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Summary Details

Query:   American Dialects
Author:  Stan Anonby
Submitter Email:  click here to access email
Linguistic LingField(s):   Sociolinguistics

Summary:   Regarding query:


The question I had was why uneducated white people on the sitcom Home Improvement speak like southerners.

There were various interesting, interrelated answers, which I'll list.

1) There exists a "redneck accent", the speech of rural whites. This accent
is perceived as funny and/or irritating.

2) A related reason given was that there is a "hillbilly accent". This
hillbilly accent has been around TV since the Beverly Hillbillies, and
has been very successful in sitcoms.

3) Many working class white people in the North are descended from
Southerners who immigrated during WWII. An example given was Ypsilanti,
a suburb of Detroit was nicknamed Ypsyntucky because so many of its
residents were immigrants from Kentucky.

4) Many African Americans immigrated north around the same time and joined
the working ranks. Their speech is similar to that of white southerners,
and features of it spread throughout all the working class.

Stan Anonby

LL Issue: 16.1469
Date Posted: 09-May-2005
Original Query: Read original query


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