Table of Contents
Georeferencing for Comparison
United States of America has had some astounding shifts and transformations throughout its years of evolution.
Fascinatingly, these changes are non-uniform. As our physical geography is gradually stabilizing, our country is becoming increasingly "functional", where our communities are created through connectedness (interactions) rather than relatedness (traits) (Lewis 1991, 608). By understanding these behavioral modifications, one can make an educational guess which parts of the US are characteristically "traditional", "voluntary", or even a transitioning region in today's distinctive, technological era (Zelinsky 1992). In addition, I georeferenced another map coming from a different perspective to further accentuate the outcomes of my investigation.
I surmised that finding my speech community first would create a foundation allowing for a starting point to reveal other aspects of the US that could separate or aggregate the states into groups (potential regions). With support through various discourses,i I was able to form the General English (also known as Standard English) speech community most concentrated in the North East Coast. From here, I was able to choose religions and behavioral variables that complemented my region while also highlighting other potential groups.
I would like to note that this is indeed a very general examination of the US, but the concept at hand is highly significant because it gives others the opportunity to implement my ideas towards their own. The dissection of the US from multiple sources can push for a mindful stimulation of thinking critically and creatively.
General English (GE) is the type of English that is taught and utilized in educational systemsii and are most likely implemented by “traditional regions”, which Zelinsky characterizes as “self-contained, endogamous, stable, and of long duration” (110). Even with some intermixture of people, it remains dominantly “synonymous with a particular tribe or group” (111). For my speech community, I expected the population to predominantly be of European descendants, consisting of Caucasians and some African Americans. Europeans strongly dictated the political and social formation of the US, and were responsible for much of the migration that occurred (i.e. slavery and trade) (18-20). As Zelinsky suggested, “They [Europeans] had at their disposal gang of slaves who had no choice but to learn a form of English [standard American English vocabulary (19)] and other facets of dominant culture” (18). Though their resilience did not stop them from forming their own culture, including their own dialect, many of them still choose to opt out of utilizing African American English (AAE) in professional public spaces. This only correlates with the idea that some African Americans employ GE more than AAE, while others do not. This can be re-examined when we discuss the relationships of religion types to GE and Substandard English (SSE; secondary type of English, like "improper" vocabulary or grammar). With this in mind, I chose lexical depictions (words or phrases making up a vocabulary) that were considered to be “proper English” used in education systems today to see where it is most predominant. This list included the proper use of "anymore", the unaccepted use of multiple modals (e.g., ought to, could be, etc.) in a sentence, and the rejection of fragment sentences.iii I suspected this region to be the “traditional region”.
Although I cannot provide any scholastic work to thoroughly support my observations, my results were quite exceptional. General English is used throughout the U.S. considering its indisputable reputation. However, it also demonstrates that this is most concentrated in the East Coast, particularly the North East (NE), and a very small portion of the West Coast; it is least predominant in the Central US. Conveying these differences also emphasizes the socioeconomic inequality that has been examined by Philips (2004). As she suggested, “…Those who speak the standard dialect of their national language will be able to get higher-paying jobs than those who do not speak it, because of its prestige” (476). The North East Coast is the most clustered area that showed rejection towards SSE (dialects formed outside of GE), while it is also one of the most popular and wealthiest regions of the US. Note that although GE does appear all over the East Coast that there are still some minimal differences that must be taken into account between the North and South side. My behavioral variables will juxtapose these variations.
Philips (2004) may be correct about socioeconomic inequalities partially resulting from differences in the usage (dialects) of the national language (GE) in the US. General/Standard English is seen as the most prestigious and norm of our country--and communities that predominantly use it are more likely to flourish economically. Unsurprisingly, the NE is predominantly populated with middle-class folks who share the “school speech community ideal”—that is—“representing the ‘elitist’ tradition of education” only focusing on GE and neglecting others, like the AAE (Morgan 2004, 12, 15). For instance, the main flourishing religion in the NE Coast is Conservative Judaism. There is outstanding evidence demonstrating the Jewish people to be of "high achievers in America" (Kamalipour and Carilli 1998). Kamalipour and Carili assert that by 1970, "sixty percent of all employed Jews were professional, technical managers or administrators" (105). Overall, they are portrayed as "the richest ethnic group... in history" (105). This comes with the assumption that they are GE speakers since they are stereotyped to "[take] education seriously" (105). Looking from a macro-perspective, the NE community generally consists of wealthier people with higher education and higher-paying jobs.
My religious groups displayed an interesting aspect between the level of education and how it could affect their usage of GE. The religions I chose were mainly based on four European influences [one with emphasis on African American (AA) culture given their early history of forced migration]; but I also included 2 other religions that were predominantly represented by Nonwhites/immigrants: Buddhism (Asian) and Catholicism (Hispanic/Latinos/Asians).iv By illustrating these, I emphasize the idea that SSE is more consistent in areas like the West Coast and Central US due to higher concentrations of foreign migrations.
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- geography social science research us regions united states regions division maps theory west coast sociology spatial studies arcgis arcmap data survey data collection data analysis