary Shannon <fiziwig@...>
> "Thomas R. Wier" <trwier@...> wrote:
> > If you're going to point to real instances
> > of geographic change in the US, the place to look is
> > the vowel-shifts underway in the Northern and Southern US.
> > Both are chain-shifts, but are proceeding in the *opposite*
> > direction. We won't really know for several centuries whether
> > this actually causes a geographical divergence in dialects.
> I would think that mass media and the increasing use
> of audio chatting over the Internet would have a
> strong tendancy to blur, or even eventually erase
> regional differences.
This is very frequently alleged, but there is in fact precious
little evidence that suggests this, and much that suggests
the opposite. In a number of widely cited studies of urban
dialects of Philadelphia (a city in the midst of a Great-Vowel-
Shift-like sound change), William Labov found that change seemed
to radiate outwards from locally prestigious personalities such
as local neighborhood and elected officials, and that different
neighborhoods may well undergo different shifts or the same
shift at different times depending on the behavior of these
> Since the present communication environment is
> unprecidented in all of history and pre-history it's
> likely that the only thing that can be safely said is
> that we have no idea whatsoever what the liguistic map
> will look like in a few hundred years.
It is surely true that we cannot say for certain what effect
TV will have on the remote future, but that is in fact the
*norm* in social-sciences. Surely the more conservative
stance is the uniformitarian one that the present tends to
have the same kinds of processes as the past?
Thomas Wier "I find it useful to meet my subjects personally,
Dept. of Linguistics because our secret police don't get it right
University of Chicago half the time." -- octogenarian Sheikh Zayed of
1010 E. 59th Street Abu Dhabi, to a French reporter.
Chicago, IL 60637