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"Buenos dias", "buenas noches" -- this was the first words in a foreign language I heard in my life, as a three-year old boy growing up in developing post-war Western Germany, where the first gastarbeiters had arrived from Spain. Fascinated by the strange sounds, I tried to get to know some more languages, the only opportunity being TV courses of English and French -- there was no foreign language education for pre-teen school children in Germany yet in those days. Read more



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Ask-A-Linguist Message Details

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).
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_revived_languages
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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