Appalachian English stereotypes: Language attitudes in Kentucky

Reid Luhman
1990 Language in society  
Nonstandard language varieties typically become social markers of the social groups that use them. Through this connection, the varieties reflect commonly held stereotypes of those groups from the perspective of outsiders, as well as symbolize group membership for their speakers. This study employs the matched guise technique to compare attitudes toward Appalachian English and Standard American English held by speakers of both language varieties. Most studies of nonstandard language varieties
more » ... anguage varieties have shown an acceptance by nonstandard speakers of dominant negative stereotypes of their groups. By varying content of speech samples evaluated, this study suggests that speakers of Appalachian English partially accept low status evaluations of their dialect, but reject other negative stereotypes of their speech community in terms of integrity and social attractiveness of its members. In particular, results suggest significantly higher evaluations of male speakers of Appalachian English that are shared by Standard English speakers. (Appalachian English, speech community, language variety, language markers, language stereotypes, dialects, social status) Appalachian English is one of the surviving nonstandard regional dialects of English in the United States. It is associated with residents of the Appalachian mountain range, particularly with West Virginia and eastern Kentucky. Its current distinctiveness from Standard American English stems both from the isolated physical environment and from the industrial economic development of the area. The mountains have served until recently as an effective geographical barrier against physical mobility, and the coming of industrial economic development (which focused on resource extraction such as coal and timber) has proved detrimental to the economic mobility of its residents (Banks 1980) . Dialects thrive in such physical and social isolation. Dialects are language varieties that are linguistically and generally also politically linked to a standardized language variety. The standard variety retains a degree of societal prestige through the official institutional support
doi:10.1017/s0047404500014548 fatcat:mhgjira2zjfkdchmyedmzhuiqm