American Speech 80.2 (Summer 2005) Contents

Below find abstracts and contents for the summer 2005 issue of American Speech, volume 80, number 2. Members of the American Dialect Society receive the journal (and one annual Publication of the American Dialect Society) as part of their membership. If you are not yet a member, you can join here.

Words Crisscrossing the Sea: How Words Have Been Borrowed between England and America
Allen Walker Read

ABSTRACT: [Read’s previously unpublished Joseph S. Schick lecture is] a compilation of clippings and text in Allen’s inimitable hand. Written in the coherent and elegant style that marks all of Allen’s work, the document seemed to me to contain many records of the relations of English and American speech that were far from common knowledge. In particular, it revealed positive reactions of the English to the new American lexicon, quite different from the condemnation that we have come to think of as normal.

German Substrate Effects in Wisconsin English: Evidence for Final Fortition
Thomas Purnell, Joseph Salmons, and Dilara Tepeli

ABSTRACT: A once predominately German-speaking community in Watertown, Wisconsin, shows distinct phonetic and phonological traces of that immigrant heritage in the speech of its English-speaking monolinguals. Acoustic and perceptual studies suggest that speakers do not produce all the expected cues for English final laryngeal distinctions, nor do they exploit those cues to the same degree as a set of control speakers. This instance, for which the language varieties and contact situation involved are all well understood, provides good evidence for structural influence from a substrate and provides a challenge to conventional views of language contact.

Low Back Vowel Merger in Missouri Speech: Acoustic Description and Explanation
Tivoli Majors

ABSTRACT: Across much of the United States, the phonemic contrast between the vowels of cot and caught is being lost through a sound change known as the low back vowel merger. This paper examines the spread of this merger in the state of Missouri. Acoustic examination of F0, F1, F2, F3, and vowel duration reveals that speakers in the greater St. Louis area maintain the phonemic distinction between a and O, while in much of the state, this distinction is being lost or diminished. In addition to static formant measures, the formant trajectories of the two vowels are examined, and it is found that in St. Louis speech, the VC consonantal transition of F2 is accomplished more quickly for O than for a. Although the F2 transitions of the two vowels differ, their overall spectral shapes are more similar than other comparable vowel pairs such as æ and E, which are not undergoing widespread merger. The dynamic similarity between a and O is posited as a partial explanation for why this particular merger is spreading so rapidly throughout the United States.

The Uses and Meanings of the Female Title Ms.
Janet M. Fuller

ABSTRACT: This article examines the use of the female title Ms. by students, faculty, and staff at a Midwestern university in the United States using data generated with the written survey used by Donna Lillian (1993) in a similar study in Canada. Findings show that faculty are fairly consistent in their understanding of Ms. as a neutral title to be used for all women and are more likely to choose this title than students and staff. Student responses show a wide range of meanings for Ms., with the meanings ‘young’ and ‘single’ being the most common. Female students were far less likely to select Ms. than male students, showing a gender gap in the student data that is not seen in the staff and faculty responses. These data show multiple meanings and patterns of female title use in the United States today, with little evidence pointing toward a decrease in this variation.

Among the New Words
Wayne Glowka, Kathryn Ball, Scott Daniel, Debra Dent, Charles Farmer, Nicole Hensel, James McAfee, Lee Ogletree, Jessica Rossin, and David K. Barnhart

badly sourced
blue state
poorly sourced
purple state
red state

Milestones in the History of English in America by Allen Walker Read, edited by Richard W. Bailey
Michael Adams