Table of content
2. Southern American English
3. Analysis of examples of accented speech..
3.1. General analysis
3.2. Comparison of the speakers.
4. Reasons for differences of speech related to gender..
6. Works Cited
“Southern American English pronunciation differs from region to region, even from person to person, because speakers from different circumstances in and different parts of the United States commonly employ regional and social features to some extent even in formal situations”, William A. Kretzschmar Junior proclaimed in the Mouton textbook of Varieties of English (In: Schneider, 2008, p. 37). When researching Southern American English, it becomes quite obvious, that there is no common and typical standard Southern pronunciation and thus the quote seems to be valid. Nevertheless one can determine certain overall pronunciation features when listening to speakers of Southern American English. During my research I could also detect a tendency which led me to the following study question: In which way and why is there a difference in pronunciation between male and female speakers of Southern American English?
In the following I will be looking at male and female pronunciation with regard to the “g-dropping” Southern American English. Speech samples from a male and a female speaker will serve as an example in the course of my study. Standard American English will give the starting point from which I will deduce the pronunciation features. By Standard American English I mean the pronunciation that is employed by educated speakers in formal settings. My goal is to assess the phonological processes in the “g-dropping” of Southern pronunciation and to compare the results of the analysis of the male and the female speaker to explore a possible difference between the pronunciations of the sexes.
To achieve this goal I have divided my analysis into three main sections, each of them including various points. First, I will be looking at Southern American English in general, including the territory in which it is spoken and some overall facts concerning it. In the next section the specific pronunciation feature “g-dropping” will be looked at, by analyzing the speech samples of the male and the female speaker. This part will also contain a comparison of the results of the analysis. At last, in the main section of this research paper, I will point out possible reasons for the detected results concerning male and female speech and try to connect them to the speech samples at hand. In the end I will draw my conclusions.
2. Southern American English
Southern American English is a dialect which consists of several sub-dialects throughout the south. They make up the largest accent group in the United States. Their territory expands from the Delmarva Peninsula and goes as far as Western Texas, including Virginia, North and South Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi and Louisiana, although the exact limits are debatable and up to the researcher (Oomen, 1982, p. 60). Throughout this vast territory there is a considerable amount of dialectal diversity, due to the influence of languages of various immigrant groups in the course of the decades. Additionally there is great variation between regions, age or ethnic background of the speakers of the South. In recent decades, as the Urbanization of the South began and a lot of non-Southerners moved into the cities, certain traditionally Southern dialectal features have begun to disappear from the metropolitan areas. Thus, rural areas show these features to a greater degree than urban areas (Schneider, 2008, p. 90). Southern American English generally has a widespread recognition, which, according to several researches, is most negatively evaluated. Thus, speakers of Southern American English can experience consequences like negative stereotyping or linguistic discrimination. Good examples of educated speakers with southern accents are the former presidents Bill Clinton from Arkansas and Jimmy Carter from Georgia.
3. Analysis of examples of accented speech
3.1. General analysis
As to come to the analysis of the pronunciation feature which is generally called “g- dropping”, I have speech samples of two speakers of Southern American English. The first speaker is male, 59 years old, was born and grew up in a rural area around Alexandria, Mid- Louisiana. The second speaker is female, 63 years old and grew up in the same area, less rural but still not yet urban. Neither of them has spent time in another country, but stayed in the area of their birth. The female speaker works for the social security system and the male speaker is an agricultural worker. Both speakers read the same text, phrases and words out loud (q. v. appendix).
Generally one could determine three different types of pronunciation of the unstressed suffix ”-ing”. The first way of pronouncing “-ing” is as a voiced velar nasal, like we find it in the English consonant inventory (Kortmann, 2009, p. 65). It is produced through a complete obstruction of the airflow in the oral cavity. The velum is lowered and the air escapes through the nasal cavity. Its phonetic realization is [ɪŋ]. Examples for this in the research text in the pronunciation of the male speaker are the words heading [ˈhedɪŋ] (l. 27) or climbing [ˈkʰlaɪmɪŋ] (l. 38).
The second occurring pronunciation is the syllabic alveolar nasal [n], which can also be determined as progressive assimilation. Some consonants can become syllabic. When the vowel is dropped, the vocalic property is transferred to the consonants which then form the peak of the syllable. Mostly syllabic consonants are following a plosive.