Sociolinguistic research has documented the change to rhoticity by white speakers in the American South, and the increase in rhoticity in New York City and New England. However, there has been scant investigation of rhoticity in New Orleans, Louisiana, which, as a linguistic island in the Gulf South argued to have strong historical ties to New York City, presents a particularly interesting site for investigation. The city's varieties of English have historically been nonrhotic, and this study investigates whether New Orleans remains marginal to the now-rhotic white South and whether it shares New York City patterns in /r/ realization. Apparent-time evidence suggests that the advancement of rhoticity has been slower than in both the South and New York. Younger people in the sample heavily favor rhoticity in formal reading passage speech style, but not in the less formal interview style, where age is not a significant predictor. Greater educational attainment and external cultural orientation are strongly predictive of rhoticity across speech styles. The continued presence of variability in /r/ realization across age, gender, and ethnoracial categories suggests that New Orleans's linguistic distinctiveness remains considerable.
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Christina Schoux Casey; Ya Heard Me? Rhoticity in Post-Katrina New Orleans English. American Speech 1 May 2016; 91 (2): 166–199. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-3633107
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