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Review of  Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English


Reviewer: John K McCullough
Book Title: Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English
Book Author: Jeffrey P. Williams Edgar W. Schneider Peter Trudgill Daniel Schreier
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Historical Linguistics
Sociolinguistics
Typology
Issue Number: 32.3242

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SUMMARY

Chapter 1: Introduction

“Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English”, edited by Jeffrey P. Williams, Edgar W. Schneider, Peter Trudgill, and Daniel Schreier, is the continuation of the first volume of “The Lesser Known Varieties of English” published in 2010, exploring the documentation and designation of minority Englishes around the world and contextualizing the historical and typological factors that support their recognition as “lesser-known varieties of English” (LKVEs). The volume’s purpose, as stated in the introduction by the editors (Ch. 1) is an extension of the first volume’s objective of “the documentation of overlooked and understudied varieties of English” and have “included more varieties that have a deeper chronology…explored the boundaries of the upper extent of the genesis of ‘new’ varieties” (3). These volumes encompass the interests of several subdisciplines of linguistics, including but not limited to dialectology, language birth and death, language contact, typology, and variation and change.

The 13 contributions are grouped geographically rather than with any attempt at typological generalization, and are subgrouped regionally as Part I) Europe (Chs. 2-4), Part II) The Americas (Chs. 5-8), and Part III) Asia and the Pacific. The chapters’ main prompt was to present a documentation of the variety within the framework of providing (i) sociohistorical origins, (ii) sociodemographic data, (iii) structural features and (iv) assessment of the future of the variety (3), overall evaluating the alignment with the 8 LKVE characteristics outlined in the previous volume (Schreier, Trudgill, Schneider and Williams 2010). Special attention has been given in this volume to typological aspect (8) “are very often endangered”: the editors make it clear that they are aligned with emerging scholarly discourses (e.g. Wolfram 2008) that challenge the assumptive rhetoric of established canons of language endangerment in the case of marginalized English varieties. What follows is a summary of each contribution’s documentation and an evaluation of the volume as a whole.

Part 1 Europe

Chapter 2: Maltese English

Chapter 2 documents the variety of English spoken on the islands of Malta, a Maltese English (MaltE) that actually covers a continuum of contact features and code switching and is used as a salient identity marker, contextualized by factors such as L1, socioeconomic strata, and age. In their contribution, Krug (Ch. 2) establishes the expansive nature of such a cover term, and focuses the sketch on “acrolectal Malt E”, which represents an idealized variety elicited from data from the Maltese component of the International Corpus of English (ICE). MaltE exhibits considerable stylistic variation from surrounding varieties in Malta, “sometimes consciously used, but often below the level of awareness” (13) and acts as a second language in the nation, while Maltese is the L1 for around 93 percent of the population. MaltE is not overtly codified; the exonormative English standard remains British Received Pronunciation (RP). The phonetic features of MaltE (e.g. inter-sonorant voicing from language contact: /z/ in ‘basic’ from Malt. ‘bażic’; It. ‘base’) and lexical features are more salient in the acrolect than morphosyntactic markedness. However, covert prestige for the variety is increasing, and with it the use of morphosyntactic features and discourse markers to co-index local Maltese identity and formal education. Krug concludes that MaltE is approaching ‘endonormative stabilization’ (Schneider 2007) as an ‘indigenized L2’ (Kortmann and Lunkenheimer 2012) as it accumulates overt prestige.

Chapter 3: Gibraltar English

The third chapter provides an overview of the English of Gibraltar, a small territorial island located off the southern point of the Iberian peninsula known for its tourism economy and complex national identity of British loyalty in deeply Spanish sovereign territory. Although English is the only official language, it exists in a relative heteroglossia with both Spanish and the local variety Yanito, both of which have had effects on Gibraltar English and complexified notions of prestige and linguistic identity in the region. As Gibraltar has historically been a harbor for multiple ethnic groups and occupation throughout history, notably Italian and Spanish until British sovereignty in 1830, it is an artifact of multilingual mixing with nationalism increasingly tied to language choice. Levey provides a survey of features that distinguish this variety of English, with many previously marked features (e.g. mergers of the kit/fleece, foot/goose, lot/thought, and trap/strut vowels) being lost in younger generations with more non-domestic English exposure. Consonantal features are also moving away from non-English phonology in younger speakers as can be seen in loss of merged phonemes /b/ /v/ and /ʃ/ /t/ʃ/, and disappearance of the “Spanish coloured trill [r]” in the non-rhotic variety. Gibraltar English has high degrees of codeswitching in four patterns (Levey Ch. 3): (i) alternation (between participants); (ii) (intrasentential syntactic) combination; (iii) (lexical) insertion; and (iv) insertion of ritualized (expression). Yanito as a local variety with high covert prestige is emblematic of the metalinguistc awareness and control of (especially younger) Gibraltarians, wherein speakers see no incongruence of Gibraltarian and British identity intertwined with Spanish language and culture.

Chapter 4: Irish Traveller English

Chapter 4 concerns Irish Traveller English (TE), a variety representative of the eponymous nomadic ethnic group in Ireland, whose identity is typified both by its insecure legal status and the use of the language variety as a deliberately obfuscating cryptolect to prevent out-group comprehension. The current study by Rieder is drawn from a forty thousand word corpus study from an ethnographic project, which provides much of the context for the group, i.e. their history (coalesced from the first half of the 19th century), placement in the modern Irish socioeconomic and cultural landscape, and the effect of their itinerant nature and tight in-group social network on the variety. TE retains many archaic features of Irish English (IE) that are recessive, with the variety holding a high covert prestige despite some accommodation of the variety towards an IE metropolitan variety. These archaic features can be most strongly observed in the phonology, especially regarding frequency of schwa centralization/reduction, lack of participation in the foot-strut split, verbal apheresis for unstressed prefixes and metathesis. TE also has highly marked word stress (penultimate) and intonation (HLH) as a distinct prosodic shibboleth. The variety deviates from IE morphosyntactically and lexically as well, particularly with its retention of archaic forms and the Northern Subject Rule (Rieder Ch 4); these features seen as evidence/the result of a unique family network structure with high solidarity in a marginalized community.

Part 2 The Americas

Chapter 5: American Indian English

The fifth chapter describes the characteristics of American Indian English (AIE), which is a heterogeneous LKVE with up to four million speakers, primarily those with indigenous heritage. Although Native American and First Nations languages have been the study of robust linguistic and anthropological studies, the variety of English intersecting with these cultures and minority languages lacks the same depth of academic research. This is in part due to the historical genocide and stigmatization of indigenous cultures and languages in North America, as well as continuing contemporary marginalization of natives, e.g. the aftereffects of non-voluntary ‘civilizing’ boarding schools for indigenous youth. Like many other LKVEs, AIE is increasingly seen as a symbol of pride and belonging in the community with high covert prestige. AIE is non-monolithic; however, Coggshall gives three main features that index the variety as well as distinguish it from other non-standard English speech communities and features: (i) a relatively small pitch range, (ii) glottal stop insertion, and lack of gendering in third-person pronouns. AIE prosody is typified by a smaller pitch range, high rising terminal in declarative sentences, and syllable-timed utterances (cf. English stress-timed). Glottal stops replace stops in AIE, but individual varieties differentiate whether this is affected by voicing and intra-word position. Pronominal gender loss is variable; however, the chapter does not detail if there is an unmarked form or preferential expression of this feature. The chapter concludes that AIE will exist as long as American Indians exist as separate social entities, but the de-isolation and urbanization of communities may affect maintenance of the variety.

Chapter 6: Bequia English

Chapter 6 documents the English of Bequia, a small and relatively isolated island located in the Eastern Caribbean with a population of around five thousand. Similar to other Caribbean histories, the island had passed from French to English rule with slave-based colonial labor throughout; the modern sociocultural situation can be described as “racially and ethnically mixed” (Price 1988) with social identity based on affiliation with local villages and communities. Bequia English (BE) co-exists with a local English-based creole, which characterizes an isoglossic creole continuum based on geographic area (i.e. Southside, Paget Farm, Southside, Mount Pleasant, and Hamilton). In terms of phonology, the variety is variably rhotic and also exhibits marked stridentization and palatalization, with a prosody that is “characteristically Caribbean” (Walker and Meyerhoff Ch. 6). The bulk of attention is given to the morphosyntax, as BE contains many creole or post-creolized features (depending on an individual speaker’s placement on the continuum), such as past marker ‘bin’ and complementizer ‘fə’. The same pronominal forms can be systematically used throughout as subjects, objects, and possessives, and reflexive pronouns have a variable form of the general pronoun combined with ‘-self’ (e.g ‘weself’). Some of the unique features of the variety (e.g. three-way existential construction based on village) are at risk of being lost as the island opens up more to outside influence and younger speakers acquire greater (socioeconomic and geographic) mobility.

Chapter 7: Saban English

Chapter 7 follows up with another Caribbean variety, Saban English (SE), characterized by the small size and isolation of the island of Saba. Unlike Bequia, Saba’s rugged physiography discouraged a tourism industry until relatively recently, also fostering isolation and a lack of intra-island communication between the four main communities: The Bottom, Windwardside, St. Johns, and Hell’s Gate. While Saba has briefly been under English rule, the island became a permanent Dutch municipality in the early 19th century. Identity in Saba centers around a colonial social framework of race (Williams and Myrick Ch. 7) where English, Dutch, and African languages were tied to ethnicity and class, and later to village affiliation. Ideologies of language decay are attributed to an increase in mobility for younger speakers, but SE also has become emblematic of a distinct Saban national identity in William’s (2012) Euro-Caribbean Anglophone Linguistic Area (ECALA), with its covert prestige and national pride providing variety maintenance. SE vowels tend to be lowered and monophthongized (cf. fronted diphthong price), the consonant system has plosive glottalization throughout, and the variety has socially-indexed rhoticity, wherein speakers with more education trend towards r-fulness. SE morphosyntax is comparable with ECALA varieties overall; however, its usage of a-prefixing to indicate progressive is a marked feature. Also of note is the use of prepositions ‘by’ or ‘to’ for locative “at”, which may be an effect of the Dutch substrate.

Chapter 8: St. Eustatius English

Chapter 8 continues the survey of the Caribbean with the Statian English spoken on the island of St. Eustatius; as the island was a commercial center of the Dutch Caribbean rather than a planation society like many of the surrounding islands, Aceto notes that the dialect is distinct and understudied, with his 2006 work representing the first focused publication on the variety. Although Dutch (language and nationalism) is encouraged, Statian English is the ubiquitous native language of the approximately two thousand residents. Statian English, called simply English by Statians, contains features corroborating Mufwene’s (2000, 2001) view of creolization as a social process wherein the speaker population proportions create “dialect creole varieties” (Aceto 2003) (e.g. the Bahamas) than a creole proper (cf. Antigua). Statian lacks many of the typical Caribbean creole features (making it typologically unique compared to surrounding varieties), with its total lack of preverbal past-tense markers (e.g. ‘bin’, ‘mi(n)’, ‘woz’, ‘di(d)’) being an exceptional absence. Because of the use of English as a commercial lingua franca throughout the history of the island, creole-like features can be seen as later language contact with St. Kitts rather than the variety decreolizing since emancipation. Aceto notes that decreolization itself is a subpar model to account for the types of language change and evolution occurring on St. Eustatius and other Caribbean islands often seen as loci of creole languages.

Chapter 9: The English of Gustavia, St. Barthélemy

Chapter 9 covers another Caribbean English, that of the port city Gustavia on the French island of St. Barthélemy (St. Bartholomew or St. Barths/Barts). The Leeward island has a population of approximately 2.3 thousand, with its Afro-European demographic being the chief community of speakers for Gustavian English (GE)—its remaining, mostly white population Francophone. English has had a history in St. Barths since 1785 where it was used alongside French and Swedish, but began to diverge and koineize as quickly as 1785-1815. Because the island was centered around port trade and not plantations, the resulting slave to free persons population meant that the speech of slaves, freed persons of color, and later Afro-Caribbeans was relatively similar to Anglophone whites on the island and less similar to Caribbean English Creoles (CECs). In fact Decker states that GE lacks any evidence of (de)creolization, sharing more features with the English of Ireland, Scotland, and Northern England. Compared to CECs, GE has considerable variation in open syllable vowels, and its inventory contains non-CEC phonemes including trap and strut vowels. Few CEC-associated lexical items are used in GE, and Decker finds that the community may be shifting towards French and an “erosion of their English fluency” (Decker Ch. 9). Morphosyntactically, GE also more closely resembles non-Caribbean Englishes than CECs—Decker explains the few similarities as exceptional or from contact effects. GE represents a unique non-plantation variety of Caribbean English that is indicative of early-stage African and European contact where slaves acquired English through close contact and having similar population proportion to Anglophone whites.

Chapter 10: Anglo-Paraguayan English

The tenth chapter concerns the English of the Anglo-Paraguayan community, specifically the heritage language of the descendants of Australian immigrants to the country, themselves a socialist group who attempted (but ultimately failed) to establish a communist society. While an exceptional inception of a speech community in its own right, the situation is further complexified by the heteroglossic situation of Paraguay which includes Spanish, Guarani (Tupo-Guarani), the mixed Guarani-Spanish jopará, and English. Due to internal conflicts of the community which centered around teetotalism, totalitarianism, and the requirement of maintaining a non-miscegenation “color line”, the settlers split into two camps: New Australia and Colonia Cosme. While the settlements had different trajectories of language shift and mixing, both are unique in that they represent a “well-organized English speaking community shift[ing] from English to an indigenous language”. Second-generation Paraguayan English (PAE) was non-rhotic with voiceless intervocalic /t/, indicating that the Cosme PAE in particular closely resembled British Standard English. Later generations diverged, gaining postvocalic /r/ and intervocalic voiced /t/, as well as losing the lax distinction between ‘kit’ and ‘fleece’ vowels. Third and fourth generations also include Spanish (final consonant cluster reduction) and Guarani (glottal stop insertion) contact features. As expected from extended contact, PAE includes significant non-English loans, and a few Australian English terms are retained as community shibboleths (e.g. ‘tucker’). Perez-Inofuentes concludes with a reframing of English as a ubiquitously “killer language” (Mufwene 2008), since PAE’s trajectory of indigenous language supplanting prestige language indicates that the social mobility value of language does not ensure its local instrumental value.

Chapter 11: Gullah West: Texas Afro-Seminole Creole

Chapter 11 surveys the Texas Afro-Seminole Creole (Seminole or ASC), an English-lexified creole derived from the Sea Island Creole (Gullah, Geechee, or SIC) spoken along the southeastern United States coast. ASC is the language of the Afro-Seminole indigenous community; due to the community’s historical independence and isolation, the variety is much more conservative of its original features than SIC. Hancock posits a common ancestor of this and several other Atlantic-based English-lexified creoles as Guinea Coast Creole English (GCCE). This GCCE was a product of (creole-like) levelling and became a “common denominator” variety which was transported through the slave trade to the Atlantic plantation colonies, but the historical and geographic isolation of Gullah produced a particular type of Black language. The ASC branch developed from the integration of Black and Native American escapees into Spanish Florida, who were then sent west after the Third Seminole War. ASC lacks the non-English allophones (Turner 1949) and much of the African-derived lexicon of SIC, instead having Spanish and American Indian loans (e.g. ‘banyuh’; Sp. ‘baño’), but shares most of its other features with (historical) Gullah, including complementizer ‘fuh’, preverbal negator ‘no’, and Atlantic anglophone creole lexical items such as ‘teet’ ‘tooth’ and ‘nuff’ ‘plenty of’. Both SIC and ASC continue to go through language shift from de-isolation and contact, the former continuing to assimilate to nearby varieties (i.e. anglicizing) and ASC declining due to lack of intergenerational transmission.

Part 3 Asia and the Pacific

Chapter 12: Palmerston Island English

Chapter 12 documents the English of the isolated Palmerston Island, an atoll in the Cook Islands with a current population of less than one hundred individuals. The island is characterized by its near-total isolation and restrictive limits on visitor and tourist interactions; this makes it possible to “(a) record all Palmerston Islanders, and (b) track all external influences on the language” (Hendery Ch 12). Three main familial groups exist on the island but with little dialect variation between them, with the main dichotomy being between northern ‘beachfellas’ and southern ‘bush people’. The islanders also delineate themselves from other Cook Island speech communities and maintain negative ideologies towards those surrounding Englishes. Basilectal Palmerston Island English (PIE) contains phonological features similar to Cook Island Māori (e.g. no labio- or interdental fricatives). The pronominal system uses English forms grafted onto the Polynesian systems of the region, producing syncretic elements, e.g. the dual third-person mixed sex form ‘himshe’. Other Cook Island Māori substrate influence or language contact effects include predicate fronting and lexical items. Several semantically shifted or archaic retentions from earlier English varieties are also found, combining with PIE’s systems of relatively flexible word class and reduplication (e.g. ‘chuck-chuck’ ‘to do something enthusiastically). While Palmerston Island is an invaluable resource in understanding the mechanisms of language contact and genesis in Pacific Englishes, its environmental vulnerability threatens to displace the islanders to New Zealand, where the variety will likely not be maintained.

Chapter 13: Pasifika Englishes in New Zealand

Chapter 13 describes the forms of English spoken by Polynesian populations of New Zealand, with about two hundred and sixty-six thousand individuals or about seven percent of the NZ population. Because of the relative socioeconomic mobility afforded in NZ compared many of the islands of Oceania, there has been consistent migration to NZ which has caused a general decline in Polynesian island population as well as speaker numbers of indigenous languages compared to the reinforced status of English as the language of education and administration. The Pasifika English (PE) of NZ is a direct result of generations of migration from Polynesia and Oceania into NZ, with generational divides often showing different stratifications of multilingualism between Polynesian varieties, English, and PE. PE is necessarily a heterogeneous variety in order to encapsulate the pan-ethnic identity of its speakers, including non-Polynesian Fijians; however, a shared set of features differentiates it from New Zealand English (NZE) and Māori English (ME). This includes a relatively small consonantal inventory, use of non-prevocalic /r/, and monophthongization in most vowels. Morphosyntactic features consist of unmarked plurals and nonstandard agreement of third-person plurals, and expectedly PE exhibits high amount of substrate lexical borrowing and code-switching. The authors note that the variety is increasing in positive indexical value and representation for younger Pacific Islanders, with a possibility of diglossia developing as shifts towards English L1 proficiency and less Polynesian language L1 intergenerational transmission occur in the diaspora.

Chapter 14: Palauan English

The final chapter concludes with the history and sociolinguistic situation of the Republic of Palau and Palauan English (PalE). The independent nation state is comprised of about 350 islands with a population of twenty thousand and a long history of colonial control, settler migration, and emergence of the anglophone speech community. Britain and Mastumoto draw on Schneider’s (2007) postcolonial ‘Dynamic model’ to situate Palau and its nascent English in the context of American colonialism, considering four constitutive parameters: (1) sociopolitical background, (2) identity constructions, (3) sociolinguistic conditions and (4) linguistic effects. Palauan, an Austronesian language, underwent contact with English in the post-World War II period, producing a diglossic system from which PalE emerges. PalE shares many features with its closest anglophone neighbor of Philippine English (PhilE), including high variability of /a/, lack of aspiration in voiceless stops, devoicing of stops, and semirhoticity. Zero verbal marking is common, as is adverbial marking of past, negative concord, and pro-drop. High amounts of code-switching and borrowing from Tagalog, Palauan, and Japanese reflect its heterogenous linguistic contact history, and its portrayal as a postcolonial English similar to PhilE helps to situate it as illustrative of substrate-superstrate language contact of Malayo-Polynesian speech communities. The legacies of Japanese and American colonialism are still salient for Palau and PalE, but the variety seems to be undergoing exonormative stabilization given its diglossic situation and lack of direct English ideological imposition.

EVALUATION

Further Studies in the Lesser-Known Varieties of English (FSLKVE) is an extremely important survey and documentation of understudied global Englishes. The editors draw from a wide variety of scholarship to give representation to many of these isolated, rare, or otherwise endangered languages in a way that both humanizes the communities involved and legitimizes the status of ways of speaking routinely stigmatized as dialectal, accentual, or un-noteworthy. The volume achieves its goal of being an appropriate overview of many of these seemingly incongruous systems, being both accessible and consistent for a scholarly audience that seeks to understand how global Englishes develop in various postcolonial, post-imperial and national contexts. The book coheres well with its previous volume, The Lesser Known Varieties of English, and the constraints of the nature of the chapter formats themselves (i.e. (i) sociohistorical origins, (ii) sociodemographic data, (iii) structural features, and (iv) assessment of the variety’s future) work in favor of the text by allowing for examination of key similarities and contrasts of these language situations.

A major advantage of the wide range of Englishes depicted is the potential avenues of future research, both empirically and theoretically. These lesser-documented varieties often lack extensive linguistic analysis and fieldwork, and a contemporary rigorous examination of the language and speech community (particularly through an ethnographic lens) would provide a continuing illustration of the effects and vitality of regional world Englishes. From a theoretical standpoint, many of the authors provide compelling evidence of idiosyncratic linguistic feature emergence and maintenance in several varieties; this challenges preconceived notions and pre-existing frameworks that are taken as linguistic and ideological axiom, especially in the case of postcolonial Inner Circle Englishes. It is only because of the collating of these surveys that a clearer and more complex picture of linguistic innovation emerges in cases of prolonged language contact.

While the majority of the volume is pleasantly consistent in how the information is provided and theoretical frameworks are well-evidenced, it does become apparent that some chapters are also co-utilized as opportunities to posit perspectives that run against the grain of established frameworks, even those supported by surveys of other chapters. This is most jarring and obvious in Aceto’s “St. Eustatius English”, wherein the author rallies against the conceptualizations of decreolization and creole languages (“so-called creoles”) in general. While this counter-viewpoint to creolegenesis and language contact is fascinating and warrants further description and evidence, it disrupts the cohesion between this chapter and others concerning Caribbean Englishes, as well as entering into seemingly incongruous discourse concerning scientific tampering and Niels Bohr’s complementarity principle of light photons. Despite that relatively minor deviation, FSLKVE is an overwhelmingly satisfying and competent documentation of the passion of its authors, their passion for the language and communities they work with, and these “overlooked and understudied” varieties of English.

REFERENCES

Aceto, Michael. 2003. What are creole languages? An alternative approach to the anglophone Atlantic world with special emphasis on Barbudan Creole English. In M. Aceto and J. P. Williams, ed., Contact Englishes of the Eastern Caribbean. Amsterdam and Philadelphia: John Benjamins, 121-40.

Kortmann, Bernd and Kerstin Lunkenheimer, eds. 2012. The Mouton World Atlas of Variation in English. Berlin and New York: De Gruyter Mouton.

Mufwene, Salikoko S. 2000. Creolization is a social, not a structural, process. In Ingrid Neumann-Holzschuh and Edgar W. Schneider, eds., Degree of Restructuring in Creole Languages. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, 65-84.

--------. 2001. The Ecology of Language Evolution. Cambridge University Press.

--------. 2008. Language Evolution: Contact, Competition, and Change. London: Continuum.

Price, Neil. 1988. Behind the Planter’s Back: Lower-Class Responses to Marginality in Bequid island, St. Vincent. London: Macmillan.

Schneider, Edgar W. 2007. Postcolonial English: Varieties around the World. Cambridge University Press.

--------. 2007. Postcolonial Englishes. Cambridge University Press.

Schreier, Daniel, Peter Trudgill, Edgar W. Scneider and Jeffrey P. Williams, eds. 2010. The Lesser-Known Varieties of English: An Introduction. Cambridge University Press.

Turner, Lorenzo Dow. 1949. Africanisms in the Gullah Dialect. University of Chicago Press.

Williams, Jeffrey P. 2012. English varieties in the Caribbean. In Raymond Hickey, ed. Areal Features of the Anglophone World. Mouton: de Gruyter, 133-60.

Wolfram, Walt. 2008. When islands lose dialects. The case of Ocracoke Brogue. Shima: The International Journal of Research into Island Cultures 2(1)1: 1-13.
 
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
John ''Spud'' McCullough is an instructor and PhD candidate of Sociolinguistics in the Linguistics Program at the University of South Carolina. His research interests include raciolinguistics, language ideologies, and sociophonetics of marginalized language varieties, particularly English-lexified creole languages of the coastal United States. His dissertation focuses on the effects of coastal tourism on Gullah Geechee, a creole language spoken in the southeastern United States lowcountry.

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