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Subject: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives
Question: Dear Ask-A-Linguist Panelists, A friend and I were discussing how regional accents are becoming less and less common throughout the U.S. We noticed the Tidewater Accent, once prevalent throughout coastal Maryland and Virginia, is now nearly completely extinct with the exception of older speakers. We also noticed this patter in a number of other areas such as Boston, New York, and Baltimore. Baltimore no longer feels for lack of a better term like a "southern" city. We mused over the idea of finding a way to revive such accents once more, particularly among younger generations, to continue the culture and history that goes with those dialects and accents. Do you know of any such attempts at revival? Or better yet, how would one most effectively accomplish such a task? Purely hypothetical of course. Thanks, WG
Reply: Dear WG, I'm not aware of any efforts (successful or otherwise) to revive a local accent or dialect. Perhaps another panelist is more tuned in to such an effort. I am aware of analysis of "language death" as communities lose a local language, typically in favor of a politically or educationally favored "world language". This has been documented for Scot's Gaelic in individual communities, among other languages. I'm also aware of language revival efforts, where linguists work with community leaders using texts collected many years prior. Elders who may still have knowledge of the language are engaged to provide formal instruction for young people to (re)gain a heritage language. Besides several Native American languages, Hebrew and almost 20 others are known to either be in revival or have successfully revived, according to the Wikipedia article (as of this writing).
Reply From: Nancy J. Frishberg      click here to access email
Date: 15-Mar-2013
Other Replies:
  1. Re: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives    Anthea Fraser Gupta     (15-Mar-2013)
  2. Re: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives    Susan D Fischer     (16-Mar-2013)
  3. Re: Regional Accent Revival Initiatives    Geoffrey Richard Sampson     (15-Mar-2013)

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