Where are the boundaries drawn between The North, The Midland and The South in the US when it comes to main dialect areas?
#113061. Asked by synlar. (Feb 23 10 11:25 AM)
Social scientists estimate the number of U.S. dialects range from a basic three - New England, Southern and Western/General America - to 24 or more. Some researchers go so far as to suggest it's actually impossible to count the number of dialects in the United States because under a loose definition of the term, thousands of cities, towns and groups have their own varieties or dialects.|
The authors of American English explain it this way:
"When people ask us what we do for a living, and we reply that we study American English dialects, one of the next questions inevitably is, "how many dialects are there?" This question is surprisingly difficult to answer, despite the fact that researchers have been investigating language variation in America for at least a century. Discrete boundaries between dialects are often difficult to determine, since dialects share many features with one another. In addition, even the smallest dialect areas are characterized by incredible heterogeneity. Speakers use different language forms - or identical forms at different percentage rates or in different ways - based not only on where they live but also on such factors as their social class, their ethnicity, their gender, and even whether or not they view their home region as a good place to live. Further, different dialect boundaries may emerge depending on which level of language we chose to focus on."
The primary boundary between the North and South begins somewhere in Central Delaware, extends westward near the old Mason-Dixon Line and continues approximately along the Ohio River. There are five original coastal centers from which most American dialects developed: Boston, Philadelphia, Tidewater Virginia, Charleston and New Orleans. By the end of the nineteenth century there were almost no foreign born residents in the South, but the Northern dialects were further enriched by other cultures which shaped their dialects.
U.S. DIALECT MAP:
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