Speaking American: A History of English in the United States

By Richard W. Bailey | Go to book overview

10 Epilogue

WHAT IS THE future of speaking American? Two things we can be sure of in speculating about what comes next.

First, all the ways we now think of as ways of speaking will change beyond recognition. None of the language varieties we have described is still in use. Valley Girl is gone; the dialects of the b’hoys and g’hals of midnineteenth-century New York are forgotten. The “Pilgrim” dialect of Plimoth Plantation, the New England theme park, is well intentioned but certainly unlike what the seventeenth-century Bostonians would have spoken.

Second, the new varieties of American English will be shaped from new materials, and they will not necessarily be specific to a time or place as in the past. People, especially young people, pick up voices where they find them, and now, with the Internet offering riches, the voices could be from almost anywhere.

The only way to be sure what will happen next is to wait and see.

-183-

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Speaking American: A History of English in the United States
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents ix
  • Editorial Note xi
  • Preface xiii
  • Acknowledgments xvii
  • 1- Introduction 3
  • 2- Chesapeake Bay, before 1650 16
  • 3- Boston, 1650–1700 27
  • 4- Charleston, 1700–1750 48
  • 5- Philadelphia, 1750–1800 72
  • 6- New Orleans, 1800–1850 98
  • 7- New York, 1850–1900 121
  • 8- Chicago, 1900–1950 139
  • 9- Los Angeles, 1950–2000 162
  • 10- Epilogue 183
  • References 185
  • Index 199
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