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The effect of borders on the linguistic production and perception of regional identity in Louisville, Kentucky

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Title: The effect of borders on the linguistic production and perception of regional identity in Louisville, Kentucky
Author(s): Cramer, Jennifer S.
Director of Research: Bhatt, Rakesh M.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s): Bhatt, Rakesh M.
Doctoral Committee Member(s): Bokamba, Eyamba G.; Lo, Adrienne; Preston, Dennis R.
Department / Program: Linguistics
Discipline: Linguistics
Degree Granting Institution: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree: Ph.D.
Genre: Dissertation
Subject(s): Perceptual Dialectology Folk Linguistics Identity Region Language Attitudes Southern Vowel Shift
Abstract: A great deal of scholarly research has addressed the issue of dialect mapping in the United States. These studies, usually based on phonetic or lexical items, aim to present an overall picture of the dialect landscape. But what is often missing in these types of projects is an attention to the borders of a dialect region and to what kinds of identity alignments can be found in such areas. This lack of attention to regional and dialect border identities is surprising, given the salience of such borders for many Americans. This salience is also ignored among dialectologists, as nonlinguists‟ perceptions and attitudes have been generally assumed to be secondary to the analysis of “real” data, such as the phonetic and lexical variables used in traditional dialectology. Louisville, Kentucky is considered as a case study for examining how dialect and regional borders in the United States impact speakers‟ linguistic acts of identity, especially the production and perception of such identities. According to Labov, Ash, and Boberg (2006), Louisville is one of the northernmost cities to be classified as part of the South. Its location on the Ohio River, on the political and geographic border between Kentucky and Indiana, places Louisville on the isogloss between Southern and Midland dialects. Through an examination of language attitude surveys, mental maps, focus group interviews, and production data, I show that identity alignments in borderlands are neither simple nor straightforward. Identity at the border is fluid, complex, and dynamic; speakers constantly negotiate and contest their identities. The analysis shows the ways in which Louisvillians shift between Southern and non-Southern identities, in the active and agentive expression of their amplified awareness of belonging brought about by their position on the border.
Issue Date: 2011-01-14
URI: http://hdl.handle.net/2142/18426
Rights Information: Copyright 2010 Jennifer S. Cramer
Date Available in IDEALS: 2011-01-14
Date Deposited: December 2
 

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