Recorded sociolinguistic interviews with native white Alabamians from Anniston were collected between 1968 and 1973, with a built-in apparent time factor. The speakers consisted of an evenly distributed sample of older men and women born between 1882 and 1907 and teenagers born between 1953 and 1956. The speakers were evenly distributed between local upper and working classes, with a category of older rural working class speakers. In 1990, another survey of that city was undertaken using the same interview schedule, interviewer, and equipment. This time a new cohort of teenagers, both working class and upper class, was interviewed, born between 1973 and 1975. In addition, the previous "teenagers" were traced, and some re-interviewed.
The variables examined include post-vocalic tautosyllabic r (core/heart/mother) , long i (nice/might/pipe), long open o (law/caught), short a (man/bad), and on-glided u (tune/duke/ news) (Feagin 1990, 1993, 1994, 1996a, 1996b), as well as vowel shifting (Feagin 2002).
Four types of changes were observed, ranging from no change over the past 100 years, changes completed in three generations, new changes entering the community, and on-going change. These changes are distributed differently by age and social class, allowing a view of the dynamics and ordering of the changes as they go through the community and through the various linguistic environments.
What are the social and linguistic motivations for these changes--or lack of change? Local loyalty and accommodation to non-local values, intermixed with self-identification all seem to drive these opposing developments, mainly below the level of consciousness. Linguistically, the changes appear to be driven by both internal and external factors-- that is, general linguistic pressures and principles as well as contact with non-local varieties.
While the details here apply only to this data set, that is, to Anniston, similar developments and dynamics can be observed across the American South, though with different timing and perhaps different ordering (e.g., Baranowski 2000; Crane 1977; Feagin 2002; Fridland 1999, 2001; Labov et al. in press; Phillips 1981; Schoenweitz 2001; Thomas 2001; Tillery 1989).
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