Every time a person opens his or her mouth to speak that person is speaking not only a language but a dialect of that language as well. It is a common misconception that only certain people whose pronunciations vary from what is considered Standard American English, speak a dialect. In fact, there are so many different dialects of American English today that it has been said looking at the different varieties is like looking at varieties of the American climate, how many we find depends on how closely we look. 1
In this paper I would like to take a closer look at one of the common uses of a dialect, namely, the use of a dialect as a form of identity. I would also like to examine factors that could potentially alter whether or not a person continues to use a dialect in this manner. I have previously done some research on the Finnish influenced dialect of English found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (2002) and its use as a form of identity and I see many similarities with William Labov's findings regarding dialect as a form of identity on Martha's Vineyard (1962, 1972).
[...] As previously indicated, I did not see evidence of decreased usage of the Upper Peninsula dialect or of the dialect losing its strength as an identity marker. William Labov also concluded that this was an important use of the dialect on Martha's Vineyard in the 1960's and early 1970's. However, it has now been over forty years since Labov's original research in 1962. So in an attempt to answer the question of what else could be responsible for dialect usage change, it becomes clear that there is a need to identify changes to the societal structure that may contribute to language change. [...]
[...] Martha's Vineyard Population Change by Decade + + + In contrast, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan has continued a trend of alternating growth and decline from one decade to the next that began in 1910.17 It should also be noted that during the decades of growth, the rate of increase has been minute compared to that of Martha's Vineyard (see U.S. Census Bureau table below). Upper Peninsula Population Change by Decade + -.05% + - + Another facet of the population increase on Martha's Vineyard that surely contributes to the changing attitudes of native islanders is that several politicians and celebrities now reside on the island and thusly are a part of the population increase. [...]
[...] Though tourism doesn't rate a mention in this document, the Michigan Department of Career Development includes trade and services in its distribution of the Upper Peninsula economy (at approximately 40% combined) and tourism falls under these sectors. From personal experience and knowledge of the Upper Peninsula, tourists are generally drawn to the area for one of three activities; sightseeing, gaming (hunting and fishing) and gambling at the Native American Tribal casinos. When William Labov conducted his research on Martha's Vineyard the fishing industry still employed the majority of the population.21 Today, Martha's Vineyard is sustained by its tourism industry. [...]
[...] Attitudes, Local Varieties and English Language Teaching. Electronic document, http://www- writing.berkeley.edu/tesl-ej/ej09/a2.html, accessed November Pinker, Steven 1994 The Language Instinct. New York: William Morrow and Company, Inc. Pinker, Steven 1999 Words and Rules: The Ingredients of Language. New York: Basic Books. Reed, Carroll E Dialects of American English. Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press. Remlinger, Kathryn 2002 Crossing Methodological Borders: Critical Discourse Analysis and Ethnodialectology. Paper presented at Methods in Dialectology XI, University of Joensuu, Finland, August 5. Remlinger, Kathryn 2002 The Finnish of the Copper Country. [...]
[...] Pg xi 7 Bryson, Bill 1990 The Mother Tongue - English and How it Got That Way. Pg University of California 2002 Style and Ethnicity: The Evolution of Symbolic Traits. Electronic document. Pg University of Pennsylvania 2001 Dipthong Centralization on Martha's Vineyard. Electronic document. Pg Josey, Meredith 2001 A Sociolinguistic Study on the Status of on a Northeastern Island: Martha's Vineyard Revisited. Pg Remlinger, Kathryn 2002 The Finnish of the Copper Country. Pg Trippel, Thorston 1997 Martha's Vineyard Review of Labov's Findings. [...]
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