The American South has undergone unprecedented change over the last half century, including the dynamics of ethnic group configuration and ethnolinguistic variation. This article considers symbolic dimensions of language and ethnicity representing three different types of ethnic group situations in the South. Two of the situations, involving Native American Indians and African Americans, represent long-standing ethnic contact situations that are being reconfigured over time and place in the American South; the third situation involves an emerging ethnolinguistic variety related to the more recent influx of large numbers of immigrants from Mexico and Central America. Demographic, economic, social, and cultural-ideological variables come into play in each case, but the relative contribution of these factors varies for different situations. It is further essential to recognize the intersection of sociohistorical and sociopsychological factors with the dynamics of linguistic structures and properties that has led to different outcomes in the ethnolinguistic configuration of various groups. Though the moniker “New South” may be applicable to the contemporary configuration of language and ethnicity compared with the past, we demonstrate how each situation is also unique and complex in its own right.

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