This Is AuburnElectronic Theses and Dissertations

What Do Y'all Think?: A Study of Language Attitudes in the South




Hasty, James

Type of Degree





This indirect language attitude study of Southerners’ views of Southern United States English (SUSE) surveyed 90 students (49 female, 41 male) from sections of the second-semester freshman-level composition class at Auburn University in the spring of 2006. The results of this study show that in comparison to Northern and Midwestern varieties, Southerners have a high regard for SUSE in solidarity features but a particularly low regard for SUSE in status features. As has been seen in previous studies of nonstandard speakers and of Southern speakers particularly, this study shows that in the South there is a mixture of linguistic insecurity and covert prestige assigned to SUSE. The present study is further validated in its view of Southern language attitudes because the recommendations of Preston (1986) that respondents indicated where a voice sample is from and what speech region that state corresponds to on the respondents’ mental map of dialect boundaries have been utilized. Doing so has allowed the results of the present study to be interpreted with a greater amount of accuracy. Following the recommendations of Giles and Ryan (1982) and Carilge et al. (1994), the present study also shows the great importance of determining whether all of the respondents in a language attitude study identify with the speech group in which they have been placed by the researchers. In the present study, the data reveal significant differences in the rankings given by respondents not identifying with the South compared to respondents who do identify with the South and that these non-identifying respondents have an even greater degree of linguistic insecurity.