A vivid commentary on Jewish survival and Jewish speech communities that will be enjoyed by the general reader, and is essential reading for students and researchers interested in the study of Middle Eastern languages, Jewish studies, and sociolinguistics.
In the early decades of the twentieth century, large numbers of African
American and White Southerners migrated from the rural South to the urban
Midwest as part of the most significant internal migration in US history.
This is a linguistic study of the Southern migrant experience in Detroit, a
city with a reputation of being the most racially polarized and
residentially segregated urban area in America. Although African American
and Appalachian White southern migrants and their descendants are two
groups that are separated by ethnicity, they share a regional affiliation
with the South as well as Southern cultural characteristics. This situation
provides a unique opportunity to examine ways in which the interaction of
ethnicity and regional affiliation give rise to systematic patterns of
language variation and change and phonetic restructuring as a result of
language contact. Linguistic effects of large-scale migration for these two
Southern groups across three generations of speakers are described and
compared to the surrounding dialect norms of Midwestern Whites, through
acoustic analysis of portions of the vowel systems. The quantitative
acoustic analysis is interpreted with reference to rich qualitative data
obtained through the author's four years of ethnographic fieldwork.