Informative and entertaining essays on the accents, dialects, and speech patterns particular to Alabama
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.