The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain

The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain

The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain

The Relation of the Alabama-Georgia Dialect to the Provincial Dialects of Great Britain

Excerpt

"It is abundantly clear that many local dialectal differences are traceable directly to local dialectal differences in England which were transferred from England to America," states George Phillip Krapp in his English Language in America, I, p. 53. A detailed examination of the evidence will show that Krapp has not been too emphatic. But even before one examines the evidence, a moment's reflection on the speech conditions in England at the time of the emigration to America will show that it is strongly probable that provincial speech habits were transferred from Great Britain to America.

Aubrey has told us that Sir Walter Raleigh spoke "broad Devon" to his dying day. This was obviously not altogether usual to have merited mention. At the same time it has some significance. If Raleigh, a well-educated man, a great nobleman and a court favorite, retained so much of the provincial coloring of his native county, even at court, what must have been true of the small farmer, the indentured servant, and the shop-keeper in the provincial town, so many of whom made up the body of the seventeenth century immigrants to America?

It will not be difficult to adduce much stronger evidence of the persistence of dialectal coloring in even educated speech during this period. For example, Puttenham in his Arte of English Poetry (1589) states that Southern English is the standard language, particularly that of "London and the shires lying about London within LX myles, and not much above." He goes on to say: "I say not this but that in every shyre of England there be gentlemen and others that speake but specially write [italics mine] as good Southerne as we of Middlesex or Surrey do, but not the common people of every shire, to whom the gentlemen, and also their learned clarkes do for the most part condescend." As Ekwall says, in commenting on this passage, "Here we have an unequivocal statement to the effect that even people of social standing, in the latter part of the 16th cent., were largely influenced by their native dialects." (p. XXXIV.) . . .

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