Analysis of a Pittsburgher’s voicing of a Texan reinforces Dennis Preston’s observation that imitations of others’ dialects are often selective and inaccurate. This article argues that the activity of sounding Southern represented in this imitation is evaluated according to a set of norms that are different from the norms relevant to everyday, native uses of Southern speech. Sounding Southern in this sense does not mean adopting a Southern accent, but rather deploying a few morphosyntactic and prosodic devices in order to perform a stereotypical Southern character. Drawing on the idea of semiotic enregisterment, the author argues that there is more than one process of vernacular norm-formation; dialect styling is not (just) a matter of adopting or exaggerating the features of a dialect as it is used in routine ways, but rather, at least in some cases, a matter of adopting a specialized set of performance norms that overlap only slightly, if at all, with the norms that shape routine uses of the dialect.

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