English in the Southern United States

English in the Southern United States

English in the Southern United States

English in the Southern United States

Synopsis

The English of the southern United States is possibly the most studied of any regional variety of any language because of its rich internal diversity, its distinctiveness among regional varieties in the United States, its significance as a marker of regional identity, and the general folkloric appeal of southern culture. However, most, if not all, books about Southern American English have been directed almost exclusively toward scholars already working in the field. This 2003 volume, written by a team of experts, many of them internationally known, provides a broad overview of the foundations of and research on language variation in the southern United States designed to invite inquiry and inquirers. It explores historical and cultural elements, iconic contemporary features, and changes in progress. Central themes, issues and topics of scholarly investigation and debate figure prominently throughout the volume. The extensive bibliography will facilitate continued research.

Excerpt

The English of the southern United States may be the most studied regional variety of any language. Though there has been no comprehensive bibliography on the topic since Michael Montgomery and James McMillan's (1989) admirable annotated compilation with over 3,500 entries, it is safe to say that the number of articles, monographs, and books on Southern English approaches or exceeds 4,000, with no abatement in sight. What is the allure of this variety of English? Perhaps its rich internal diversity, perhaps its distinctiveness among regional varieties in the United States, perhaps the folkloric appeal of southern culture in general. Whatever attracts so many to Southern English, Michael Montgomery stands in the vanguard of the myriad scholars who have explored the language and culture of the South. Michael is the quintessential linguist. As author, collaborator, corpus linguist, editor, field researcher, lexicographer, mentor, writer and recipient of grants, he has set a standard for leadership and achievement as a scholar. References in the ensuing chapters to over thirty of his works are not for honorific purposes; his imprint is found in virtually every research area within the study of Southern English.

Inspired by Michael Montgomery's life and work, the authors and editors of English in the Southern United States have undertaken the challenge of creating a volume to capture the past and present of Southern English, to bring our field of research to an even broader community, and to serve as a small platform for launching future research in southern studies. We have endeavored to enrich the climate of ongoing and future inquiry by exploring central themes, issues, and topics in the study of Southern English. Throughout the volume, previous and new data on iconic linguistic features and cultural origins of this diverse regional variety are investigated. Finally, an extensive bibliography provides an additional resource to facilitate further research. Since this is, then, both an upto-date scholarly text and an introduction (and invitation) to the field, we have organized the contributions in chapters which stand independently but are also arranged in a sequence that might prove useful for instructional purposes.

John Algeo opens the volume with an outline of the principal cultural elements of the linguistic heredity of the southern United States. He first, however . . .

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