In order to provide a contemporary description of Appalachian English, this article investigates the (ING) variable in Appalachian speech, explaining both the linguistic and social constraints on variation. Data from 67 West Virginia speakers are qualitatively and quantitatively analyzed for grammatical context, preceding and following place of articulation, sociogeographic orientation, age, sex, ethnicity, social class, and interview context. Results indicate that the only linguistic conditioning factor for this speech community is the syntactic category. Socially, the patterns of variation are considerably more complex than the grammatical patterns. Reflecting the sociogeographic boundary found by previous scholars, a Southern-Northern divide exists in the production of variants: the Southern speakers have a higher rate of the alveolar variant than the Northern speakers. The other social factors work within this sociogeographic divide. Yet, contrary to most references to Appalachian rates of (ING), speakers in this sample are far from categorical, with rates ranging from 1% to 96% for the alveolar variant.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.