Speakers of Southern English make up the largest accent group I the United States. The South is the nation’s most populous region, home to 36% of all Americans, or approximately 110 million residents (US Census Bureau, 2006).
The South is increasing in population size, “attracting a diverse populace” while holding on to its native flock. African Americans, who had grown up in the South and moved away to pursue educational or occupational opportunities are deciding to make back to their birth-states. The South is predicted to remain the most populous region in the United States in years to come.
1.4.4 - QUICK FACTS
Despite the strong influence of Southern history, language, and lifestyle on the American culture, Southern English is one of the most denigrated and stigmatized language varieties in the U.S. With a history marked by slavery, an agrarian economy, the Civil War, segregation, and political and religious conservatism, the South has often been called an old-fashioned, traditional region that is short in economic and cultural progress.
Southern people have often been regarded as racist, lazy, uneducated, and slow, and, in the same, the language that marks the people of this region is thought by many people to be proof of Southerners’ backward nature. However, Southern Accent also tends to be associated with pleasantness and friendliness.
1.4.5 - PHONOLOGICAL FEATURES
Absence of the "r" sound in Southern Speech - [New Yawk, Pahk the cah]
"-ing" and "-in" alternation – [walkin, eatin, running, etc.]
"Wadn’t" and "wasn’t" alternation – can also be seen in words like [bidness] for [business]
The "ai" sound becoming "a" monophthong – [bye/bah, died/dad, fire/far, tire/tar]
The "oy" sound becoming a monophthong – [oil/all, boil/ball, toil/tall]
The pin/pen merger
The fill/feel and fail/fell mergers
The ant sound – [ain’t and can’t and aunt may all sound like they have the same vowel]
SOME PHONOLOGICAL FEATURES OF SAE
1.4.6 - EDUCATIONAL IMPLICATIONS
Southern English-speaking students may have a different notion of rhyming words - [ pin/pen, bin/ben, din/den, time/tom, wheel/will may be pronounced the same]
Southern English-speaking students may also have problems with the spelling of these words - [sense/since, wint/went, thim/them, whin/when, mint/meant, Winsday/Wednesday, imminent/eminent, etc].
When assessing standardized speech or writing, before marking mistakes, it is thus necessary to consider whether the potential error might be rooted in the language variation.
1.4.7 - Grammar
AIN'T - The word "ain't" is often used as a helping or linking verb in nonstandardized varieties of English. Many speakers of English, including SAE speakers, use "ain't" instead of "am not," "is not," and "are not." - [I ain't hungry], [He ain't old enough]
MULTIPLE NEGATIVES - While the use of multiple negatives within one sentence or clause is highly stigmatized, they are not uncommon in SAE - [He don't know nothing], [I ain't seen him neither].
ABSENCE OF PLURAL MARKERS - In SAE, nouns of weight or measure, such as the words "pound" and "mile" may not the plural marker "s" in the plural form - [twenty mile], [fifty cent], [three foot], [six ton], etc.
GRAMMATICAL FEATURES OF SAE
1.4.7 - Grammar
REGULARIZATION OF PRONOUNS AND POSSESSIVES - The use of nonstandardized English pronouns such as "hisself, theirself, yourn, hisn" may be marked as serious errors in standardized English. These often occur as an effort to regularize the grammatical form in question [myself, herself, ourself, theirself].
REGULARIZATION OF VERB PATTERNS - [I saw her/I seen her/ I seemed her/I seed her], [they wasn't there].
MULTIPLE MODEL VERBS - Verbs such as can, could, should shall, would, will, may, might, and must are called modal verbs. In SAE, it is possible to use two or even three modal verbs together - [ I might could go to the party], [ I might would want a new bicycle].
FIXING TO - is used in SAE to indicate immediate future. It may also be pronounced [fixta or finna] - [ It looks like it's fixing to rain].