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Doc's Response to Labov

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Doc's Response to Labov

Postby Dr. Goodword » Wed Sep 18, 2013 10:28 pm

Good grief! Did this topic come up in June? I was busy creating a major word list at that time and didn't have time to read Labov's book carefully.

My reply has been posted now in the blog at

http://www.alphadictionary.com/blog/?p=1582
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Re: Doc's Response to Labov

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Sep 19, 2013 10:04 pm

This may be generally true, but Louisiana is a hotbed of diverse accents. The black English here can be very strong, and it has influenced our Southern accent. A hundred miles south of me, you encounter very strong Cajun accents along with regular English softened by a touch of Cajun. Fading in New Orleans is its distinctive native accent that I can invariably pick up from natives. Media actors playing southerners have accents that are parodies. A long-standing and interesting phenomenum is that educated blacks may speak with the famous Midwest neutral accent, but you can often hear them assume the Ebonic (?) way of speech when they turn to a group of blacks.

I can pass no judgment on the blog, as it focuses on parts of the country I'm not familar with. I'd bet on Doc, though, as I find him consistently reliable.
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Re: Doc's Response to Labov

Postby Dr. Goodword » Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:37 am

All the dialects you mention have been there for considerably amounts of time; none are new. I would bet that they have shrunk both in features and in speakers over the past 20 years.
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Re: Doc's Response to Labov

Postby Perry Lassiter » Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:56 pm

Not sure how much they have shrunk. Like the Welsh on another thread, some want to preserve it, expecially Cajun. Percentage-wise, more blacks speak regular English, whatever that is down here, but some seem to my ear to maintain the old ebonics to the point that at times they are hard to understand.
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Re: Doc's Response to Labov

Postby Dr. Goodword » Mon Oct 28, 2013 8:49 am

Do you find this mostly in rural areas or in urban ones, too? I can detect slight improvements even in the rural dialects. I don't hear "I'se" or "we done move it" at all even in the rural dialects in NC.
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Re: Doc's Response to Labov

Postby Perry Lassiter » Mon Oct 28, 2013 9:32 pm

We have a black, reasonably educated, member of our Lions Club who serves as secretary. Her minutes frequently reflect black idioms, such as confusing singular and plural and other common characteristics. Another black lady is a college graduate in computer science and never seems to make those mistakes. As to quantity, I don't know. However of course more and more blacks are going to college.
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