LINGUIST List 23.3263

Wed Aug 01 2012

Review: Sociolinguistics: Schneider (2008)

Editor for this issue: Joseph Salmons <jsalmonslinguistlist.org>



Date: 01-Aug-2012
From: Richard Hallett <R-Hallettneiu.edu>
Subject: Varieties of English 2
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Announced at http://linguistlist.org/issues/19/19-1182.html

EDITOR: Schneider, Edgar W.TITLE: Varieties of English 2SUBTITLE: The Americas and the CaribbeanPUBLISHER: Mouton de GruyterYEAR: 2008

Richard W. Hallett, Linguistics Department, Northeastern Illinois University

SUMMARYIn the 'General introduction' (1-22) to this volume, which is the second in aseries of four volumes, Bernd Kortmann and Edgar W. Schneider discuss the goalof the volumes in this series and their accompanying CD-ROMs; i.e. to 'providecomprehensive up-to-date accounts of the salient phonological and grammaticalproperties of the varieties of English around the world' (1). The volumereviewed here focuses on 'all main national standard varieties, distinctiveregional, ethnic, and social varieties, major contact varieties (pidgins andcreoles), as well as major varieties of English as a Second Language' (2) foundin the Western Hemisphere. In the following chapter, 'Introduction: Varietiesof English in the Americas and the Caribbean' (23-33), Edgar W. Schneiderjustifies the classification and examination of the following varietiesaccording to the region in which they are used.

The next seventeen chapters focus on the phonological patterns of varieties ofEnglish in the New World: 'Standard American English pronunciation' (37-51) byWilliam A. Kretzschmar, Jr.; 'New England: Phonology' (52-66) by Naomi Nagy andJulie Roberts; 'New York, Philadelphia, and other northern cities: Phonology(67-86) by Matthew J. Gordon; 'Rural Southern white accents' (87-114) by Erik R.Thomas; 'The urban South: Phonology' (115-128) by Jan Tillery and Guy Bailey;'The West and Midwest: Phonology' (129-143) by Matthew J. Gordon; 'English inCanada: Phonology' (144-160) by Charles Boberg; 'Newfoundland English:Phonology' (161-180) by Sandra Clarke; 'African American Vernacular English:Phonology' (181-191) by Walter F. Edwards; 'Gullah: Phonology' (192-207) byTracey L. Weldon; 'Cajun Vernacular English: Phonology' (208-218) by SylvieDubois and Barbara M. Horvath; 'Chicano English: Phonology' (219-238) by OttoSanta Ana and Robert Bayley; 'Bahamian English: Phonology' (239-255) by BeckyChilds and Walt Wolfram; 'Jamaican Creole and Jamaican English: Phonology'(256-289) by Hubert Devonish and Otelemate G. Harry; 'Eastern CaribbeanEnglish-derived language varieties: Phonology' (290-311) by Michael Aceto;'Bajan: Phonology' (312-319) by Renée Blake; 'The creoles of Trinidad andTobago: Phonology' (320-338) by Valerie Youssef and Winford James; and 'Surinamecreoles: Phonology' (339-382) by Norval Smith and Vinije Haabo. After eachchapter is a set of exercises and study questions. At the end of this phonologysection is Edgar W. Schneider's 'Synopsis: Phonological variation in theAmericas and the Caribbean' (383-398), in which he states that each of the abovecontributors were asked to employ Wells' (1982) lexical sets to identify thevarious vowel types.

The second section focuses on the morphology and syntax of the varieties ofEnglish in the Americas and the Caribbean. Fourteen chapters comprise the bulkof the second half of this volume: 'Colloquial American English: Grammaticalfeatures' (401-427) by Thomas E. Murray and Beth Lee Simon; 'AppalachianEnglish: Morphology and syntax" (428-467) by Michael B. Montgomery; 'Rural andethnic varieties in the Southeast: Morphology and syntax' (468-491) by WaltWolfram; 'Newfoundland English: Morphology and syntax' (492-509) by SandraClark; 'African American Vernacular English: Morphology and syntax' (510-533) byWalt Wolfram; 'Earlier African American English: Morphology and syntax'(534-550) by Alexander Kautzsch; 'Gullah: Morphology and syntax' (551-571) bySalikoko S. Mufwene; 'Chicano English: Morphology and syntax' (572-590) byRobert Bayley and Otto Santa Ana; 'Bahamian English: Morphology and syntax'(591-608) by Jeffrey Reaser and Benjamin Torbert; 'Jamaican Creole: Morphologyand syntax' (609-644) by Peter L. Patrick; 'Eastern Caribbean English-derivedlanguage varieties: Morphology and syntax' (645-660) by Michael Aceto; 'Thecreoles of Trinidad and Tobago: Morphology and syntax' (661-692) by WinfordJames and Valerie Youssef; 'Surinamese creoles: Morphology and syntax' (693-731)by Donald Winford and Bettina Migge; and 'Belize and other central Americanvarieties: Morphology and syntax' (732-762) by Geneviève Escure. The book'sfinal chapter is Edgar W. Schneider's 'Synopsis: Morphological and syntacticvariation in the Americas and the Caribbean' (763-776).

EVALUATIONAs the goal of this volume is quite ambitious, i.e. to provide a wide-rangingoverview of the varieties of English in the Western Hemisphere, it is both tooeasy and quite unfair to criticize a lack of depth of analysis of any onevariety. Rather, the book is able to accomplish a broad survey of thesevarieties so that interested scholars may understand the relationships betweenand among the Englishes of this part of the world. As an example of such anunfair criticism, Gordon's chapter on Western and Midwestern American phonologyfails to mention the tensing of high lax vowels before the voiceless palatalfricative found in parts of the state of Indiana (see Ladefoged 1993:88), afeature with which this reviewer is very familiar. Again, to focus on suchminor omissions is to lose sight of the wealth of information this volumecontains; as Gordon specifically states at this beginning of his chapter, '…thisvast territory is by no means linguistically homogenous; indeed almost all ofthe speech characteristics described here occur variably across the regionsconsidered and across speakers within any given region' (129).

Concerning the phonology section of this volume, there is no bettercomprehensive yet digestible compilation on varieties of English in the Americasand the Caribbean than that found in this volume. The use of Wells' (1982)lexical sets in describing the vowels of each variety is not only important forconsistency, but also for easy cross-reference and comparison of the varieties. There are significant differences in the length of the chapters in thissection, e.g. the text of Blake's chapter on the phonology of Bajan, theEnglish-related creole spoken in Barbados, is only six pages in length, whilethe text of Smith and Haabo's chapter on the phonology of Surinamese creolesspans forty-two pages and includes sixty-eight tables comparing phonologicalfeatures of English, Sranan, Ndyuka, and Saramaccan.

While the phonology section is quite comprehensive and by nature employsuniformity of description, this consistency is lacking in the chapters onmorphology and syntax. The chapters in the second half of the book describevarious syntactic features of these Englishes, thereby removing the ease ofcomparison among the varieties offered by the phonology section. Likewise,there is not a direct correspondence to the chapters in the first half of thebook. For example, there are no chapters on the morpho-syntax of CajunVernacular English or Bajan. Nonetheless, this section does contain valuableinformation about varieties of English that are still under-researched.

Overall, this volume is a very helpful addition to the canon of world Englishesstudies. The synopses that follow both sections of the volume summarize and(re)present the main ideas discussed in the preceding chapters, each of which iswell chosen to provide a broad overview of varieties of English found in theAmericas and the Caribbean. Particularly useful are the exercises that followeach chapter, as well as the CD-ROM. The chapters and exercises will supplygreat homework and/or discussion points for classes on a variety of linguistictopics, e.g. world Englishes, dialectology, and language variation.

REFERENCESLadefoged, Peter. 1993. A course in phonetics, 3rd edition. Fort Worth:Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.

Wells, John C. 1982. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

ABOUT THE REVIEWERRichard W. Hallett is Professor and Coordinator of Linguistics atNortheastern Illinois University in Chicago. His research interestsinclude world Englishes, second language acquisition, sociolinguistics, andthe discourse of tourism. He is the co-author of 'Official TourismWebsites: A Discourse Analysis Perspective'.

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