Sociolinguist Peter Trudghill has noted that “increased geographical mobility during the course of the twentieth century lead to the disappearance of many dialects and dialect forms through a process called dialect levelling–the levelling out of differences between one dialect and another ( 2000:155).
In her article Dialect leveling and /ai/ monophthongization among African American Detroiters, Bridget L. Anderson examines how “Detroit African Americans are participating in a recent sound change which is typically associated with some White, but not African American, varieties in the American South.” She notes that “although both Southern White and African American speakers monophthongize /ai/ in pre-voiced phonetic contexts (tide), the spread of the monophthongal or glide-reduced variant to pre-voiceless environments (tight) is a salient characteristic of some subregions of the Southern U.S.” She also draws attention to “a leveling pattern in which /ai/ monophthongization has expanded to the salient pre-voiceless context in Detroit African American English (AAE).”
After reading Anderson’s article,
1-Identify and discuss some of the major findings of her study.
2-Do you think that “dialect levelling is continuing in the geographical area you are most familiar with?
3- Does this mean that there will eventually be only one dialect?
4- What other forces might be at work that would cause new dialects to emerge?