Drawing on established research on the diversity of early American Englishes in the South as well as ongoing sociolinguistic investigation, this volume demonstrates how generational dialect changes are attributable to shifts in socioeconomic structure.
The author explores the diverse lower class of the small semi-rural, semi-industrial town of Griffin, Georgia, focusing on the complex intersections of occupation, heritage, and race.
In the textile mill villages, the day-to-day interactions between residents reproduce the institutional practices of the mill; these contrast sharply with the loosely tied community of small farmers.
For the farmers, many of whom have been forced to give up farming, the paternalistic and complex structure of the mill village emphasizes the loss of the postbellum goal of personal independence.The innovation and negotiation of dialects as linguistic capital begin with the farmers' children who have contact with the mill workers' children at the newly consolidated high school. Through their exchanges the linguistic ecology of the village becomes an active site of competition and selection: groups defined by distinct speech patterns are renegotiated, non-standard grammatical constructions are abandoned and adopted, and some older, declining features are revived.
Elizabeth DuPree McNair is Assistant Professor in the Department of Engineering Education at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State College.