Phonological Variation and Change in the Dialect of Charleston, South Carolina

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2008-01-30
  • Publisher: Duke Univ Pr
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This volume, one of the most comprehensive studies of language change in any southern city, presents an in-depth examination of the linguistic patterns of the residents of Charleston, South Carolina, an area that claims one of the most distinctive dialects in American English. In the process of regionalization, Charleston has undergone a linguistic revolution unseen for any other dialect of English studied to date, in which the traditional dialect has been replaced with a very different type of linguistic system. The new system remains distinct from most other southern dialects. This study traces the retreat of the traditional features with a sample of one hundred speakers, aged eight to ninety, across social classes. The best-known features of the traditional dialect-a lack of distinction between /ihr/ and /ehr/, as in beer and bear, and ingliding and monophthongal long mid vowels /e:, o:/, as in take and goat-have now largely disappeared. Social class and age are important factors in the linguistics of the Charleston area. While some older Charlestonians still have the back and ingliding /ow/ vowel, as in goat and so, younger speakers, particularly those in the highest-status social group, show very advanced fronting of this vowel. This volume is organized chronologically, moving from traditional speech into the distinctively different linguistic style that has emerged.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. vii
Acknowledgmentsp. xiii
Phonetic Symbolsp. xv
Charleston: A Historical Overviewp. 1
The Traditional Dialectp. 9
The Traditional Dialectp. 9
The Speech of William McTeer as an Illustration of the Traditional Dialectp. 13
The Traditional Dialect and the Southern Shiftp. 25
Methodsp. 27
Retreat of the Traditional Featuresp. 46
Retreat of the Traditional Featuresp. 46
The Traditional Dialect and Gullahp. 73
Postvocalic /r/ in Charlestonp. 79
Nearly Completed Mergersp. 85
Merger of /ohr/ and /[characters not reproducible]hr/p. 85
Merger of /iw/ and /uw/p. 91
Merger of merry and Maryp. 98
Merger of /ihr/ and /ehr/p. 103
Mergers in Progressp. 124
The Low-Back Mergerp. 124
The PIN-PEN Mergerp. 132
Merger of merry and marryp. 141
Charleston and the Southern Shiftp. 149
/ay/-Monophthongizationp. 149
The Southern Shift beyond /ay/-Monophthongizationp. 159
The Fronting of Back Upgliding Vowelsp. 171
The Fronting of /uw/p. 171
The Fronting of /ow/p. 183
The Development of Nasal Systems for /[characters not reproducible]/ and /aw/p. 204
Development of a Nasal System for Short-ap. 204
Development of a Nasal System for /aw/p. 220
Charleston and Its Peoplep. 226
Conclusionsp. 242
Charleston Word Listp. 257
Notesp. 259
Referencesp. 263
Table of Contents provided by Ingram. All Rights Reserved.

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