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New aspects of language using a language is so much a part of our everyday lives that we do not realize just how complex an activity it is. Linguistics is the science responsible for investigating this activity. We take so much for granted during this series. Some of the tools and methods used by linguists to study the complexities of language are demonstrated. The series is prepared and narrated by Dr. Frankel an associate professor of English and Linguistics at George Peabody college for teachers today. Raven McDavid professor of English at the University of Chicago and editor of the American Dialect Atlas joins Dr. Franco to talk about urban dialect. Let's make a day of it. You are the editor of the American Dialect address and the right of President of the batiks
aside to threats and you're an expert in urban dialects and I will not show how I am an ex or not. South Carolina we defined an expert as a Don food a thousand miles from home. Well at least I would like to ask you the following question. If you speak about urban dialects that in contradistinction to rural dialects is it meant regionally. Well. Every community has its set of dialectics small communities have them larger communities have. The bigger the community the more chances you are having a wide variety. But of course the social part of you in every community. Some people recognize that using the language better than others. And what you. Have to do to study community is to get an adequate cross-section of the kinds of people that make up
the speech. Ah the community. Which means you have to operate in two directions both vertically and while I was regionally and social I mean in what I had said anything about regional dialects but I was saying that once you decide you're going to study the speech of a community you try to find out as many social differences as there are in the community and to find speakers who typify the various social groups. Of course in some countries is the United States happens to be one. You have a good deal of migration from one region to another and in a given community there may be an interlocking of both regional and social types of speech. I know that linguists have been trying for years to distinguish between dialects and language. Can you help us.
Well dialect is the way everybody uses a language but me I don't use. But me and the people I grew up with. Yes you use that the standard language and everybody else speaks it out. Yes and yes this is this is the way they have. This is at least one. Kind of notion people have that. I like. I like the Texas woman. Who was so pleased when Lyndon Johnson got in the White House. It's the first time we've had a president who didn't have a dialect. Yes you can decide that the bulk of the costs of you speak more seriously of the dialect as an a habitual form of a language any form of a language you pick up in normal associations with human beings as as a child growing up in a particular community. And this particular variety is regional also
schol and most often both. And it is my particular variety of a nation is something like upper middle class Greenville South Carolina. Now this means this is distinguished from all the other social dialects used in Greenville South Carolina. The recent immigrants from the heels of the third race in the cotton nails you know in South Carolina we used to speak and not altogether in jest of such towns as containing three races white people colored people in cotton mill workers. I think it was the cotton mill workers were just as segregated from the town life as in It goes where from heights. I use them saying that you're a closet thousand get on a speech would have more in common with that say upper class North Carolina speech than with the lower class people of your own area Well I would say the particular upper middle
class and. A variety of speech which I happen to pick up because I happen to live over there and a good part of town happen to go to a good school and yet somehow the people that I played with as a child all of them happen to be of business from professional backgrounds. This would have more in common perhaps with the speech of others. Southern community is if you talk to the same type of speak the upland Southern communities then it would have in common with the speech of the cotton mill workers the poor whites in town. It would it would also probably have a much more in common with the speech of the better
educated are better positioned negroes the ones whose economic ties had been for generations with the upper middle class whites in town then it would have with the cotton mill workers all the poor whites in the country I think this happens to be one of the facts. But on the other hand it wouldn't have very much in common with any of the social variety of speech that was used in the Lowcountry of South Carolina. I wouldn't have as much in common with anybody rock you socially of speech that was used in the mountains of North Carolina because. There's one major dialect boundary between Greenville and the coast somewhere in the neighborhood of Columbia. Another major dialect boundary not too fond
off between the upper Piedmont and the mountain varieties of speech and you can get over some vivid example of these varieties. Well now I can do this and. I hope the audience will pardon any faking I have to do. Well for instance I would would say speaking in my own variety of speech we all have a late date tonight and go out on the boat and ride around the battery and throw brickbats the battleships. Now in the Chalcedon aeons according to our star I would say we'll have a lead at DIA at either tonight and go out on the boat and all you know round the doctor and throw brickbats at the bottle ships. Of the Eastern Virginian would go out tonight and ride around
and the mountain Alan would say we'll go out there and ride around. There would be various. The kinds of distinctions in the pronunciation of the how would you describe the features a little for people not to familiar with the. Well I would not for instance in the diff thong I say. I would have thought I would say tonight but ride if there isn't for that. The following concert. Oh yes the following concert but it doesn't quite match up because I would also say tag now and when n follows you'd say the rind of a watermelon. Yeah but a pint sold at the end apparently doesn't count at all. Now the Chalcedon young. Has a kind of alternation
right. But ride and he would say. But around that tense business lay Well again that's a show of defiance will glide is a more central beginning before the voiceless consonants in both a they and Knight and and you have to have a longer glide and a lot of beginning of a for the boys concert series. I would Sounds to me almost like some of my friends from Canada. Yeah well this is one of the funny things about American English. They happen to be three dialect regions in the western hemisphere that we know of that maybe others will turn up. There is an alternation between the deaf songs and according to
the kind of consonant that follows as a candidate will say knife and knives and out and loud. The East and the genuine will say a knife and knives and loud in the chalcedony will be something like. Naïf NRI and I wrote and allowed this feature would tip if I was really very differently. Yes but according to the data I have been able to dig out of the linguistic survey of angling this kind of alternation does not seem to occur in any of the dialects of the British Isles that is arisen independently in three different areas in the New World. Is that one of the few features which have arisen independently. Well I can think of one or two of those well-known
so-called Brooklyn death on the Facebook movie if of course that it is not just Brooklyn in New York City among the older people even of the better educated you had actually that they and falling together saw that I have known. Very. Fine people of good families in New York for whom a coil of hay on a coil of rope. Well how many of anything though and. Waste and but as distinct from the ore I and boy had the proper name here. It is still her among a few new off in the format that we mentioned is not heard anymore. Well I think that it is still that well the amount of me falling
together current and call it is still heard but it's low class. A New York speech so this is would that also be a socialism to almost anyone out how about other regional distributions as well. Are we getting somewhere on South Carolina and Georgia. You begin to hear it throughout the plantation region. It's quite common in New Orleans. It seems to occur in the plantation areas along the Mississippi in matches in Vicksburg and Greenville Miss. It comes up the Tennessee Valley. I have heard it. Oh I should say at what he did. As far as Athens Alabama and although I haven't specifically documented it from the native Nashville eons I've been told that it does have some lodgment in the
Cumberland Valley as well as in the Tennessee Valley. It wouldn't surprise me at all if and if it did it now. This type of early. Reflex. Historical earth which is also a reflex of various combinations of English vowels Plus R does not seem to have any. Current anywhere in Britain cos the last of our in the folk speech of Britain is primarily a feature of Metropolitan London though not necessarily western suburbs and East Anglia as between the Thames and this indentation the authors referred to as the wash west of England they still pronounce it an even stronger r than. Saw the most fine grading on a house when they go to the Middle West. They're
now out in the are losing area in England. We don't find any but East but they are anything of this kind. What's happened there. Well as in years or something like that I asked and and so on. Of course as distinguished from bus stop and hour Biden. And the life they have. The fact is that we've had a development and the new are all taking place and at least two diverse areas that is different from anything you find in the British Isles. All it will take. Something out of the grammatical system in American English
to leave the area of New England settlement Hudson Valley of the past tense of dive is likely to be Dolby dome into the pool. This also shows up how sporadically along Chesapeake Bay and to a considerable extent in South Carolina. I think that happens to be the farm that I would have used in my native wild woods. But this does not seem to show up in any of the British stylings. I don't know why it doesn't but when it does cos what we have here has been an illogical formation you have to have is parallel to drive drove on and so on. But it shows up in America and not in England. And all we can say is that it just happens to show up over here
and some other question I would like to read a little from talking about first I want to go back to urban areas. But before that perhaps a quick question along another line many people will mix up the question of what the difference between slang and dialogue and I would like you to play if you will just sounding as if what you say to be worth it and you're trying to keep involved at the time and lying. Has generally acquired It's made up by right people and echoed and used to excess by people who are not so bright and yet while trying to keep up with that and it is really a mode rather than that. Yes it's raining a lot yes yes cos you have other kinds of molds for instance beginning about 1948. That was quite I'm
a mole in Madison Avenue and schools of education. Certain types of businesses and the like for developing at verbs from nouns by adding the suffix was how we're going to make some changes next year. Correcting them while I eat and I heard on a church bulletin in Cleveland Ohio to be specific Saint Paul the physical charity which was of the most expensive parish in the state. Skiving then you plan for Sunday services. So the two services will be identical. SIMON WATT So wise you know but this particular pattern of making adverbs flourished falloff for five years and then it began to taper off and I hardly ever encounter any of that you have and you can I just I thought it in private.
It may interest you to hear the following story I just had a divide a week ago two weeks ago somebody said something that I don't quote verbatim I don't remember the exact sentence that somebody spoke about two items and said Well morning Wise people do something so and so but otherwise why is B would do something something if I so well have to say what otherwise simply fill the slot up and not on adding wise to the allies. I don't know. My feeling is that it probably is not as common as a lot of fashion happens to run out. Yeah people get tired of hearing it. Addiction is don't designated a SEP stand I don't know why after all it is a pattern that has been going on in English for years you have a link flashed across drive and last otherwise and then you had formations from time to time
in Milton Gery oppa Jessica. There's a statement with reference to the practice of censoring books requiring an ecclesiastical commission so that was a statement sometimes you'll find five or six of the imprimatur ducking to each other dialogue wise on the page. Well I'm glad you don't have the implements your wisest. I would like to go back to the cities and ask you a few methodological questions you know that to much of I was seriously I was devoted to the methodology of linguistic work and I would like to tell us a little bit about the way in which your teams go about collecting urban dialects in this vast country Lamma rid of people you find in a city like Chicago for instance. Well first of all. We had a few.
Field records of the linguistic atlas from Chicago. You can you know Chicago when you're dealing with the speech of the old central states and. Having the right kinds to start. Let's have then I was able to twist the arm of the Patterson one of my very good students and suggest that he follow that up with us a study of the speech of Metropolitan Chicago. So instead of. Half a dozen field rock bands as an album grown by then. Levy ended up with about 50 interviewers built around the linguistic Atlas questionnaire and he also had about seven days face to face interview that was built around on our very own show I kind of a checklist of pronunciation
items that seem to be socialists in government. Yeah I got it at that then we we took notice. And we would have been working all the time with the negatives of the metropolitan area. Yes and in our social dialect a project for the Office of Education we added 50 mile Our interview was the first time we shot and the question out a great deal and fall several of the groups particularly the lower class white and Negro groups we added people who were not natives but who had come to Chicago. In fact we had two negro groups in this category one that had come to Chicago at least five years before the other who had no more than a two year residence but we wanted to say.
Was well beyond not the urban standard speech patterns tended to rub off on a recent MBRD Newcome as I know its mother the didn't question but so many people ask it that I wanted to ask it nevertheless I want your reaction. How do you establish in such a vast city community what a PUA that is on the Internet if you have likely never has been. Carson has long. People are in contact with people outside the community is there going to be gaining and losing words acquiring new pronunciation habits of their magical forms of exploiting that home. There's no such thing as a pure that way. What we try to do in any community is to get some sort of criteria a social profile
and we will for instance saw folk speak up will try to get someone who is very old who have. Fact I never lived in the community day ahead if you hadn't learned to read and write. Perhaps so much the better as we're trying to get someone who's had as little kind of town nation as possible which means as little social sophistication yet I look around town an Asian as possible of a speech by outside elements and then we get somebody who knows a little more in the swing of things a middle aged dog Kiba perhaps and then we get someone who represents the best local cultural tradition as you would go to someone who knows the local genealogist and the lichens and here in Nashville and
say now if you wanted to get someone who represents the best tradition of good. Socialist educated national speech where we talk yet you know who would be recommended and what kinds of families would you go to who might help arrange an introduction as you try to get the social credentials of each type of speak go pretty well. Hag before you start handing somebody out it is not just picking up people at random. Oh you can do with us and get some very interesting things to do but it involves understanding the kinds of social gradations that you have in urban society and finding people who fit
and to certain positions in the various interlocking scales of excellence which means a tripartite stratification which you outlined is not really enough that owe me a stop so I start regulating grass. You started really with three times in one year and then you shade back and forth because after all you want to take care of the division. How old are you. Middle age and younger speakers. Yes you would probably want to get something like an even split between men and women women have you would probably want to get representatives of various ethnic groups in the community. For instance in Chicago we've got a number of people of German background several negroes one Puerto Rican one Mexican. Several Scandinavians on the panel young.
And just plain lost. Yes whatever we could of course go on for ever and ever. Dialects are a never ending subject of interest to so many people. You just have a little time left and I think I have told you of that next program the last one the Siddhas called dialing West which deals with linguistic organizations I'm sorry I can't have you on that program now but you can use the rest of our time just the 2 minutes we have left and that is a little bit about the activities of the Dialect Society is that only linguists. Their folklore isn't what is the center of activity of the exercise. I don't know I suppose you would say that the Dialect Society. Has a membership made up of people who were interested in the various natural overact is American English from various points of view. They may be historians and maybe folklorists could be musicians or they could be
various kinds of sociologists. I think what you would find they have in common is an interest in systematically finding out the kinds of differences that set all the various natural varieties of a lot of language in a speech community as large as the United States or whatever the reason of the problem is is there any organization of contact been to adolescent The down at the side to the dealing except through us. Well I would say all of the members of the various linguistic Atlas projects have found themselves active in the Dialect Society I think we probably have had for the last 30 years or more sponsorship by the likes aside of course the Dialect Society is a relatively impoverished society. Hellman.
New aspects of language
Urban Dialect
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Nashville Public Radio
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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For series info, see Item 3622. This prog.: Urban Dialect
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Producing Organization: WPLN
Producing Organization: Nashville Public Radio
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Chicago: “New aspects of language; Urban Dialect,” 1968-11-23, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed January 24, 2022,
MLA: “New aspects of language; Urban Dialect.” 1968-11-23. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. January 24, 2022. <>.
APA: New aspects of language; Urban Dialect. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from