Language and Perception: Development of and Attitudes Towards Dialects of American English Open Access

Leff, Rachel Danielle (2014)

Permanent URL: https://etd.library.emory.edu/concern/etds/8p58pd59w?locale=en
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Abstract

The formation of regional dialects of American English began at the onset of colonization and, over the course of American history, these initial dialects have shifted and changed to form a series of disparate pronunciations, lexicons, and syntaxes. Today, Standard American English is upheld as the prestige dialect of American English while all other dialects differing in linguistic features are subsequently marked as "nonstandard" and "incorrect." This thesis focuses on the implications of Standard American English and Standard Language Ideology on language perceptions and attitudes in addition to tracing the historical creation of today's Standard American English. By analyzing the language attitudes of college students at Emory University and the University of Georgia, this thesis demonstrates that language attitudes towards both Standard American English and marked dialects of American English are not only being maintained but also increasing in their complexities.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Introduction........... 1

Chapter 1: Language Change and

Its Connection to Standard American English.........5

The Process of Language Change........ 6

The Concept of Standard American English.....13

Establishment of Accent and Language Subordination.......15

Chapter 2: Creation of Regional American English Dialects......20

The Birth of American English................. 20

American English Formation.......... 22

Regional Dialect Formation......... 25

Chapter 3: The Rise of Standard American English and

Its Influence on Language Attitudes........... 35

Theory and Initial Influences on Standard Language.........35

Foundation of Today's Standard American English..........38

Regional Standard Language Prior to the Network Standard.........42

Historical Shifts in the Standard and Postvocalic /r/.........44

Standard American English and National Identity...........47

Standard American English Today.........49

Chapter 4: The Implications of Standard American English............52

Preston's Conclusions on Language Attitudes...........52

The Language Attitudes of College Students--Study Methodology...........61

Results: Demographic Information.........63

Results: Advertisements..............64

Conclusion...............79

Works Cited...............85

Appendix A: Data Charts.........88

Appendix B: Research Study Documentation...........112

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