Discourse transcribed for this work comes from approximately 180 hours of audiotaped speech occurring in routine, daily work and social conversational settings. As a generally spontaneous if not conversational set of data, it is most appropriately transcribed using methods developed in conversational analysis. I modified slightly the system developed by DuBois et al. ( 1993).
Ash Creek speech does conform, however, to features diagnostic of Appalachian English ( Shopen and Williams 1980; C. Williams 1992; Wolfram and Christian 1976; Wolfram and Schilling-Estes 1998). Therefore, problems related to transcribing a highly stigmatized variety of American English also arose. The problems are complicated by the long-standing existence of both stylized and misleading orthographic representations in regional and local color fictional writing and popularized distortions of "hillbilly talk" found in pamphlets obtainable at roadside tourist stops or in newspaper cartoons. These preexisting orthographic distortions have their own well established semiotic meanings in popular culture that evoke highly negative images of lazy, poor, ignorant, and intellectually challenged individuals. Certain orthographic features of these representations such as the use of the apostrophe to indicate an alleged letter omission or certain spellings such as "yeller" for "yellow" can carry some of these negative significations with them when used in a rigorous transcription such as I attempted here.
Using a dual transcriptional system in which a close phonetic transcription is paired with a standardized English orthographic rendition is also unsuitable. Such dualities recreate a sense of "Other" with respect to Ash Creek speech. Ash Creek speech is a variety of American English, not a separate language. Many words are pronounced in ways conforming to national newscasters' pronunciations of Standard Broadcast American English. Using this type of transcriptional system would exaggerate linguistic differences for little scholarly purpose while reproducing a widely accepted and weakly substantiated sense of significant cultural differences.