This study replicates Dennis Preston's folk-dialectology research to determine how speakers from Memphis, Tennessee, view their speech and that of speakers from Northern and Western states on correctness and pleasantness dimensions and how regional and ethnic speech stereotypes affect their evaluations. Results suggest that Memphians consider each region significantly different from the others on language correctness scales and that Southern regions are less “correct” than other regions. However, no regions are rated significantly different for language pleasantness. Such a finding, which elevates regional pleasantness despite regional incorrectness, is not surprising given similar findings elsewhere but does contradict Memphians' behavior when listening to actual speech samples of Southern-shifted vowel tokens where they rate their own speech least educated and pleasant. Intra-Southern differences in ratings on these folk-dialectology tasks, those that appear to demark rural-versus-urban association, are explored as potentially underlying this contrast in behavior. In addition, while they show productively similar vowel systems in Memphis, differences in dialect perceptions between Southern African American and white raters are explored. Finally, to see how Western dialect experience affects participants' pleasantness and correctness ratings, the article also examines how state ratings differed for speakers from Reno, Nevada, compared to Memphians.
Skip Nav Destination
Research Article| November 01 2006
CORRECTNESS, PLEASANTNESS, AND DEGREE OF DIFFERENCE RATINGS ACROSS REGIONS
American Speech (2006) 81 (4): 358–386.
Valerie Fridland, Kathryn Bartlett; CORRECTNESS, PLEASANTNESS, AND DEGREE OF DIFFERENCE RATINGS ACROSS REGIONS. American Speech 1 November 2006; 81 (4): 358–386. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2006-025
Download citation file: