Dialect Variation in Kentucky: Eastern Kentuckian Perceptions
- 19 Downloads
The Appalachian Mountains, which, by various definitions, extend from New York to Mississippi, potentially making up part of the landscape of 13 different states, are known among many Americans as being home to a unique cultural and linguistic experience. The speech of Appalachians, however, is not typically valued by those Americans, as it has long been ridiculed by outsiders. Such ridicule has even caused some Appalachians themselves to believe that their place in the linguistic hierarchy of America is near the bottom. Yet, regional pride is emerging in new and exciting ways in Appalachia, and, using a perceptual dialectology framework, this chapter explores how Appalachians can turn the tables, showing not only pride in their local speech but also distaste for other varieties they perceive. Data from Eastern Kentucky residents, in the form of mental maps and language attitudes surveys, are presented herein to show what and where they believe Appalachian varieties exist, what attitudes they have towards such varieties, which other varieties in the state they perceive, and their beliefs about those varieties as well. Results suggest that while certain characteristics like education still get attached to more urban areas like Louisville and Lexington, Appalachians believe their own variety to be pleasant and beautiful, connecting the speech of the region to notions of culture, heritage, home, and family.
KeywordsPerceptual dialectology Appalachia Language attitudes Mental maps Dialect variation
- Appalachian Regional Commission. (2016). The Appalachian Region. Retrieved: 22 Sept 2016 from https://www.arc.gov/appalachian_region/TheAppalachianRegion.asp.
- Billings, D. B. (1999). Introduction. In D. Billings, G. Norman, & K. Ledford (Eds.), Confronting Appalachian stereotypes: Back talk from an American region (pp. 3–20). Lexington: University Press of Kentucky.Google Scholar
- Census.gov. (2017). Kentucky. Retrieved: 2 June 2017 from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/table/PST045216/21.
- Cramer, J. (2010). The effect of borders on the linguistic production and perception of regional identity in Louisville. Ph.D. Dissertation. Kentucky: University of Illinois.Google Scholar
- Cramer, J. (2014). Is Shakespeare still in the holler? The death of a language myth. Southern Journal of Linguistics, 38(1), 195–207.Google Scholar
- Cramer, J. (2016a). Contested southernness: The linguistic production and perception of identities in the borderlands (Publication of the American Dialect Society, Vol. 100). Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
- Cramer, J. (2016b). Perceptual dialectology (Oxford handbooks online. Linguistics). New York: Oxford University Press. https://doi.org/10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199935345.013.60.
- Cramer, J. (2016c). Rural vs. urban: Perception and production of identity in a border city. In J. Cramer & C. Montgomery (Eds.), Cityscapes and perceptual dialectology: Global perspectives on non-linguists’ knowledge of the dialect landscape (Language and social life, Vol. 5, pp. 27–53). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Cukor-Avila, P., Jeon, L., Rector, P. C., Tiwari, C., & Shelton, Z. (2012). Texas – It’s like a whole Nuther country: Mapping Texans’ perceptions of dialect variation in the lone star state. In Proceedings from the twentieth annual symposium about language and society (pp. 10–19). Austin: Texas Linguistics Forum.Google Scholar
- Diercks, W. (2002). Mental maps: Linguistic-geographic concepts. In D. Long & D. R. Preston (Eds.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology (Vol. 2, pp. 51–70). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Drye, W. (2005). Appalachians are finding pride in mountain twang. National Geographic News. Retrieved: 22 Sept 2016 from http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/05/0502_050502_twang.html.
- Elam, C. (2002). Culture, poverty, and education in Appalachian Kentucky. Education and Culture, 18(1), 10–13.Google Scholar
- Frost, W. G. (1899). Our contemporary ancestors in the Southern Mountains. Boston: Atlantic Monthly Company.Google Scholar
- Gould, P., & White, R. (1986). Mental maps (2nd ed.). Boston: Allen & Unwin.Google Scholar
- Hoenigswald, H. (1966). A proposal for the study of folk-linguistics. In W. Bright (Ed.), Sociolinguistics (pp. 16–26). The Hague: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet. (2015). Kentucky coal facts. 15th ed, Created with the Department for Energy Development and Independence in partnership with the Kentucky Coal Association. Retrieved: 13 Oct 2016 from http://energy.ky.gov/Coal%20Facts%20Library/Kentucky%20Coal%20Facts%20-%2015th%20Edition%20(2015).pdf.
- Kentucky League of Cities. (2011). KLC research report: The basics of Kentucky cities. Retrieved: 2 June 2017 from http://www.klc.org/UserFiles/TheBasics2011_Sept(2).pdf.
- Lowrey, A. (2014). What’s the matter with eastern Kentucky? The New York Times. Retrieved: 22 Sept 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2014/06/29/magazine/whats-the-matter-with-eastern-kentucky.html?_r=0.
- McCarroll, M. (2018). On and on: Appalachia accent and academic power. Southern Cultures. Retrieved: 28 June 2018 from http://www.southerncultures.org/article/on-and-on-appalachian-accent-and-academic-power/.
- Montgomery, M. (1999). In the Appalachians they speak like Shakespeare. In L. Bauer & P. Trudgill (Eds.), Language myths (pp. 66–76). London: Penguin.Google Scholar
- Montgomery, C. (2007). Northern English dialects: A perceptual approach. Ph.D. Dissertation. University of Sheffield, UK.Google Scholar
- Montgomery, C. (2016). Perceptual prominence of city-based dialect areas in Great Britain. In J. Cramer & C. Montgomery (Eds.), Cityscapes and perceptual dialectology: Global perspectives on non-linguists’ knowledge of the dialect landscape (Language and social life, Vol. 5, pp. 185–208). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Montgomery, C., & Cramer, J. (2016). Developing methods in perceptual dialectology. In J. Cramer & C. Montgomery (Eds.), Cityscapes and perceptual dialectology: Global perspectives on non-linguists’ knowledge of the dialect landscape (Language and social life, Vol. 5, pp. 9–24). Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.Google Scholar
- Preston, D. R. (Ed.). (1999). Handbook of perceptual dialectology, vol. 1. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Raitz, K. B., & Ulack, R. (1984). Appalachia: A regional geography. Boulder: Westview Press.Google Scholar
- Romanello, M. T. (2002). The perception of urban varieties: Preliminary studies from the south of Italy. In D. Long & D. R. Preston (Eds.), Handbook of perceptual dialectology (Vol. 2, pp. 329–349). Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
- Williams, J. A. (2002). Appalachia: A history. Chapel Hill/London: The University of North Carolina Press.Google Scholar