American Earlier Black English: Morphological and Syntactic Variables

By Edgar W. Schneider | Go to book overview

4.
Correlative speech variation
in Earlier Black English

4. 1. Regional variation

4.1.1. Dialect areas of the South

In this chapter, the regional patterning of EBE will be compared to the dialect areas of the South as established hitherto on the basis of--predominantly white--southern folk speech. To permit such a comparison, the dialectal structure of the southern United States, as established by dialectological research, has to be summarized briefly first. It is well known that in this area in particular the regional factor determines speech variation to a considerable extent: "The tidal rivers of the Carolinas, the swamps of the Georgia coastal plain, have contributed to making the Old South the most varied region, dialectally, in the English settlements of the New World" ( McDavid 1971: 47). The same opinion was voiced by Hans Kurath in 1949: "The South is more diversified in speech, both regionally and socially, than either the North or the Midland. Localisms abound, especially in the coastal areas" (37). Whether this applies to the speech of blacks to the same extent is a question that has been under discussion, as was pointed out in section 1.1.2. of this book. Troike writes on this point:

The third dimension which seriously lacks research is that of regional variation in the speech of black communities. The interest in discovering creolisms and in demonstrating the identifiability of Black English by searching for uniformities has militated against the recognition of regional variation. ( Troike 1973: 8)

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