Tuesday, October 28
R in the Southern US
Deletion was spreading westward from cultural centers. R-fullness was typical of rural,
older and uneducated speech, of those outside of the plantation system, while
R-lessness was associated with more dominant societal levels. Its initial prestige in the
US was weak at best and increased with increased contact between seaports and
London. The northern prestige of R collided with the southern prestige of deletion in
Hillsboro. Upper middle class speakers used one or the other. Other classes displayed
greater variation. Correlations with age and style suggest R presence was winning the
New York City
Variation was so great that it was described as being entirely unsystematic and lacking
pattern. This is where Labov steps in (he’s the guy interested in finding the pattern in
variation and who really doesn’t believe in “free variation
). He was convinced that R-full
was becoming the new prestige norm and set out to show this.
Style: causal and emphatic.
Regarding style: in carefull pronunciation, Sak’s and Macy’s are almost the same, as
such, it seems that it is the r-full (more in slides)
Use of a form that is believed to be prestigious even though the way the individual
used it is not in keeping with the way the prestige group uses it, for example:
“between you and I”, intervocalic R-lessness in the South.
The other kind of hypercorrection is quantitative in nature and it is the kind mentioned in
the NYC study.
The lower middle class, i.e. in certain styles, they use even more of the prestige
form that the class above.
This table (in slides) shows that in NYW the lower middle class uses R in formal styles
even more than the upper middle class, and as the bar graph on page 167 shows, this is
particularly true of the older speakers. Hypercorrection of this type suggests that those
individuals who hypercorrect are keenly aware of the prestige of a particular form. And,
they use is abundantly when paying attention to how they speak, and a pattern like this is
highly suggestive of change in progress.