Re: My version

From: Francesco Brighenti
Message: 63164
Date: 2009-02-19

--- In, "tgpedersen" <tgpedersen@...> wrote:

> AFAIK American English has three main dialect groups, New
> England, Southern and Standard. On a map, Standard looks like it
> fanned out of New York, like smoke from a smokestack, with the two
> other dialects on the side, with the old British colonial centers
> Boston and Virginia, emphasizing the role of those ports as entry
> points for later (New York) and early immigration. New York was
> originally Dutch speaking. Those are the sociological facts. There
> is no way that would not have influenced the phonology of Standard
> American. AFAIK no one ever looked at the question from this angle.

This is very likely, yet I notice that you and other participants in
this discussion keep on emphasizing the differences in regional
varieties of US English as rightful differences of 'dialect' whereas
they are, in case, differences of 'accent'. The latter term "refers
to the way in which a speaker pronounces, and therefore refers to a
variety which is phonetically and/or phonologically different from
other varieties. 'Dialect', on the other hand, refers to varieties
which are grammatically (and perhaps lexically) as well as
phonologically different from other varieties" (J.K. Chambers & P.
Trudgill, _Dialectology_, Cambridge Univ. Press, 1980, p. 5).

In other words, a difference of 'accent' is a difference between
varieties of a language (e.g., General English) which involves only
pronunciation; on the contrary, a difference of 'dialect' may
involve any or all of syntax, morphology, lexicon, AND

Do regional varieties of US (or Canadian, Australian etc.) English
show the GRAMMATICAL variations that are the necessary requisite of
any genuine 'dialect' as defined by Chambers and Trudgill? I don't
think so. Lexical variations, which undoubtedly exist in regional
varieties of US, Canadian, Australian English (etc.), are not so
significant as the required (but, in our case, lacking)
morphological and syntactical variations for assigning a 'dialectal'
status to any such variety of English.

By contrast, most of 'dialects' of Italian (which was the original
topic of this discussion) show variations not only in pronunciation
and lexicon, but also in GRAMMAR.

Just to give a couple of examples (I hope you realize there is many
more of them):

1) In many southern Italian dialects, the direct object is
introduced by the preposition "a" (Engl. "to") when the object is
animate. Example: Neapolitan <aggiu visto a Giuseppe> (vs. standard
Italian <ho visto Giuseppe> and the similar northern and central
Italian dialectal usages ), 'I have seen Giuseppe'. This grammatical
feature is generally traced back by dialectologists to some ancient
southern Italian variety of spoken (Vulgar) Latin. Do instances of
similar relevant grammatical variations (of the type 'I have seen
*to* Joseph'), concerning the use of prepositions, exist in, e.g.,
US English?

2) Another example, again from the Italian South: Sicilian
<sicilianu sugnu> 'I am Sicilian' (vs. standard Italian <sono
siciliano> and the similar northern and central Italian dialectal
usages), i.e., an inversion of the relative positions of the copula
and the predicate. Anything similar in US English varieties (I mean,
of the type 'American I am')?