Hans Kurath's 1939 Linguistic Atlas of New England reported a significant east-west dialect contrast along the Green Mountains of Vermont. In 1987, using data from 1960s fieldwork for the Dictionary of American Regional English, Craig Carver found the contrast remained intact a generation later. Such results reflect the enduring influence of eighteenth-century settlers, known as the Principle of First Effective Settlement or the “Founder Effect.” To determine the current status of the east-west dialect contrast and whether the Founder Effect is still present, the authors examined 62 speakers along the border in both real and apparent time. The real-time results show that, among older speakers, Kurath's east-west line of traditional New England features has moved eastward to the state border of New Hampshire. The apparent-time results show that many traditional eastern variants are receding among younger speakers, and these linguistic changes are reflecting and constructing significant social changes occurring in this region. For about two centuries, the east-west contrasts of the early European settlements were faithfully transmitted to each new generation. But now, among the current generations of speakers, the Founder Effect in northern New England is rapidly dissipating.
Farewell to the Founders: Major Dialect Changes Along the East-West New England Border
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James N. Stanford, Thomas A. Leddy-Cecere, Kenneth P. Baclawski; Farewell to the Founders: Major Dialect Changes Along the East-West New England Border. American Speech 1 May 2012; 87 (2): 126–169. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-1668190
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