AMERICAN REGIONAL LEXICAL SURVEY: GENDER AND AGE IN LEXICAL CHANGE IN THE SOUTHERN UNITED STATES

Carol Little

Abstract

The American South has always been a distinct linguistic region. Using data from the American Regional Lexical Survey, this study shows the overall decline in use of Southern lexical terms. The following explores these changes in lexical choice in this region by comparing gender over time. Women’s choice to use Southern lexical items decreases whereas men’s usage of Southern lexical items increases significantly in the youngest generation. The results from this survey depict the effects of changing population demographics and labour statistics on choice of lexical item.

Keywords

dialectology; sociolinguistics; lexical choice; regional terms; lexical survey

Full Text:

References

Show references Hide references

Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2009, January 9) The editor’s desk:
Wives earning more than their husbands, 1987-2006. Retrieved from http://www.bls.
gov/opub/ted/2009/jan/wk1/art05.htm


Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. (2001, August 16) The editor’s
desk: Women’s earnings growth higher than men’s at all education levels, 1979-2000.
Retrieved from http://www.bls.gov/opub/ted/2001/aug/wk2/art04.htm


Bailey, G., Wikle, T, Tillery, J, and Sand, L. (1993) ‘Some patterns of linguistic diffusion.’
Language Variation and Change 5, 359-390. https://doi.org/10.1017/S095439450000154X


Cassidy, F. G., Hall, J. H. and Von, S. L. (1985) Dictionary of American Regional English.
Cambridge, MA: Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.


Chambers, J. K. (1998) ‘TV makes people sound the same.’ In: Bauer, L. and Trudgill, P.
(eds) Language Myths. London: Penguin Books. 123-131.


De Hart, J. S. (1997) ‘Second wave feminism(s) and the south: The differences that make.’
In: Farnham, Ch. (ed) Women of the American South: A Multicultural Reader. New
York: New York University Press. 273-301.


Dougherty, C. (2010, September 1) ‘Young women’s pay exceeds male peers.’ The Wall
Street Journal. Retrieved from http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748704
421104575463790770831192.html.

Eckert, P. (1989) ‘The whole woman: Sex and gender differences in variation.’ Language
Variation and Change 1/03, 245-267.


Fridland, V. (2006) ‘The social dimension of the southern vowel shift: Gender, age and
class.’ Journal of Sociolinguistics 5/2, 233-253. https://doi.org/10.1111/1467-9481.00149


Goldberg, B. (2011, March 24) ‘South rises again, leading U.S. in population group.’
Reuters. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/25/us-censusregions-
idUSTRE72O02X20110325.


Hutcheson, N. (Producer) and Hutcheson, N. (Director). (2005). Voices of North Carolina
[Motion picture]. United States: NCLLP Films.


Jacewicz, E., Fox, R. and Salmons, J. (2011) ‘Vowel change across three age groups of
speakers in three regional varieties of American English.’ Journal of Phonetics 39/4,
683-693. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2011.07.003


Jansson, D. R. (2003) ‘American national identity and the progress of the new south.’
Geographical Review 93/3, 350-369. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1931-0846.2003.tb00037.x


Johnson, E. (1996) Lexical Change and Variation in the Southeastern United States,
1930-1990. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.


Juhn, C. and Potter, S. (2006) ‘Changes in labour force participation in the united states.’
The Journal of Economic Perspectives 20/3, 27-46. https://doi.org/10.1257/jep.20.3.27


Labov, W. (2007) ‘Transmission and diffusion.’ Language 83/2, 344-387. https://doi.org/10.1353/lan.2007.0082


Labov, W., Ash, S. and Boberg, C. (2006) The Atlas of North American English: Phonetics,
Phonology, and Sound Change: A Multimedia Reference Tool. Berlin; New York:
Mouton de Gruyter.


Maynor, N. (2000) ‘Battle of the pronouns: Y‘all versus you-guys.’ American Speech
75/4, 416- 418.


National Geographic. (n.d.) Firefly (Lightning Bug). Retrieved from http://animals.
nationalgeographic.com/animals/bugs/firefly/.


Nichols, P. C. (1983) ‘Linguistic options and choices for black women in the rural south.’
In: Thorne, B., Kramarae, Ch. and Henley, N. (eds) Language, Gender, and Society.
Rowley, Mass.: Newbury House. 54-68.


Preston, D. R. (2010) ‘Mapping the geolinguistic spaces of the brain.’ In: Lameli, A.,
Kehrein, R. and Rabanus, S. (eds) Language and Space, Vol. 2: Language Mapping.
Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton. 121-153.


Rogers, G. J. (1982) ‘The changing image of the southern woman: A performer on a
pedestal.’ The Journal of Popular Culture 16/3, 60-67. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.0022-3840.1982.1603_60.x


Tillery, J., Wikle, T. and Bailey, G. (2000) ‘The nationalization of a southernism.’ Journal
of English Linguistics Journal of English Linguistics 28/3, 280-294. https://doi.org/10.1177/00754240022005045


Tillery, J., Bailey, G. and Wikle, T. (2004) ‘Demographic change and American dialectology
in the twenty-first century.’ American Speech 79/3, 227-249. https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-79-3-227


Vaux, B. and Golder, S. A. (n.d.) Dialect survey. Retrieved from http://www4.uwm.edu/
FLL/linguistics/dialect/index.html. https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-79-3-227


Wolfram, W., Carter, P. and Moriello, B. (2004) ‘Emerging hispanic English: New dialect
formation in the American South.’ Journal of Sociolinguistics 8/3, 339-358. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1467-9841.2004.00264.x

https://doi.org/10.5817/DI2012-2-51


Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.