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Subject: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives
Question: Dear Ask-A-Linguist Panelists, A friend and I were discussing how regional accents are becoming less and less common throughout the U.S. We noticed the Tidewater Accent, once prevalent throughout coastal Maryland and Virginia, is now nearly completely extinct with the exception of older speakers. We also noticed this patter in a number of other areas such as Boston, New York, and Baltimore. Baltimore no longer feels for lack of a better term like a "southern" city. We mused over the idea of finding a way to revive such accents once more, particularly among younger generations, to continue the culture and history that goes with those dialects and accents. Do you know of any such attempts at revival? Or better yet, how would one most effectively accomplish such a task? Purely hypothetical of course. Thanks, WG
Reply: Stigmatized dialects and even languages often paradoxically are a sign of solidarity, but also people may hide their knowledge of those dialects or languages from outsiders, and even from each other. However, if there is a way to celebrate linguistic diversity, there might be a chance of preserving, but probably not reviving, those dialects One example from my own experience concerns the Tohoku dialect of Japan, centered around Sendai. It's the kind of dialect that Japanese from Tokyo or Kyoto make fun of; my understanding is that when they translated Faulkner into Japanese, they used this dialect for some of the characters. While I was living there, I had the good fortune to attend a Sendai-ben (Sendai dialect) festival, with stories, letters, and skits. It was organized by a professor at Tohoku University who treasured the dialect (I think he might have been a native user). that is one strategy for preservation and also for changing attitudes.
Reply From: Susan D Fischer      click here to access email
Date: 16-Mar-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives    Nancy J. Frishberg     (15-Mar-2013)
  2. Re: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (15-Mar-2013)
  3. Re: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (15-Mar-2013)

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