Thomas E. Nunnally’s fascinating volume presents essays by linguists who examine with affection and curiosity the speech varieties occurring both past and present across Alabama. Taken together, the accounts in this volume offer an engaging view of the major features that characterize Alabama’s unique brand of southern English.
Written in an accessible manner for general readers and scholars alike, Speaking of Alabama includes such subjects as the special linguistic features of the Southern drawl, the “phonetic divide” between north and south Alabama, “code-switching” by African American speakers in Alabama, pejorative attitudes by Alabama speakers toward their own native speech, the influence of foreign languages on Alabama speech to the vibrant history and continuing influence of non-English languages in the state, as well as ongoing changes in Alabama’s dialects.
Adding to these studies is a foreword by Walt Wolfram and an afterword by Michael B. Montgomery, both renowned experts in southern English, which place both the methodologies and the findings of the volume into their larger contexts and point researchers to needed work ahead in Alabama, the South, and beyond. The volume also contains a number of useful appendices, including a guide to the sounds of Southern English, a glossary of linguistic terms, and online sources for further study.
Language, as presented in this collection, is never abstract but always examined in the context of its speakers’ day-to-day lives, the driving force for their communication needs and choices. Whether specialist or general reader, Alabamian or non-Alabamian, all readers will come away from these accounts with a deepened understanding of how language functions between individuals, within communities, and across regions, and will gain a new respect for the driving forces behind language variation and language change.
List of Illustrations
Editor’s Preface, Note to Linguists, and Acknowledgments
Thomas E. Nunnally
1. Exploring Language in Alabama
Thomas E. Nunnally
2. Multilingual Alabama
Michael D. Picone
3. Southern American English in Alabama
Catherine Evans Davies
4. Extreme North Alabama: Cultural Collisions and Linguistic Fallout
Thomas E. Nunnally and Guy Bailey
5. Just What Is the Southern Drawl?
6. The Heart of Dixie Is in Their Vowels: The Relationship between Culture and Language in Huntsville, Alabama
7. The Monophthongization of [aɪ] in Elba and the Environs: A Community Study
Anna Head Spence
8. To [a:] or Not to [a:] on the Gulf Coast of Alabama
9. “They Sound Better Than We Do”: Language Attitudes in Alabama
J. Daniel Hasty
10. Code-Switching Between African American and Standard English: The Rules, the Roles, and the Rub
Kimberly Johnson with Thomas E. Nunnally
11. College Writers as Alabama Storytellers: Cultural Effects on Academic Writing
12. Tsalagi Language Revitalization and the Echota Cherokee
Afterword: Some Thoughts about Ways Ahead
Michael B. Montgomery
Appendix A. The Sounds of English and Southern English
Appendix B. A Glossary of Select Linguistic Terms
Appendix C. Web Sources for Further Study
List of Contributors