Hilary Prichard will be defending her dissertation, "The role of higher education in linguistic
change" this Friday. The defense is open to the public and
will begin promptly at 1:45pm in the IRCS Fishbowl.
Just in case: IRCS is at 3401 Walnut Street, 4th floor, suite 400A. Make two lefts out of the elevators and the Fishbowl is straight ahead (Room 478).
*Title: The role of higher education in linguistic change*
Supervisor: Bill Labov
Committee members: Robin Dodsworth (NCSU), Meredith Tamminga, Charles Yang
Time: February 12th, 1:45pm
Place: IRCS Fishbowl (Room 478)
This dissertation examines the interaction between a social variable, higher education, and the linguistic variables which constitute local dialects. I draw on literature in both sociolinguistics and the sociology of education to reformulate the education variable, and employ a quantitative corpus-based methodology to examine the linguistic correlates of this variable.
Two case studies are presented. The first uses data from the Philadelphia Neighborhood Corpus to study the extent to which Philadelphians with differing educational backgrounds have maintained local dialect features over the past century, while the second uses the Raleigh Corpus to study education's role in the reversal of the Southern Vowel Shift.
Finally, the results of these two studies are explained with reference to the social salience of the features which show stratification according to education. I argue that data from previous sociolinguistic perception studies as well as new data regarding attitudes towards the local dialects show that speakers with elite educational backgrounds are avoiding only the most stereotypical and negatively-evaluated local features, while participating fully in the rest of the local system. This result has significant implications for future work, as it shows that social evaluation does not simply arise in response to linguistic innovation, but may also act in turn as a driving force behind linguistic change.