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Southern American English or Southern U.S. English is a
regional dialect The term dialect (from Latin , , from the Ancient Greek word , 'discourse', from , 'through' and , 'I speak') can refer to either of two distinctly different types of linguistic phenomena: One usage refers to a variety of a language that is ...
or collection of dialects of
American English American English, sometimes called United States English or U.S. English, is the set of varieties of the English language native to the United States. English is the most widely spoken language in the United States and in most circumstances ...
spoken throughout the
Southern United States The Southern United States (sometimes Dixie, also referred to as the Southern States, the American South, the Southland, or simply the South) is a geographic and cultural List of regions of the United States#Official regions of the United Stat ...
, though concentrated increasingly in more
rural area In general, a rural area or a countryside is a geographic area that is located outside towns and cities. Typical rural areas have a low population density and small settlements. Agricultural areas and areas with forestry typically are describ ...
s, and spoken primarily by White Southerners. In terms of accent, its most innovative forms include southern varieties of
Appalachian English Appalachian English is American English native to the Appalachian mountain region of the Eastern United States. Historically, the term "Appalachian dialect" refers to a local English variety of southern Appalachia, also known as Smoky Mounta ...
and certain varieties of Texan English. Popularly known in the
United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., ...
as a Southern accent or simply Southern, Southern American English now comprises the largest American regional accent group by number of speakers. Formal, much more recent terms within American linguistics include Southern White Vernacular English and Rural White Southern English.


History and geography

A diversity of earlier Southern dialects once existed: a consequence of the mix of English speakers from the
British Isles The British Isles are a group of islands in the North Atlantic Ocean off the north-western coast of continental Europe, consisting of the islands of Great Britain, Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Inner and Outer Hebrides, the Northern Isles, ...
(including largely Southern English and Scots-Irish immigrants) who migrated to the American South in the 17th and 18th centuries, with particular 19th-century elements also borrowed from the London upper class and African-American slaves. By the 19th century, this included distinct dialects in eastern Virginia, the greater lowcountry area surrounding Charleston, the Appalachian upcountry region, the Black Belt plantation region, and secluded Atlantic coastal and island communities. Following the
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
, as the South's economy and migration patterns fundamentally transformed, so did Southern dialect trends. Over the next few decades, Southerners moved increasingly to Appalachian mill towns, to Texan farms, or out of the South entirely. The main result, further intensified by later upheavals such as the
Great Depression The Great Depression (19291939) was an economic shock that impacted most countries across the world. It was a period of economic depression that became evident after a major fall in stock prices in the United States. The economic contagion ...
, the
Dust Bowl The Dust Bowl was a period of severe dust storms that greatly damaged the ecology and agriculture of the American and Canadian prairies during the 1930s. The phenomenon was caused by a combination of both natural factors (severe drought) an ...
and perhaps
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a world war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved the World War II by country, vast majority of the world's countries—including all of the great power ...
, is that a newer and more unified form of Southern American English consolidated, beginning around the last quarter of the 19th century, radiating outward from Texas and Appalachia through all the traditional Southern States until around World War II. This newer Southern dialect largely superseded the older and more diverse local Southern dialects, though it became quickly stigmatized in American popular culture. As a result, since around 1950, the notable features of this newer Southern accent have been in a gradual decline, particularly among younger and more urban Southerners, though less so among rural white Southerners. Despite the slow decline of the modern Southern accent, it is still documented as widespread as of the 2006 '' Atlas of North American English''. Specifically, the ''Atlas'' definitively documents a Southern accent in
Virginia Virginia, officially the Commonwealth of Virginia, is a state in the Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States, between the Atlantic Coast and the Appalachian Mountains. The geography and climate of the Commonwealth are ...
,
North Carolina North Carolina () is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States. The state is the 28th largest and 9th-most populous of the United States. It is bordered by Virginia to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Georgia and ...
,
South Carolina )'' Animis opibusque parati'' ( for, , Latin, Prepared in mind and resources, links=no) , anthem = " Carolina";" South Carolina On My Mind" , Former = Province of South Carolina , seat = Columbia , LargestCity = Charleston , LargestMetro = ...
(though not Charleston),
Georgia Georgia most commonly refers to: * Georgia (country), a country in the Caucasus region of Eurasia * Georgia (U.S. state), a state in the Southeast United States Georgia may also refer to: Places Historical states and entities * Related to th ...
(though
Atlanta Atlanta ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, but its territory falls in both Fulton and DeKalb counties. With a population of 498,715 ...
is inconsistent),
Alabama (We dare defend our rights) , anthem = " Alabama" , image_map = Alabama in United States.svg , seat = Montgomery , LargestCity = Huntsville , LargestCounty = Baldwin County , LargestMetro = Greater Birmingham , area_total_km2 = 135,7 ...
,
Mississippi Mississippi () is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States, bordered to the north by Tennessee; to the east by Alabama; to the south by the Gulf of Mexico; to the southwest by Louisiana; and to the northwest by Arkansas. Missis ...
,
Tennessee Tennessee ( , ), officially the State of Tennessee, is a landlocked U.S. state, state in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Tennessee is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 36th-largest by ...
,
Kentucky Kentucky ( , ), officially the Commonwealth of Kentucky, is a state in the Southeastern region of the United States and one of the states of the Upper South. It borders Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio to the north; West Virginia and Vir ...
,
Arkansas Arkansas ( ) is a landlocked state in the South Central United States. It is bordered by Missouri to the north, Tennessee and Mississippi to the east, Louisiana to the south, and Texas and Oklahoma to the west. Its name is from the Osage ...
, and
Louisiana Louisiana , group=pronunciation (French: ''La Louisiane'') is a U.S. state, state in the Deep South and South Central United States, South Central regions of the United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 20th-smal ...
(co-occurring with
Cajun The Cajuns (; French: ''les Cadjins'' or ''les Cadiens'' ), also known as Louisiana ''Acadians'' (French: ''les Acadiens''), are a Louisiana French ethnicity mainly found in the U.S. state of Louisiana. While Cajuns are usually described as ...
and New Orleans accents), as well as almost all of
Texas Texas (, ; Spanish: ''Texas'', ''Tejas'') is a state in the South Central region of the United States. At 268,596 square miles (695,662 km2), and with more than 29.1 million residents in 2020, it is the second-largest U.S. state by ...
, southern
West Virginia West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian, Mid-Atlantic and Southeastern regions of the United States.The Census Bureau and the Association of American Geographers classify West Virginia as part of the Southern United States while the ...
, the Springfield area of
Missouri Missouri is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Ranking 21st in land area, it is bordered by eight states (tied for the most with Tennessee): Iowa to the north, Illinois, Kentucky and Tennessee to the east, Arkansas to ...
, the Jacksonville area of
Florida Florida is a U.S. state, state located in the Southeastern United States, Southeastern region of the United States. Florida is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the northwest by Alabama, to the north by Georgia (U.S. state), Geo ...
, and southeastern
New Mexico ) , population_demonym = New Mexican ( es, Neomexicano, Neomejicano, Nuevo Mexicano) , seat = Santa Fe , LargestCity = Albuquerque , LargestMetro = Tiguex , OfficialLang = None , Languages = English, Spanish ( New Mexican), Navajo, Ker ...
. A South Midland accent is documented by the ''Atlas'' as sharing key features with the Southern accent, though to a weaker extent; such features encompass the whole of Texas, Oklahoma, West Virginia, eastern and central
Kansas Kansas () is a state in the Midwestern United States. Its capital is Topeka, and its largest city is Wichita. Kansas is a landlocked state bordered by Nebraska to the north; Missouri to the east; Oklahoma to the south; and Colorado to the w ...
, southern Missouri, southern
Indiana Indiana () is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States. It is the 38th-largest by area and the 17th-most populous of the 50 States. Its capital and largest city is Indianapolis. Indiana was admitted to the United States as the 19th s ...
, southern
Ohio Ohio () is a state in the Midwestern region of the United States. Of the fifty U.S. states, it is the 34th-largest by area, and with a population of nearly 11.8 million, is the seventh-most populous and tenth-most densely populated. The sta ...
, and possibly southern
Illinois Illinois ( ) is a state in the Midwestern United States. Its largest metropolitan areas include the Chicago metropolitan area, and the Metro East section, of Greater St. Louis. Other smaller metropolitan areas include, Peoria and Rockfo ...
. African-American accents across the United States have many common points with Southern accents due to the strong historical ties of
African American African Americans (also referred to as Black Americans and Afro-Americans) are an ethnic group consisting of Americans with partial or total ancestry from sub-Saharan Africa. The term "African American" generally denotes descendants of enslav ...
s to the South.


Social perceptions

In the United States, there is a general negative stigma surrounding the Southern dialect. Non-Southern Americans tend to associate a Southern accent with lower social and economic class, cognitive and verbal slowness, lack of education, ignorance, bigotry, or religious or political conservatism, using common labels like " hick", "
hillbilly Hillbilly is a term (often derogatory) for people who dwell in rural, mountainous areas in the United States, primarily in southern Appalachia and the Ozarks. The term was later used to refer to people from other rural and mountainous areas we ...
", or "
redneck ''Redneck'' is a derogatory term chiefly, but not exclusively, applied to white Americans perceived to be crass and unsophisticated, closely associated with rural whites of the Southern United States.Harold Wentworth, and Stuart Berg Flexner, '' ...
" accent.Fought, John G. (2005).
American Varieties: R-ful Southern
. ''Do You Speak American?'' MacNeil/Lehrer Productions.
Meanwhile, Southerners themselves tend to have mixed judgments of their own accent, some similarly negative but others positively associating it with a laid-back, plain, or humble attitude. The accent is also associated nationwide with the
military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare. It is typically authorized and maintained by a sovereign state, with its members identifiable by their distin ...
,
NASCAR The National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, LLC (NASCAR) is an American auto racing sanctioning and operating company that is best known for stock car racing. The privately owned company was founded by Bill France Sr. in 1948, and h ...
, and
country music Country (also called country and western) is a genre of popular music that originated in the Southern and Southwestern United States in the early 1920s. It primarily derives from blues, church music such as Southern gospel and spirituals, ...
. Furthermore, non-Southern American country singers typically imitate a Southern accent in their music. The sum negative associations nationwide, however, are the main presumable cause of a gradual decline of Southern accent features, since the middle of the 20th century onwards, particularly among younger and more urban residents of the South.


Modern phonology

Most of the Southern United States underwent several major sound changes from the beginning to the middle of the 20th century, during which a more unified, region-wide sound system developed, markedly different from the sound systems of the 19th-century Southern dialects. The South as a present-day dialect region generally includes all of these pronunciation features below, which are popularly recognized in the United States as a "Southern accent". However, there is still variation in Southern speech regarding potential differences based on factors like a speaker's exact sub-region, age, ethnicity, etc. The following phonological phenomena focus on the developing sound system of the 20th-century Southern dialects of the United States that altogether largely (though certainly not entirely) superseded the older Southern regional patterns: *Southern Vowel Shift (or Southern Shift): A chain shift regarding vowels is fully completed, or occurring, in most Southern dialects, especially 20th-century ones, and at the most advanced stage in the "Inland South" (i.e. away from the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts) as well as much of central and northern Texas. This 3-stage chain movement of vowels is first triggered by Stage 1 that dominates the entire Southern region, followed by Stage 2 that covers almost all of that area, and Stage 3 that is concentrated only in speakers of the two aforementioned core sub-regions. Stage 1 (defined below) may have begun in a minority of Southern accents as early as the first half of the 19th century with a glide weakening of to or ; however, it was still largely incomplete or absent in the mid-19th century, before expanding rapidly from the last quarter of the 19th into the middle of the 20th century; today, this glide weakening or even total glide deletion is the pronunciation norm throughout all of the Southern States. **Stage 1 ( → ): ***The starting point, or first stage, of the Southern Shift is the transition of the
diphthong A diphthong ( ; , ), also known as a gliding vowel, is a combination of two adjacent vowel sounds within the same syllable. Technically, a diphthong is a vowel with two different targets: that is, the tongue (and/or other parts of the speech ...
() towards a "glideless" long vowel (), so that, for example, the word ''ride'' commonly approaches a sound that most other American English speakers would hear as ''rod'' or ''rad''. Stage 1 is now complete for a majority of Southern dialects. Southern speakers particularly exhibit the Stage 1 shift at the ends of words and before voiced consonants, but often not before voiceless consonants, where the diphthong instead retains its glide, so that ''ride'' is , but ''right'' is . Inland (i.e. non-coastal) Southern speakers, however, indeed delete the glide of in all contexts, as in the stereotyped pronunciation "nahs whaht rahss" for ''nice white rice''; these most shift-advanced speakers are largely found today in an Appalachian area that comprises eastern Tennessee, western North Carolina and northern Alabama, as well as in central Texas. Some traditional East Coast Southern accents do not exhibit this Stage 1 glide deletion, particularly in
Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston metropolitan area, South Carolina, Charleston–North Charle ...
, as well as Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia (cities that are, at best, considered marginal to the modern Southern dialect region). ***Somewhere in "the early stages of the Southern Shift", (as in ''rat'' or ''bad'') moves generally higher and fronter in the mouth (and often also giving it a complex gliding quality, often starting higher and then gliding lower); thus can range variously away from its original position, with variants such as , , , and possibly even for those born between the World Wars. An example is that, to other English speakers, the Southern pronunciation of ''yap'' sounds something like ''yeah-up''. See "Southern vowel breaking" below for more information. **Stage 2 ( → and → ): ***By removing the existence of , Stage 1 leaves open a lower space for (as in ''name'' and ''day'') to occupy, causing Stage 2: the dragging of the diphthong into a lower starting position, towards or to a sound even lower or more retracted, or both. ***At the same time, the pushing of into the vicinity of (as in ''red'' or ''belt''), forces itself into a higher and fronter position, occupying the area (previously the vicinity of ). also often acquires an in-glide: thus, . An example is that, to other English speakers, the Southern pronunciation of ''yep'' sounds something like ''yay-up''. Stage 2 is most common in heavily stressed syllables. Southern accents originating from cities that formerly had the greatest influence and wealth in the South (Richmond, Virginia; Charleston, South Carolina; Atlanta, Macon, and Savannah, Georgia; and all of Florida) do not traditionally participate in Stage 2. **Stage 3 ( → and → ): By the same pushing and pulling
domino effect A domino effect or chain reaction is the cumulative effect generated when a particular event triggers a chain of similar events. This term is best known as a mechanical effect and is used as an analogy to a falling row of dominoes. It typically ...
s described above, (as in ''hit'' or ''lick'') and (as in ''beam'' or ''meet'') follow suit by both possibly becoming diphthongs whose nuclei switch positions. may be pushed into a diphthong with a raised beginning, , while may be pulled into a diphthong with a lowered beginning, . An example is that, to other English speakers, the Southern pronunciation of ''fin'' sounds something like ''fee-in'', while ''meat'' sounds something like ''mih-eet''. Like the other stages of the Southern shift, Stage 3 is most common in heavily stressed syllables and particularly among Inland Southern speakers. **Southern vowel breaking ("Southern drawl"): All three stages of the Southern Shift appear related to the short front pure vowels being "broken" into gliding vowels, making one-syllable words like ''pet'' and ''pit'' sound as if they might have two syllables (as something like ''pay-it'' and ''pee-it''). This short front vowel gliding phenomenon is popularly recognized as the "Southern drawl". The "short ''a''", "short ''e''", and "short ''i''" vowels are all affected, developing a glide up from their original starting position to , and then often back down to a schwa vowel: ; ; and , respectively. Appearing mostly after the mid-19th century, this phenomenon is on the decline, being most typical of Southern speakers born before 1960. *Unstressed, word-final → : The
phoneme In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme () is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west ...
in an unstressed syllable at the end of a word fronts to , so that ''singing'' is sometimes written phonetically as ''singin'' . This is common in vernacular English dialects around the world. *Lacking or transitioning cot–caught merger: The historical distinction between the two vowels sounds and , in words like ''caught'' and ''cot'' or ''stalk'' and ''stock'' is mainly preserved. In much of the South during the 1900s, there was a trend to lower the vowel found in words like ''stalk'' and ''caught'', often with an upglide, so that the most common result today is the gliding vowel . However, the
cot–caught merger The ''cot''–''caught'' merger or merger, formally known in linguistics as the low back merger, is a sound change present in some dialects of English where speakers do not distinguish the vowel phonemes in "cot" and "caught". "Cot" and "caug ...
is becoming increasingly common throughout the United States, thus affecting Southeastern and even some Southern dialects, towards a merged vowel . In the South, this merger, or a transition towards this merger, is especially documented in central, northern, and (particularly) western Texas. * Pin-pen merger: the vowels and now merge when before nasal consonants, so that ''pen'' and ''pin'', for instance, or ''hem'' and ''him'', are pronounced the same, as ''pin'' or ''him'', respectively. The merger, towards the sound , is still unreported among some vestigial varieties of the older South, and other geographically Southern U.S. varieties that have eluded the Southern Vowel Shift, such as the Yat dialect of
New Orleans New Orleans ( , ,New Orleans
or the anomalous dialect of
Savannah, Georgia Savannah ( ) is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later ...
. * Rhoticity: The "dropping" of the ''r'' sound after vowels was historically widespread in the South, particularly in former plantation areas. This phenomenon, non-rhoticity, was considered prestigious before World War II, after which the social perception in the South reversed. Now, full or variable rhoticity (sometimes called ''r''-fulness), in which most or all ''r'' sounds are pronounced, is dominant throughout most of the South, and even "hyper-rhoticity", particularly among younger and female white Southerners; the only major exceptions are among African American Southerners, whose modern vernacular dialect continues to be mostly non-rhotic, some accents of south
Louisiana Louisiana , group=pronunciation (French: ''La Louisiane'') is a U.S. state, state in the Deep South and South Central United States, South Central regions of the United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 20th-smal ...
and Cajun accents tend to be non-rhotic. The sound quality of the Southern ''r'' is the distinctive "bunch-tongued ''r''", produced by strongly constricting the root or midsection of the tongue, or both. * Pronunciation of ⟨wh⟩: Most of the U.S. has completed the wine–whine merger, but, in many Southern accents, particularly inland Southern accents, the phonemes and remain distinct, so that pairs of words like ''wail'' and ''whale'' or ''wield'' and ''wheeled'' are not
homophone A homophone () is a word that is pronounced the same (to varying extent) as another word but differs in meaning. A ''homophone'' may also differ in spelling. The two words may be spelled the same, for example ''rose'' (flower) and ''rose'' (pa ...
s. * Lax and tense vowels often neutralize before , making pairs like ''feel''/''fill'' and ''fail''/''fell''
homophone A homophone () is a word that is pronounced the same (to varying extent) as another word but differs in meaning. A ''homophone'' may also differ in spelling. The two words may be spelled the same, for example ''rose'' (flower) and ''rose'' (pa ...
s for speakers in some areas of the South. Some speakers may distinguish between the two sets of words by reversing the normal vowel sound, e.g., ''feel'' in Southern may sound like ''fill'', and vice versa. * The back vowel (in ''goose'' or ''true'') is fronted in the mouth to the vicinity of or even farther forward, which is then followed by a slight gliding quality; different gliding qualities have been reported, including both backward and (especially in the eastern half of the South) forward glides. * The back vowel (in ''goat'' or ''toe'') is fronted to the vicinity of , and perhaps even as far forward as . * Back Upglide (Chain) Shift: In Southern regional dialects, shifts forward and upward to (also possibly realized, variously, as ); thus allowing the back vowel to fill an area similar to the former position of /aʊ/ in the mouth, becoming lowered and developing an upglide ɒ this, in turn, allows (though only for the most advanced Southern speakers) the upgliding , before , to lose its glide (for instance, causing the word ''boils'' to sound something like the British or New York City pronunciations of ). * The vowel , as in ''bug, luck, strut,'' etc., is realized as , occasionally fronted to or raised in the mouth to . * becomes before , for example ''wasn't'', ''business'', but ''hasn't'' may keep the to avoid merging with ''hadn't''. * Many nouns are stressed on the first syllable that are stressed on the second syllable in most other American accents. These may include ''police'', ''cement'', ''Detroit'', ''Thanksgiving'', ''insurance'', ''behind'', ''display'', ''hotel'', ''motel'', ''recycle'', ''TV'', ''guitar'', ''July'', and ''umbrella''. Today, younger Southerners tend to keep this initial stress for a more reduced set of words, perhaps including only ''insurance'', ''defense'', ''Thanksgiving'', and ''umbrella''. *
Phonemic In phonology and linguistics, a phoneme () is a unit of sound that can distinguish one word from another in a particular language. For example, in most dialects of English, with the notable exception of the West Midlands and the north-west ...
incidence is sometimes unique in the South, so that: **''Florida'' is typically pronounced rather than
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans. In the United States it is often perceived as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or soc ...
, and ''lawyer'' is rather than General American (i.e., the first syllable of ''lawyer'' sounds like ''law'', not ''loy''). **The in words like ''Monday'' and ''Sunday'' is commonly . **''Spigot'' (a water tap) is often pronounced , as if spelled ''spicket''. * Lacking or incomplete ''happy'' tensing: The tensing of unstressed, word-final (the second vowel sound in words like ''happy, money, Chelsea,'' etc.) to a higher and fronter vowel like is typical throughout the United States, except in the South. The South maintains a sound not obviously tensed: or . * Words ending in unstressed (especially with the spelling ) may be pronounced as or , making ''yellow'' sound like ''yella'' or ''tomorrow'' like ''tomorra''. *Variable horse–hoarse merger: the merger of the phonemes (as in ''morning'') and (as in ''mourning'') is common, as in most English dialects, though a distinction is still preserved especially in Southern accents along the Gulf Coast, plus scatterings elsewhere; thus, ''morning'' versus ''mourning'' .


Inland South and Texas

William Labov et al. identify the "Inland South" as a large linguistic sub-region of the South located mostly in southern
Appalachia Appalachia () is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York State to northern Alabama and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Newfoundland and Labrador, ...
(specifically naming the cities of Greenville, South Carolina, Asheville, North Carolina, Knoxville and Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Birmingham and Linden, Alabama), inland from both the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts, and the originating region of the Southern Vowel Shift. The Inland South, along with the "Texas South" (an urban core of central Texas:
Dallas Dallas () is the List of municipalities in Texas, third largest city in Texas and the largest city in the Dallas–Fort Worth metroplex, the List of metropolitan statistical areas, fourth-largest metropolitan area in the United States at 7.5 ...
, Lubbock,
Odessa Odesa (also spelled Odessa) is the third most populous city and municipality in Ukraine and a major seaport and transport hub located in the south-west of the country, on the northwestern shore of the Black Sea. The city is also the administrative ...
, and
San Antonio ("Cradle of Freedom") , image_map = , mapsize = 220px , map_caption = Interactive map of San Antonio , subdivision_type = Country , subdivision_name = United States , subdivision_type1= State , subdivision_name1 = Texas , subdivision_t ...
) are considered the two major locations in which the Southern regional sound system is the most highly developed, and therefore the core areas of the current-day South as a dialect region. The accents of Texas are actually diverse, for example with important Spanish influences on its vocabulary; however, much of the state is still an unambiguous region of modern rhotic Southern speech, strongest in the cities of Dallas, Lubbock, Odessa, and San Antonio, which all firmly demonstrate the first stage of the Southern Shift, if not also further stages of the shift. Texan cities that are noticeably "non-Southern" dialectally are Abilene and Austin; only marginally Southern are Houston, El Paso, and Corpus Christi. In western and northern Texas, the
cot–caught merger The ''cot''–''caught'' merger or merger, formally known in linguistics as the low back merger, is a sound change present in some dialects of English where speakers do not distinguish the vowel phonemes in "cot" and "caught". "Cot" and "caug ...
is very close to completed.


Distinct phonologies

Some sub-regions of the South, and perhaps even a majority of the biggest cities, are showing a gradual shift away from the Southern accent (toward a more Midland or
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans. In the United States it is often perceived as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or soc ...
accent) since the second half of the 20th century to the present. Such well-studied cities include
Houston, Texas Houston (; ) is the most populous city in Texas, the most populous city in the Southern United States, the fourth-most populous city in the United States, and the sixth-most populous city in North America, with a population of 2,304,580 i ...
, and
Raleigh, North Carolina Raleigh (; ) is the capital city of the state of North Carolina and the seat of Wake County in the United States. It is the second-most populous city in North Carolina, after Charlotte. Raleigh is the tenth-most populous city in the South ...
; in Raleigh, for example, this retreat from the accent appears to have begun around 1950.Dodsworth, Robin (2013) "Retreat from the Southern Vowel Shift in Raleigh, NC: Social Factors," University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics: Vol. 19 : Iss. 2, Article 5. Available at: https://repository.upenn.edu/pwpl/vol19/iss2/5 Other sub-regions are unique in that their inhabitants have never spoken with the Southern regional accent, instead having their own distinct accents.


Atlanta, Charleston, and Savannah

The ''Atlas of North American English'' identified
Atlanta, Georgia Atlanta ( ) is the capital and most populous city of the U.S. state of Georgia. It is the seat of Fulton County, the most populous county in Georgia, but its territory falls in both Fulton and DeKalb counties. With a population of 498, ...
, as a dialectal "island of non-Southern speech",
Charleston, South Carolina Charleston is the largest city in the U.S. state of South Carolina, the county seat of Charleston County, South Carolina, Charleston County, and the principal city in the Charleston metropolitan area, South Carolina, Charleston–North Charle ...
, likewise as "not markedly Southern in character", and the traditional local accent of
Savannah, Georgia Savannah ( ) is the oldest city in the U.S. state of Georgia and is the county seat of Chatham County. Established in 1733 on the Savannah River, the city of Savannah became the British colonial capital of the Province of Georgia and later ...
, as "giving way to regional idlandpatterns", despite these being three prominent Southern cities. The dialect features of Atlanta are best described today as sporadic from speaker to speaker, with such variation increased due to a huge movement of non-Southerners into the area during the 1990s. Modern-day Charleston speakers have leveled in the direction of a more generalized Midland accent (and speakers in other Southern cities too like Greenville, Richmond, and Norfolk), away from the city's now-defunct, traditional Charleston accent, whose features were "diametrically opposed to the Southern Shift... and differ in many other respects from the main body of Southern dialects". The Savannah accent is also becoming more Midland-like. The following vowel sounds of Atlanta, Charleston, and Savannah have been unaffected by typical Southern phenomena like the Southern drawl and Southern Vowel Shift: * as in ''bad'' (the "default"
General American General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans. In the United States it is often perceived as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or soc ...
nasal short-''a'' system is in use, in which is tensed only before or ). * as in ''bide'' (however, some Atlanta and Savannah speakers do variably show Southern glide weakening). * as in ''bait''. * as in ''bed''. * as in ''bid''. * as in ''bead''. * as in ''bought'' (which is lowered, as in most of the U.S., and approaches ; the
cot–caught merger The ''cot''–''caught'' merger or merger, formally known in linguistics as the low back merger, is a sound change present in some dialects of English where speakers do not distinguish the vowel phonemes in "cot" and "caught". "Cot" and "caug ...
is mostly at a transitional stage in these cities). Today, the accents of Atlanta, Charleston, and Savannah are most similar to Midland regional accents or at least Southeastern super-regional accents. In all three cities, some speakers (though most consistently documented in Charleston and least consistently in Savannah) demonstrate the Southeastern fronting of and the status of the pin–pen merger is highly variable. Non-rhoticity (''r''-dropping) is now rare in these cities, yet still documented in some speakers.


Southern Louisiana

Most of southern Louisiana constitutes
Acadiana Acadiana (French and Louisiana French: ''L'Acadiane''), also known as the Cajun Country (Louisiana French: ''Le Pays Cadjin'', es, País Cajún), is the official name given to the French Louisiana region that has historically contained mu ...
, a cultural region dominated for hundreds of years by monolingual speakers of
Cajun French Louisiana French ( frc, français de la Louisiane; lou, françé la lwizyàn) is an umbrella term for the dialects and varieties of the French language spoken traditionally by French Louisianians in colonial Lower Louisiana. As of today Louis ...
, which combines elements of
Acadian French Acadian French (french: français acadien, acadjonne) is a variety of French spoken by Acadians, mostly in the region of Acadia, Canada. Acadian French has 7 regional accents, including chiac and brayon. Phonology Since there was relatively lit ...
with other French and Spanish words. Today, this French dialect is spoken by many older
Cajun The Cajuns (; French: ''les Cadjins'' or ''les Cadiens'' ), also known as Louisiana ''Acadians'' (French: ''les Acadiens''), are a Louisiana French ethnicity mainly found in the U.S. state of Louisiana. While Cajuns are usually described as ...
ethnic group and is said to be dying out. A related language, Louisiana Creole French, also exists. Since the early 1900s, Cajuns additionally began to develop their own vernacular dialect of English, which retains some influences and words from French, such as "cher" (dear) or "nonc" (uncle). This dialect fell out of fashion after World War II, but experienced a renewal in primarily male speakers born since the 1970s, who have been the most attracted by, and the biggest attractors for, a successful Cajun cultural renaissance. The accent includes: * variable non-rhoticity (or ''r''-dropping), high nasalization (including in vowels before
nasal consonant In phonetics, a nasal, also called a nasal occlusive or nasal stop in contrast with an oral stop or nasalized consonant, is an occlusive consonant produced with a lowered velum, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. The vast majo ...
s) * deletion of any word's final consonant(s) (''hand'' becomes , ''food'' becomes , ''rent'' becomes , ''New York'' becomes , etc.) * a potential for glide weakening in all gliding vowels; for example, (as in ''Joe''), (as in ''jay''), and (as in ''joy'') have glides (, , and , respectively) * the
cot–caught merger The ''cot''–''caught'' merger or merger, formally known in linguistics as the low back merger, is a sound change present in some dialects of English where speakers do not distinguish the vowel phonemes in "cot" and "caught". "Cot" and "caug ...
towards A separate historical English dialect from the above Cajun one, spoken only by those raised in the Greater New Orleans area, is traditionally non-rhotic and noticeably shares more pronunciation commonalities with a New York accent than with other Southern accents, due to commercial ties and cultural migration between the two cities. Since at least the 1980s, this local New Orleans dialect has popularly been called "
Yat Yat or jat (Ѣ ѣ; italics: ) is the thirty-second letter of the old Cyrillic alphabet and the Rusyn alphabet. There is also another version of yat, the iotified yat (majuscule: , minuscule: ), which is a Cyrillic character combining ...
", from the common local greeting "Where you at?". The New York accent features shared with the Yat accent include: non-rhoticity, a short-''a'' split system (so that ''bad'' and ''back'', for example, have different vowels), as high gliding , as rounded , and the coil–curl merger (traditionally, though now in decline). Yat also lacks the typical vowel changes of the Southern Shift and the pin–pen merger that are commonly heard elsewhere throughout the South. Yat is associated with the working and lower-middle classes, though a spectrum with fewer notable Yat features is often heard the higher one's socioeconomic status; such New Orleans affluence is associated with the New Orleans Uptown and the Garden District, whose speech patterns are sometimes considered distinct from the lower-class Yat dialect.


Older phonologies

Prior to becoming a phonologically unified dialect region, the South was once home to an array of much more diverse accents at the local level. Features of the deeper interior Appalachian South largely became the basis for the newer Southern regional dialect; thus, older Southern American English primarily refers to the English spoken outside of Appalachia: the coastal and former plantation areas of the South, best documented before the
Civil War A civil war or intrastate war is a war between organized groups within the same state (or country). The aim of one side may be to take control of the country or a region, to achieve independence for a region, or to change government policie ...
, on the decline during the early 1900s, and basically non-existent in speakers born since the
civil rights movement The civil rights movement was a nonviolent social and political movement and campaign from 1954 to 1968 in the United States to abolish legalized institutional Racial segregation in the United States, racial segregation, Racial discrimination ...
. Little unified these older Southern dialects, since they never formed a single homogeneous dialect region to begin with. Some older Southern accents were rhotic (most strongly in
Appalachia Appalachia () is a cultural region in the Eastern United States that stretches from the Southern Tier of New York State to northern Alabama and Georgia. While the Appalachian Mountains stretch from Belle Isle in Newfoundland and Labrador, ...
and west of
the Mississippi The Mississippi River is the second-longest river and chief river of the second-largest drainage system in North America, second only to the Hudson Bay drainage system. From its traditional source of Lake Itasca in northern Minnesota, it f ...
), while the majority were non-rhotic (most strongly in plantation areas); however, wide variation existed. Some older Southern accents showed (or approximated) Stage 1 of the Southern Vowel Shift—namely, the glide weakening of —however, it is virtually unreported before the very late 1800s. In general, the older Southern dialects clearly lacked the Mary–marry–merry, cot–caught, horse–hoarse, wine–whine, full–fool, fill–feel, and do–dew mergers, all of which are now common to, or encroaching on, all varieties of present-day Southern American English. Older Southern sound systems included those local to the: *Plantation South (excluding the Lowcountry): phonologically characterized by glide weakening, non-rhoticity (for some accents, including a coil–curl merger), and the Southern trap–bath split (a version of the trap–bath split unique to older Southern U.S. speech that causes words like ''lass'' not to rhyme with words like ''pass'' ). **Eastern and central Virginia (often identified as the "Tidewater accent"): further characterized by Canadian raising and some vestigial resistance to the vein–vain merger. *
Lowcountry The Lowcountry (sometimes Low Country or just low country) is a geographic and cultural region along South Carolina's coast, including the Sea Islands. The region includes significant salt marshes and other coastal waterways, making it an import ...
(of South Carolina and Georgia; often identified as the traditional "Charleston accent"): characterized by no glide weakening, non-rhoticity (including the coil-curl merger), the Southern trap–bath split, Canadian raising, the cheer–chair merger, pronounced as , and pronounced as . *
Outer Banks The Outer Banks (frequently abbreviated OBX) are a string of barrier islands and spits off the coast of North Carolina and southeastern Virginia, on the east coast of the United States. They line most of the North Carolina coastline, separating ...
and
Chesapeake Bay The Chesapeake Bay ( ) is the largest estuary in the United States. The Bay is located in the Mid-Atlantic region and is primarily separated from the Atlantic Ocean by the Delmarva Peninsula (including the parts: the Eastern Shore of Maryland / ...
(often identified as the " Hoi Toider accent"): characterized by no glide weakening (with the on-glide strongly backed, unlike any other U.S. dialect), the card–cord merger, pronounced as , and up-gliding of pure vowels especially before (making ''fish'' sound almost like ''feesh'' and ''ash'' like ''aysh''). It is the only dialect of the older South still extant on the East Coast, due to being passed on through generations of geographically isolated islanders. *Appalachian and Ozark Mountains: characterized by strong rhoticity and a tor–tore–tour merger (which still exist in that region), the Southern trap–bath split, plus the original and most advanced instances of the Southern Vowel Shift now defining the whole South.


Grammar

These grammatical features are characteristic of both older and newer Southern American English. * Use of ''done'' as an
auxiliary verb An auxiliary verb (abbreviated ) is a verb that adds functional or grammatical meaning to the clause in which it occurs, so as to express tense, aspect, modality, voice, emphasis, etc. Auxiliary verbs usually accompany an infinitive verb or a p ...
between the subject and verb in sentences conveying the
past tense The past tense is a grammatical tense whose function is to place an action or situation in the past. Examples of verbs in the past tense include the English verbs ''sang'', ''went'' and ''washed''. Most languages have a past tense, with some ha ...
. *:I done told you before. * Use of ''done'' (instead of ''did'') as the past simple form of ''do'', and similar uses of the
past participle In linguistics, a participle () (from Latin ' a "sharing, partaking") is a nonfinite verb form that has some of the characteristics and functions of both verbs and adjectives. More narrowly, ''participle'' has been defined as "a word derived from ...
in place of the past simple, such as ''seen'' replacing ''saw'' as past simple form of ''see.'' *:I only done what you done told me. *:I seen her first. * Use of other non-standard
preterite The preterite or preterit (; abbreviated or ) is a grammatical tense or verb form serving to denote events that took place or were completed in the past; in some languages, such as Spanish, French, and English, it is equivalent to the simple pas ...
s, Such as ''drownded'' as the past tense of ''drown'', ''knowed'' as past tense of ''know'', ''choosed'' as the past tense of ''choose'', ''degradated'' as the past tense of ''degrade''. *:I knowed you for a fool soon as I seen you. * Use of ''was'' in place of ''were,'' or other words regularizing the past tense of ''be'' to ''was''. *:You was sittin' on that chair. * Use of ''been'' instead of ''have been'' in perfect constructions. *:I been livin' here darn near my whole life. * Use of ''(a-)fixin' to'', with several spelling variants such as ''fixing to'' or ''fixinta'', to indicate immediate future action; in other words: ''intending to'', ''preparing to'', or ''about to''. *:He's fixin' to eat. *:They're fixing to go for a hike. :It is not clear where the term comes from and when it was first used. According to dialect dictionaries, ''fixin' to'' is associated with Southern speech, most often defined as being a
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word, morpheme, or phrase in a given language. For example, in the English language, the words ''begin'', ''start'', ''commence'', and ''initiate'' are a ...
of ''preparing to'' or ''intending to''. Some linguists, e.g. Marvin K. Ching, regard it as being a ''quasimodal'' rather than a
verb A verb () is a word (part of speech) that in syntax generally conveys an action (''bring'', ''read'', ''walk'', ''run'', ''learn''), an occurrence (''happen'', ''become''), or a state of being (''be'', ''exist'', ''stand''). In the usual descr ...
followed by an
infinitive Infinitive (abbreviated ) is a linguistics term for certain verb forms existing in many languages, most often used as non-finite verbs. As with many linguistic concepts, there is not a single definition applicable to all languages. The word is der ...
.Ching, Marvin K. L. "How Fixed Is Fixin' to?" ''American Speech'', 62.4 (1987): 332-345. It is a term used by all
social groups In the social sciences, a social group can be defined as two or more people who interact with one another, share similar characteristics, and collectively have a sense of unity. Regardless, social groups come in a myriad of sizes and varieties ...
, although more frequently by people with a lower
social status Social status is the level of social value a person is considered to possess. More specifically, it refers to the relative level of respect, honour, assumed competence, and deference accorded to people, groups, and organizations in a society. Sta ...
than by members of the educated upper classes. Furthermore, it is more common in the speech of younger people than in that of older people. Like much of the Southern dialect, the term is also more prevalent in rural areas than in urban areas. * Preservation of older English ''me,'' ''him,'' etc. as reflexive datives. *:I'm fixin' to paint me a picture. *:He's gonna catch him a big one. * Saying ''this here'' in place of ''this'' or ''this one'', and ''that there'' in place of ''that'' or ''that one''. *:This here's mine and that there is yours. * Existential ''it,'' a feature dating from Middle English which can be explained as substituting ''it'' for ''there'' when ''there'' refers to no physical location, but only to the existence of something. *:It's one lady who lives in town. *:It is nothing more to say. Standard English would prefer "existential ''there''", as in "There's one lady who lives in town". This construction is used to say that something exists (rather than saying where it is located)."Existential it."
''Online Dictionary of Language Terminology''. 4 Oct 2012
The construction can be found in
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English p ...
as in Marlowe's ''
Edward II Edward II (25 April 1284 – 21 September 1327), also called Edward of Caernarfon, was King of England and Lord of Ireland from 1307 until he was deposed in January 1327. The fourth son of Edward I, Edward became the heir apparent to t ...
'': "Cousin, it is no dealing with him now". * Use of ''ever'' in place of ''every''. *:Ever'where's the same these days. *Using ''liketa'' (sometimes spelled as ''liked to'' or ''like to'') to mean "almost" *:I liketa diedBailey, Guy, and Jan Tillery. "The Persistence of Southern American English." ''Journal of English Linguistics'', 24.4 (1996): 308-321. *:He liketa got hit by a car :Liketa is presumably a conjunction of "like to" or "like to have" coming from
Appalachian English Appalachian English is American English native to the Appalachian mountain region of the Eastern United States. Historically, the term "Appalachian dialect" refers to a local English variety of southern Appalachia, also known as Smoky Mounta ...
. It is most often seen as a synonym of almost. Accordingly, the phrase ''I like't'a died'' would be ''I almost died'' in Standard English. With this meaning, ''liketa'' can be seen as a verb modifier for actions that are on the verge of happening. Furthermore, it is more often used in an exaggerative or violent figurative sense rather than literal sense. *Use of the distal
demonstrative Demonstratives (abbreviated ) are words, such as ''this'' and ''that'', used to indicate which entities are being referred to and to distinguish those entities from others. They are typically deictic; their meaning depending on a particular frame ...
"yonder," archaic in most dialects of English, to indicate a third, larger degree of distance beyond both "here" and "there" (thus relegating "there" to a medial demonstrative as in some other languages), indicating that something is a longer way away, and to a lesser extent, in a wide or loosely defined expanse, as in the church hymn "When the Roll Is Called Up Yonder". A typical example is the use "over yonder" in place of "over there" or "in or at that indicated place", especially to refer to a particularly different spot, such as in "the house over yonder". * Compared to
General American English General American English or General American (abbreviated GA or GenAm) is the umbrella accent of American English spoken by a majority of Americans. In the United States it is often perceived as lacking any distinctly regional, ethnic, or soc ...
, when contracting a negated auxiliary verb, Southern American English has increased preference for contracting the subject and the auxiliary than the auxiliary and "not", e.g. the first of the following pairs: *:''He's'' not here. / He ''isn't'' here. *:''I've'' not been there. / I ''haven't'' been there.


Multiple modals

Standard English In an English-speaking country, Standard English (SE) is the variety of English that has undergone substantial regularisation and is associated with formal schooling, language assessment, and official print publications, such as public service ...
has a strict
word order In linguistics, word order (also known as linear order) is the order of the syntactic constituents of a language. Word order typology studies it from a cross-linguistic perspective, and examines how different languages employ different orders. ...
. In the case of modal auxiliaries, standard English is restricted to a single modal per
verb phrase In linguistics, a verb phrase (VP) is a syntactic unit composed of a verb and its arguments except the subject of an independent clause or coordinate clause. Thus, in the sentence ''A fat man quickly put the money into the box'', the words ''q ...
. However, some Southern speakers use
double A double is a look-alike or doppelgänger; one person or being that resembles another. Double, The Double or Dubble may also refer to: Film and television * Double (filmmaking), someone who substitutes for the credited actor of a character * ' ...
or more modals in a row (''might could, might should, might would, used to could,'' etc.--also called "modal stacking") and sometimes even triple modals that involve ''oughta'' (like ''might should oughta'') *I might could climb to the top. *I used to could do that. The origin of multiple modals is controversial; some say it is a development of Modern English, while others trace them back to
Middle English Middle English (abbreviated to ME) is a form of the English language that was spoken after the Norman conquest of 1066, until the late 15th century. The English language underwent distinct variations and developments following the Old English p ...
and again others to Scots-Irish settlers. There are different opinions on which class preferably uses the term. for example, finds that educated people try to avoid multiple modals, whereas suggests the opposite. In some Southern regions, multiple modals are quite widespread and not particularly stigmatized. Possible multiple modals are:Di Paolo, Marianna. "Double Modals as Single Lexical Items." American Speech, 64.3 (1989): 195-224. As the table shows, there are only possible combinations of an
epistemic Epistemology (; ), or the theory of knowledge, is the branch of philosophy concerned with knowledge. Epistemology is considered a major subfield of philosophy, along with other major subfields such as ethics, logic, and metaphysics. Episte ...
modal followed by deontic modals in multiple modal constructions. Deontic modals express permissibility with a range from obligated to forbidden and are mostly used as markers of politeness in requests whereas epistemic modals refer to probabilities from certain to impossible. Multiple modals combine these two modalities.


Conditional syntax and evidentiality

People from the South often make use of conditional or evidential
syntax In linguistics, syntax () is the study of how words and morphemes combine to form larger units such as phrases and sentences. Central concerns of syntax include word order, grammatical relations, hierarchical sentence structure (constituency), ...
es as shown below (italicized in the examples): Conditional syntax in requests: :''I guess you could'' step out and git some toothpicks and a carton of Camel cigarettes, ''if you a mind to''. :''If you be good enough to take it, I believe'' I could stand me a taste. Conditional syntax in suggestions: :I wouldn't look for 'em to show up ''if I was you''. :''I'd think'' that whiskey ''would be'' a trifle hot. Conditional syntax creates a distance between the speaker's claim and the hearer. It serves to soften obligations or suggestions, make criticisms less personal, and to overall express politeness, respect, or courtesy. Southerners also often use " evidential" predicates such as think, reckon, believe, guess, have the feeling, etc.: :You already said that once, ''I believe''. :''I wouldn't want to guess, but I have the feeling'' we'll know soon enough. :''You reckon'' we oughta get help? :I ''don't believe'' I've ever known one. Evidential predicates indicate an uncertainty of the knowledge asserted in the sentence. According to , evidential predicates nearly always hedge the assertions and allow the respondents to hedge theirs. They protect speakers from the social embarrassment that appears, in case the assertion turns out to be wrong. As is the case with conditional syntax, evidential predicates can also be used to soften criticisms and to afford courtesy or respect.


Vocabulary

In the United States, the following vocabulary is mostly unique to, or best associated with, Southern U.S. English:Vaux, Bert and Scott Golder. 2003
The Harvard Dialect Survey
Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Linguistics Department.
*''Ain't'' to mean ''am not, is not, are not, have not, has not'', etc. *'' Bless your heart'' to express sympathy or concern to the addressee; often, now used ironically *''Buggy'' to mean ''
shopping cart A shopping cart (American English), trolley (British English, Australian English), or buggy (Southern American English, Appalachian English), also known by a variety of other names, is a wheeled cart supplied by a shop or store, especiall ...
'' *''Carry'' to additionally mean ''escort or accompany'' *''Catty-corner'' to mean ''located or placed diagonally'' *''Chill bumps'' as a
synonym A synonym is a word, morpheme, or phrase that means exactly or nearly the same as another word, morpheme, or phrase in a given language. For example, in the English language, the words ''begin'', ''start'', ''commence'', and ''initiate'' are a ...
for '' goose bumps'' *''Coke'' to mean any sweet, carbonated soft drink *''Crawfish'' to mean ''
crayfish Crayfish are freshwater crustaceans belonging to the clade Astacidea, which also contains lobsters. In some locations, they are also known as crawfish, craydids, crawdaddies, crawdads, freshwater lobsters, mountain lobsters, rock lobsters, ...
'' *''Devil is beating his wife'' to describe the weather phenomenon of a sunshower *''Fixin to'' to mean ''about to'' *'' Icing'' (preferred over ''frosting'', in the confectionary sense) *''Liketa'' to mean ''almost'' or ''nearly'' (in Alabama and
Appalachian English Appalachian English is American English native to the Appalachian mountain region of the Eastern United States. Historically, the term "Appalachian dialect" refers to a local English variety of southern Appalachia, also known as Smoky Mounta ...
) *''Ordinary'' to mean ''disreputable''
Dictionary.com
'. Dictionary.com Unabridged, based on the ''Random House Dictionary''. Random House, Inc. 2017.
*''Ornery'' to mean ''bad-tempered or surly'' (derived from ''ordinary'') *''Powerful'' to mean ''great in number or amount'' (used as an
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that generally modifies a verb, adjective, another adverb, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering que ...
) *''Right'' to mean ''very or extremely'' (used as an
adverb An adverb is a word or an expression that generally modifies a verb, adjective, another adverb, determiner, clause, preposition, or sentence. Adverbs typically express manner, place, time, frequency, degree, level of certainty, etc., answering que ...
) *''Reckon'' to mean ''think, guess, or conclude'' *''Rolling'' to mean the prank of
toilet papering Toilet papering (also called TP-ing, house wrapping, yard rolling, or simply rolling) is the act of covering an object, such as a tree, house, or another structure with toilet paper. This is typically done by throwing numerous toilet paper rolls ...
*''Slaw'' as a synonym for ''
coleslaw Coleslaw (from the Dutch term ''koolsla'' meaning 'cabbage salad'), also known as cole slaw, or simply as slaw, is a side dish consisting primarily of finely shredded raw cabbage with a salad dressing or condiment, commonly either vinaigrette ...
'' *''Taters'' to mean ''
potatoes The potato is a starchy food, a tuber of the plant ''Solanum tuberosum'' and is a root vegetable native to the Americas. The plant is a perennial in the nightshade family Solanaceae. Wild potato species can be found from the southern United S ...
'' *''Toboggan'' to mean '' knit cap'' *''Tote'' to mean ''carry''Algeo, John (ed.) (2001).
The Cambridge History of the English Language, Volume 3; Volume 6
'. Cambridge University Press. pp. 275-277.
*''Tump'' to mean ''tip or turn over'' as an intransitive verb (in the western South, including Texas and Louisiana) *''Veranda'' to mean ''large, roofed porch'' *''Yonder'' to mean ''over there'' Unique words can occur as Southern nonstandard past-tense forms of verbs, particularly in the Southern highlands and Piney Woods, as in ''yesterday they riz up, come outside, drawed, and drownded'', as well as participle forms like ''they have took it, rode it, blowed it up, and swimmed away''. ''Drug'' is traditionally both the past tense and participle form of the verb ''drag''.


Y'all

''
Y'all ''Y'all'' (pronounced ) is a contraction of '' you'' and ''all'', sometimes combined as ''you-all''. ''Y'all'' is the main second-person plural pronoun in Southern American English, with which it is most frequently associated, though it also ...
'' is a second person plural pronoun and the usual Southern plural form of the word ''you''. It is originally a
contraction Contraction may refer to: Linguistics * Contraction (grammar), a shortened word * Poetic contraction, omission of letters for poetic reasons * Elision, omission of sounds ** Syncope (phonology), omission of sounds in a word * Synalepha, merged ...
''you all''which is used less frequently. This term popularized with the modern Southern dialect and was only rarely used in older Southern dialects.Devlin, Thomas Moore (2019).
The Rise Of Y'all And The Quest For A Second-Person Plural Pronoun
. ''Babbel''. Lesson Nine GmbH.
* When addressing a group, ''y'all'' is general (I know y'all) and is used to address the group as a whole, whereas ''all y'all'' is used to emphasize specificity of each and every member of the group ("I know all y'all.") The possessive form of ''Y'all'' is created by adding the standard "-'s". *:"''I've got y'all's assignments here.''" * ''Y'all'' is distinctly separate from the singular ''you.'' The statement "''I gave y'all my truck payment last week,''" is more precise than "''I gave you my truck payment last week.''" ''You'' (if interpreted as singular) could imply the payment was given directly to the person being spoken towhen that may not be the case. * "All y'all" is used to specify that all members of the second person plural (''i.e.'', all persons currently being addressed and/or all members of a group represented by an addressee) are included; that is, it operates in contradistinction to "some of y'all", thereby functioning similarly to "all of you" in standard English. * In rural southern Appalachia an "n" is added to pronouns indicating "one" "his'n" "his one" "her'n" "her one" "Yor'n" "your one" i.e. "his, hers and yours". Another example is ''yernses''. It may be substituted for the 2nd person plural possessive ''yours.'' *:"''That book is yernses.''"


Southern Louisiana

Southern Louisiana English especially is known for some unique vocabulary: long sandwiches are often called ''poor boys'' or '' po' boys'', woodlice/roly-polies called ''doodle bugs'', the end of a bread loaf called a ''nose'', pedestrian islands and
median strip The median strip, central reservation, roadway median, or traffic median is the reserved area that separates opposing lanes of traffic on divided roadways such as divided highways, dual carriageways, freeways, and motorways. The term also ap ...
s alike called ''neutral ground'', and sidewalks called ''banquettes''.


Relationship to African-American English

Discussion of "Southern dialect" in the United States popularly refers to those English varieties spoken by white Southerners; however, as a geographic term, it may also encompass the dialects developed among other social or ethnic groups in the South, most prominently including African Americans. Today,
African-American Vernacular English African-American Vernacular English (AAVE, ), also referred to as Black (Vernacular) English, Black English Vernacular, or occasionally Ebonics (a colloquial, controversial term), is the variety of English natively spoken, particularly in urba ...
(AAVE) is a fairly unified variety of English spoken by working- and middle-class African Americans throughout the United States. AAVE exhibits an evident relationship with both older and newer Southern dialects, though the exact nature of this relationship is poorly understood. It is clear that AAVE was influenced by older speech patterns of the Southern United States, where Africans and African Americans were held as slaves until the
American Civil War The American Civil War (April 12, 1861 – May 26, 1865; also known by Names of the American Civil War, other names) was a civil war in the United States. It was fought between the Union (American Civil War), Union ("the North") and t ...
. These slaves originally spoke a diversity of indigenous African languages but picked up English to communicate with one another, their white masters, and the white servants and laborers they often closely worked alongside. Many features of AAVE suggest that it largely developed from nonstandard dialects of colonial English (with some features of AAVE absent from other modern American dialects, yet still existing in certain modern British dialects). However, there is also evidence of the influence of West African languages on AAE vocabulary and grammar. It is uncertain to what extent early white Southern English borrowed elements from early African-American Vernacular English versus the other way around. Like many white accents of English once spoken in Southern plantation areas—namely, the Lowcountry, Virginia Piedmont and Tidewater and lower Mississippi Valley—the modern-day AAVE accent is mostly non-rhotic (or "''r''-dropping" ). The presence of non-rhoticity in both black English and older white Southern English is not merely coincidence, though, again, which dialect influenced which is unknown. It is better documented, however, that white Southerners borrowed some morphological processes from black Southerners. Many grammatical features were used alike by older speakers of white Southern English and African-American Vernacular English more so than by contemporary speakers of the same two varieties. Even so, contemporary speakers of both continue to share these unique grammatical features: "existential ''it''", the word ''y'all'',
double negative A double negative is a construction occurring when two forms of grammatical negation are used in the same sentence. Multiple negation is the more general term referring to the occurrence of more than one negative in a clause. In some languages, d ...
s, ''was'' to mean ''were'', deletion of ''had'' and ''have'', ''them'' to mean ''those'', the term ''fixin' to'', stressing the first syllable of words like ''hotel'' or ''guitar'', and many others. Both dialects also continue to share these same pronunciation features: tensing, raising, upgliding , the pin–pen merger, and the most defining sound of the current Southern accent (though rarely documented in older Southern accents): the glide weakening of . However, while this glide weakening has triggered among white Southerners a complicated "Southern Vowel Shift", black speakers in the South and elsewhere on the other hand are "not participating or barely participating" in much of this shift. AAVE speakers also do not front the vowel starting positions of and , thus aligning these characteristics more with the speech of 19th-century white Southerners than 20th-century white Southerners. One strong possibility for the divergence of black American English and white Southern American English (i.e., the disappearance of older Southern American English) is that the civil rights struggles caused these two racial groups "to stigmatize linguistic variables associated with the other group". This may explain some of the differences outlined above, including why most traditionally non-rhotic white Southern accents have shifted to now becoming intensely rhotic.


See also

* Accent perception *
African-American English African-American English (or AAE; also known as Black American English, or Black English in American linguistics) is the set of English sociolects spoken by most Black people in the United States and many in Canada; most commonly, it refers ...
*
Appalachian English Appalachian English is American English native to the Appalachian mountain region of the Eastern United States. Historically, the term "Appalachian dialect" refers to a local English variety of southern Appalachia, also known as Smoky Mounta ...
* Drawl * High Tider *
Regional vocabularies of American English Regional vocabulary within American English varies. Below is a list of lexical differences in vocabulary that are generally associated with a region. A term featured on a list may or may not be found throughout the region concerned, and may or ...
* Southern literature * Texan English


References


Sources

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External links

* * * * * {{Languages of the United States American English African-American English Culture of the Southern United States Vowel shifts