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  1. African American Vernacular English
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  23. Inland Northern American English
  24. Intervocalic alveolar flapping
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  29. Names of numbers in English
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  31. New York dialect
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  34. North American English
  35. North American regional phonology
  36. North Central American English
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  47. Regional vocabularies of American English
  48. Rhotic and non-rhotic accents
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  50. The American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language
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AMERICAN ENGLISH
This article is from:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_Pennsylvania_English

All text is available under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Text_of_the_GNU_Free_Documentation_License 

Northeast Pennsylvania English

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 

Northeast Pennsylvania English is the local dialect of American English spoken in northeastern Pennsylvania, specifically in the Wyoming Valley area, which includes Wilkes-Barre and Scranton.

The Wyoming Valley falls right on the border between two major dialect groups of American English: the North and the Midland.[1][2] As such, it can be considered transitional between those two dialect groups, showing some features in common with one and other features in common with the other.

Phonological characteristics

Fieldwork conducted in the 1930s shows the region split evenly on the horse-hoarse merger: some speakers maintained the contrast (as did speakers in Upstate New York at the time), while others had lost the contrast (as in the Philadelphia accent).[3] Today, however, the merger is complete in the region (and indeed in most of North American English).[4]

The Mary-marry-merry merger is complete, although the accents of nearby New Jersey and southeastern Pennsylvania still maintain a two- or three-way distinction here.[5][6]

The cot-caught merger is in transition in Northeast Pennsylvania English.[7] The merger is found to the west, in Pittsburgh English and the Central Pennsylvania accent, but not to the north, east and south of the Wyoming Valley.

Northeast Pennsylvania English undergoes the Northern cities vowel shift, but not to the same extent as, say, Buffalo English. The vowel /æ/ shows considerable raising and diphthongization before nasal consonants, so that ban is pronounced approximately [beən], but before oral consonants, there is only moderate raising, and the vowel remains more open than /ɛ/, so that bad is pronounced approximately [bæ̝d]. Northeast Pennsylvania English has non-phonemic æ-tensing of the continuous variety, which means that /æ/ is raised more before /n/ than before /d/ and more before /d/ than before /g/.[8] The vowel /ɑ/ is considerably fronted, so a word like hot is pronounced [hät].[9] Finally, the vowels /ɛ/ as in bet and /ʌ/ as in but are retracted (articulated further back in the mouth) in comparison to the pronunciation in more conservative accents like General American.

The transitional nature of Northeast Pennsylvania English between the North and the Midland is shown clearly by the pronunciation of the diphthongs /aɪ/ (as in pine) and /aʊ/ (as in town). In the North, the nucleus of /aʊ/ is considerably further back than that of /aɪ/, so that town is pronounced [tɑʊn]. In the Midland (and indeed most of the rest of the United States), it is the nucleus of /aɪ/ that is further back, so that pine is [pɑɪn]. But in northeastern Pennsylvania, the nuclei of the two diphthongs are pronounced in nearly the same position, as an open central vowel, so that pine is [päɪn] and town is [täʊn].[10]

Because of the large influx of Polish and other Slavic immigrants in the early 1900s, many Northeast Pennsylvania speakers replace /θ, ð/ with /t, d/.[citation needed] For example, the word cathedral would be pronounced [kəˈtidrəl], three becomes /tri/, without becomes /wɪdˈaʊt/, etc.

Lexical characteristics

To the extent that northeastern Pennsylvanian speakers do pronounce pairs like Don and dawn differently, they pronounce the word on to rhyme with Don, not with dawn (i.e., they use the /ɑ/ vowel rather than /ɔ/). In this regard, the accent patterns with the northern accents, not with the rest of Pennsylvania.[11][12]

With respect to the phenomenon of "positive anymore", Northeast Pennsylvania English patterns with the Midland rather than the North: sentences like "Cars are sure expensive anymore" and "It's hard to find a job anymore" are grammatical here, but not in the North.[13] A similar result is found with sentences like "The car needs washed" or "The floor needs swept": these are grammatical in Northeast Pennsylvania as in the Midland, but not in the North.[14]

Older varieties of Wyoming Valley English, especially as spoken by immigrants who were not native speakers, had many other differences from standard American English:

  • The name of the letter H might be haitch, not aitch,[citation needed] as in some other dialects of English such as Hiberno-English and Indian English
  • When referring to a small group of objects, the phrase "A couple, two three" might have been used. Due to what was the common changing of "th" sounds to a "t" sound and the relative speed at which the phrase is said, the resulting phrase is "A couple two tree". Example: This project won't take very long; just a couple two tree days.[citation needed]
  • The plural of you is yous, pronounced /juz/ or reduced to /jəz/ (the latter spelled yez in eye dialect), as in "How are yous?" or "I'll see yez later."[citation needed]
  • The word up has been used as a preposition first thought to mean "up to" or just "to". For example, Wyoming Valley Natives often say "I'm going up the mall."[citation needed] In fact, it's a hold-over from "up-town", meaning the Public Square shopping district in central Wilkes Barre. This was logically carried over to " up the mall" because it was first situated on higher ground, east of the most populated area. Generally "up" meant areas north and/or east of the city's Public Square, "down", was south, and "over" referred to crossing the river separating the east side, (Wilkes Barre) from the west side’s many smaller communities.
  • The past tense of the verb beat is bet, as in "I bet up some guys last night, a couple two tree."[citation needed]
  • The word "disere," a contraction for "this here," was commonly used as a demonstrative pronoun, as in "If we go to the movies, we can see disere."[citation needed]

The word Hayna is one of the dialect's most distinctive words. Also encountered as heyna, hainna, heynit, henna, enna, or eyna it is a grammatical particle meaning "Isn't it so?", likely formed by combining the phrase "Ain't it?" Often when used, the word hayna was coupled with "or no", creating the phrase "Hayna or no?", which is a request for confirmation from the listener.[citation needed] The word Hayna was more likely to be heard in the 1950s and 1960s but has virtually disappeared and is commonly ridiculed by many present-day area residents. Despite the decrease in usage of Hayna, the Wyoming Valley along with most of Northeast Pennsylvania had a plethora of unique phrases, some of which are still used, and may seem strange to some visitors.

References

  1. ^ Kurath, Hans; Raven I. McDavid (1961). The Pronunciation of English in the Atlantic States. Ann Arbor, Michigan: University of Michigan Press. ISBN 0-8173-0129-1.  Map 2.
  2. ^ Labov, William; Sharon Ash; Charles Boberg (2006). The Atlas of North American English. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 142. ISBN 3-11-016746-8. 
  3. ^ Kurath and McDavid, ibid., map 44.
  4. ^ Labov et al., ibid., p. 52.
  5. ^ Kurath and McDavid, ibid., maps 50–51.
  6. ^ Labov et al., ibid., pp. 54, 56.
  7. ^ Labov et al., ibid., p. 122.
  8. ^ Labov et al., ibid., pp. 176, 193, 194, 200.
  9. ^ Labov et al., ibid., p. 196.
  10. ^ Labov et al., ibid., p. 188.
  11. ^ Kurath and McDavid, ibid., map 138.
  12. ^ Labov et al., ibid., pp. 187, 189.
  13. ^ Labov et al., ibid., p. 294.
  14. ^ Labov et al., ibid., p. 295.

External links

  • Lingo of Northeast PA
  • CoalSpeak: Dictionary of the Coal Region
  • Easton, Pennsylvania, USA
Retrieved from "http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Northeast_Pennsylvania_English"