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Languages and diealects in the US

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Languages and Dialects in the U.S. is a concise introduction to language varieties
and dialects in the U.S. for students with little to no background in linguistics.
This edited collection of fourteen chapters offers students detailed insight into the
languages they speak and hear around them, framed within the context of language contact, with the goal of promoting students’ appreciation of linguistic and
cultural diversity. The book begins with “setting the stage” chapters, introducing
the concepts of language contact and diversity and the sociocultural context of
the languages and dialects featured in the book. The remaining chapters are each
devoted to a particular U.S. dialect or variety of American English, exploring the
language’s sociolinguistic context, history, and salient grammatical features, with
problem sets and suggested further readings to reinforce students’ understanding
of basic concepts and new linguistic terminology. The languages and dialects covered include three Native American languages (Navajo, Shoshoni, and Mandan),
African American English, Chicano English, Jamaican Patwa, Southwest Spanish,
Dominican Spanish, Chinese varieties, Haitian Creole, Cajun French, Louisiana

Creole, and vernacular (or nonstandard) varieties of English.
By presenting students with both the linguistic and sociocultural and political foundations of these particular language varieties, Languages and Dialects in the
U.S. argues for linguistic and cultural diversity in the U.S., ideal for students in
introductory courses in linguistics, sociolinguistics, language and society, language
and culture, and language variation and change.
Marianna Di Paolo is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University
of Utah.
Arthur K. Spears is Presidential Professor of Anthropology and Linguistics at
The City University of New York.

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Focus on Diversity and Linguistics

Edited by
Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears

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Please visit www.routledge.com/textbooks/instructordownload for
access to the answer keys to the problem sets included in this book.
First published 2014
by Routledge
711 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10017
And by Routledge
2 Park Square, Milton Park, Abingdon, Oxon OX14 4RN
Routledge is an imprint of the Taylor & Francis Group, an informa business
© 2014 Taylor & Francis
The right of Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears to be identified as
the authors of the editorial material, and of the authors for their individual
chapters, has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the

Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reprinted or reproduced or
utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical, or other means, now
known or hereafter invented, including photocopying and recording, or in
any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing
from the publishers.
Trademark notice: Product or corporate names may be trademarks or registered
trademarks, and are used only for identification and explanation without
intent to infringe.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
 Languages and dialects in the U.S. : focus on diversity and linguistics /
edited by Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears.
  pages cm.
Includes bibliographical references and index.
1. Dialectology–Research–United States.  2. United States–Languages.
3. Language and languages–Variation.  I. Di Paolo, Marianna.  II. Spears,
Arthur K. (Arthur Kean), 1943–
P367.5.U6L37 2013
ISBN: 978-0-415-72857-7 (hbk)
ISBN: 978-0-415-72860-7 (pbk)
ISBN: 978-1-315-85160-0 (ebk)
Typeset in Bembo
by Apex CoVantage, LLC



List of Tables
Setting the Stage


Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears


1 Language Contact
Arthur K. Spears and Marianna Di Paolo


2 Thinking about Diversity
Arthur K. Spears
Indigenous U.S. Language Varieties



Keren Rice


Dirk Elzinga and Marianna Di Paolo


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vi Contents

 5 Mandan
Mauricio J. Mixco
English and Other U.S. Language Varieties
  6 Vernacular Dialects of English

Walt Wolfram



  7 African American English
Arthur K. Spears


  8 Chicano English
Carmen Fought


  9 Jamaican Creole
Peter L. Patrick


10 Southwest Spanish
MaryEllen Garcia


11 Dominican Spanish
Barbara E. Bullock and Almeida Jacqueline Toribio



Lauren Hall-Lew and Amy Wing-mei Wong


13 Haitian Creole
Arthur K. Spears


14 Cajun French and Louisiana Creole
Michael D. Picone





  3.1 Comparing words in the Navajo and Apache languages
  3.2 Navajo consonant system
  3.3 Navajo vowels
  3.4 Navajo diphthongs
  3.5Summary of verb morpheme identification and ordering
of morphemes
  4.1 Shoshoni vowels
  4.2 Demonstratives and demonstrative pronouns (objective forms)
  4.3 Shoshoni phrases
  4.4 Shoshoni locatives
  4.5 Shoshoni noncoronal stops and continuants
  4.6 Shoshoni coronal stops and continuants
  4.7 Additional Shoshoni data on coronal stops and continuants
  4.8 Shoshoni [s] and [ ʃ ]65
  4.9 Data on Shoshoni stops and continuants
4.10 Summary of morphophonological analysis
  5.1 Mandan and Hidatsa in the Siouan-Catawba language family
  5.2 The Mississippi Valley subbranch of Siouan
  5.3 Mandan vowel length data
  5.4 Mandan vowel nasalization data
  5.5 Mandan vowel nasalization exercise
  5.6 Mandan phonology data
  5.7 Mandan subject agreement data
  5.8 Subject agreement exercise
  5.9 Additional subject agreement exercise
5.10 Additional Mandan subject agreement data
5.11 Mandan subject and object agreement morphemes

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viii Tables

5.12 Mandan verb stem exercise
5.13 Mandan verb stem data
5.14 Mandan data on inflection for tense
5.15 Mandan data on inflection for Negation-A
5.16 Mandan data on inflection for Negation-B
5.17 Mandan mystery suffixes data
5.18 More Mandan mystery suffixes data
  6.1 List A: Sentence pairs for a-prefixing88
  6.2 Comparing intuitions for different speaker groups
  6.3 Grammaticality and social acceptability exercise
  6.4 Restructured past tense be96
  6.5 An alternative regularization of past tense be97
  6.6 Devoicing in vernacular dialects
  6.7 Consonant cluster simplification
  7.1 Example sentences with be done110
  7.2 Clause sequence in be done sentences
  7.3Word set #1: Postvocalic word-final /l/ in a
Midwestern variety of AAE
  7.4Word set #2: Postvocalic word-final /l/ in a
Midwestern variety of AAE
  7.5Word set #3: Postvocalic word-final /l/ in a
Midwestern variety of AAE
  8.1Data from Rosanna (a nonnative speaker of English whose
first language is Spanish; age 56)
  8.2 Joaquín (older-generation native CHE speaker; age 45)
  8.3 Chuck (younger-generation native CHE speaker; age 17)
  9.1English vowels and word classes with Jamaican
Creole equivalents
10.1 Categories of traditional Pachuco Caló
10.2 Beginning-level reducing hiatus data
10.3 Intermediate-level reducing hiatus data
11.1 Data from regional dialects of Dominican Spanish
11.2 Dominican hypercorrection data
11.3 /s/-deletion data from Dominican Spanish
11.4 Hypercorrect forms in Dominican Spanish
11.5 Double plural marking data
12.1 English words borrowed into Cantonese
12.2 English words containing /l/ borrowed into Cantonese
12.3Additional English words containing /l/ borrowed
into Cantonese
12.4 Data on Mandarin Chinese classifiers
12.5 Additional data on Mandarin Chinese classifiers
13.1 Some Haitian words of French origin
13.2 Comparison of words in three Haitian varieties and in French


Tables  ix

13.3 Some Haitian possessive adjective suffixes, Port de Paix dialect
13.4 Some nouns and possessive suffixes, Port de Paix dialect
13.5Verbs requiring the presence or absence of te under certain
conditions, Port de Paix dialect
13.6 The meanings of two verbs
14.1 French nouns
14.2 Codeswitched (English) nouns
14.3 Tense, mood, and aspect


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Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears

This textbook is the outgrowth of an idea first discussed at a meeting of the
Committee on Ethnic Diversity in Linguistics (CEDL) of the Linguistic Society
of America (LSA). CEDL’s charge is not only to research ethnic diversity in the
field of linguistics in the U.S. but also to find ways to increase diversity among
those studying linguistics. Proceeds from the sale of this textbook will go to support CEDL’s work.
The first goal of this book is to interest a broad, diverse range of students in
linguistics by providing course work that discusses in some detail the languages
that they speak or that they hear around them. The second goal is to get students
to understand the systematic, rule-governed nature of all language varieties by
means of hands-on introductory exercises on the grammars of a sampling of language varieties spoken in the U.S., including those lacking in prestige or suffering
from stigma.
This textbook can be used as a main text or one of several texts in introductory
linguistics courses and other introductory courses dealing with sociolinguistics,
language in the U.S., language in society, language and culture, and language
diversity. It is strongly recommended that students in courses using this textbook have taken or be taking concurrently an introductory linguistics course.
The introductory chapters are on language contact and diversity. Part II consists
of three chapters on American Indian languages representing three different large
language families. A chapter on U.S. English vernaculars begins Part III since it
covers vernacular Englishes as a group—and issues related to vernaculars generally, not just English ones. Chapters on specific varieties of American English and
on other languages spoken in the U.S. follow. Since all of the language-variety
chapters stand alone, instructors may want to start with the language varieties
most familiar to students in their classes and then go on to less familiar varieties.

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xii Preface

These specific-language chapters have exercises ranging from phonology, morphology, and syntax to semantics, sometimes combining two of these core areas
of linguistics in one problem. By having problem sets in the language chapters,
we can also back up our claims about all language varieties being rule-governed
and systematic, each with its own grammar. Students can see firsthand that the
language variety under consideration is not just a “lot of slang,” “defective,” “corrupt,” or a “broken version” of some other (standard) language variety. The chapters allow students to begin to understand that each and every language variety
can furnish a window into the workings of the human mind and human social
There is no other textbook like this one. Perhaps the closest book to this
one, though quite different in purpose, is Language Diversity in the USA, edited
by Kim Potowski, which takes a sociology-of-language approach to U.S. language diversity. It contains more in-depth treatments of demographics, along with
other discussions (e.g., of history and language use) of the type that appear in this
book’s chapters. However, it has no material on language structure and offers no
problem sets.
The word ethnic is in CEDL’s name, but its members have actually been concerned with all types of diversity and, more specifically, increasing the representation in our field of members of groups with little or no presence within the
current community of linguists. These groups are those that have historically suffered discrimination and limited access to college. Included are groups of color,
for example, African Americans, Asians, Caribbean-language-heritage groups,
Native Americans, Pacific Islanders, Roma (also known as Gypsies), a number of
Spanish-language-heritage groups, and others. (See the chapter “Thinking about
Diversity” for more on these issues.) Also included is the working class, who
often speak vernacular (i.e., nonstandard) language varieties and who often face
greater challenges in gaining a college education than do members of more affluent groups. Though CEDL is concerned with diversity in a broad sense, in practice we have focused in this textbook on groups who have more members and/
or about whom the contributors have more expertise. Thus, our focus in practice
has been on marginalized ethnic groups and the working class.
We believe that more students from diverse backgrounds would be attracted
to the field of linguistics if instructors in introductory courses made more use of
course materials based on data from the language varieties of these groups. The
thinking is that students would also feel more comfortable in their learning situations and have more appreciative views of their instructors if validations of their
cultural backgrounds and special problems were given explicit recognition in the
classroom and in teaching materials. This textbook, of course, also serves more
traditional students by introducing them to the same information and challenging
them to think about their views on all types of language varieties.
CEDL’s members believe that many instructors of linguistics courses would be
more than willing to use materials that make crucial use of the students’ vernaculars


Preface  xiii

(their everyday language with close family members and peers) and the students’
speech communities, but they may not have the time or resources to create them.
To make such materials readily available and to encourage the creation and dissemination of more materials of this type, CEDL sponsored a workshop at the
2003 Annual Meeting of the LSA, “Practical Approaches to Incorporating Linguistic Diversity into Linguistics Courses.”This book incorporates two of the five
presentations made at that workshop, Garcia’s and Wolfram’s.
Often, in introductory textbooks, there are no exercises on marginalized language varieties, or very few. (American Indian languages fare best in this regard.)
And the exercises on English deal only with standard English. Discussions of
vernacular English varieties are typically left for later in the book when sociolinguistics is discussed. CEDL members questioned whether our professed respect
for and serious study of nonmainstream language varieties will be taken seriously
if these varieties are normally shunted to the last part of the textbook, reserved
for topics that most instructors consider optional. Introductory sociolinguistics
textbooks are also found wanting. They typically offer some descriptions of vernacular varieties but do not present students with data-rich problem sets to work
For this book, we started by deciding to present chapters discussing nonstandard (or vernacular) language varieties, focusing on those of the larger language
minorities in the U.S. such as African American English, Southwest Spanish,
American Indian languages, and Jamaican Creole (Patwa). The basic rationale for
including all of these chapters in this text is that they will give more weight to
linguists’ assertion that we value and treasure all language varieties, not just those
enjoying power and prestige.
Some students have acquired negative views about their native or home language varieties, often through what they have been taught in school and have
heard through the mass media. They erroneously believe that their languages
are somehow inferior, unsystematic, or defective. This popular view of vernacular varieties is in direct contradiction to what empirical linguistic research has
demonstrated. Some of these important findings are summarized in a resolution
adopted unanimously by the LSA at its Annual Meeting in 1997, which asserts
that “all human language systems—spoken, signed, and written—are fundamentally regular” and that characterizations of socially disfavored varieties as “slang,
mutant, defective, ungrammatical, or broken English are incorrect and demeaning.” We trust that after working through this book’s exercises, students will share
this view.

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We take this opportunity to acknowledge the support we have received in preparing this book. We thank The City College of  The City University of New York’s
Office of the President, Gregory H. Williams, and the Department of Anthropo­
logy at the University of Utah for supporting our work. Also, we thank Penny
Eckert for suggesting the idea of this book at a CEDL meeting, MaryEllen Garcia
for sticking with it for so many years, and Walt Wolfram,Tracey Weldon, and Geoffrey Nunberg for their input and advice on early drafts. (Wolfram also contributed
a chapter.) Finally, we would like to recognize the hard work of our assistants in
helping to bring this book project to its conclusion; they are Jeff Chapple, Charles
Townsend, and Deborah Wager.

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Setting the Stage

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Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears

This introduction, like the entire book, is written primarily for students but also for
instructors. Instructors will already be familiar with basic information presented
in this and the other chapters, but we hope that this chapter in particular will assist
them by presenting a brief look at the relationship of fundamental linguistic ideas
to this book’s goal of increasing diversity in the corps of linguists. Linguists, as
you probably already know, are language scientists, conducting empirical research
on all the world’s language varieties—their grammatical structures and their roles
and functioning in society and culture. (Important terms are in bold when they
are defined.) The work of linguists is to describe the workings of language, not to
prescribe what someone thinks language ought to be. Our work, in other words,
is descriptive, not prescriptive, and this applies not only to grammar but also to
what is said, even taboo words and messages. The chapter on diversity provides a
more detailed discussion of the idea of diversity, so here we will limit ourselves to
some basic comments on it.
This textbook is considered a beginning. We hope that it will be expanded in
the future to include more language varieties, illustrating the scope of our concern. Consequently, if you, as a student, are not represented by a language chapter,
we hope that at least your language background (for example, bilingualism), if not
one of the languages you speak, is mentioned in these pages.

The Structure of the Book
This textbook is intended to be used as either a supplement to an introductory
textbook covering core areas of linguistics, with additional chapters on historical
linguistics and bilingualism or sociolinguistics, or as the main text of a course on

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4  Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears

linguistic diversity in the U.S., following or taken concurrently with an introductory linguistics course that has included linguistic analysis.
As linguists, we care about the lives of the speakers of the languages we study,
the socioeconomic conditions that allow these languages and their speakers to
survive and thrive. A number of the language varieties that chapters are devoted
to are endangered, notably, but not solely, American Indian languages. Other language varieties included in this volume, such as Southwest Spanish or African
American English, are greatly misunderstood and often given little respect. In
many cases the varieties were shaped in a multilingual community and continue
to reflect that rich heritage. These concerns have led us to provide in each chapter remarks on sociolinguistics—that is, the condition of the language variety in
culture and society along with the ways that condition affects and is affected by
sociolinguistic variation. Each language chapter also has sources for further reading. The issues confronting that group and their language variety determined the
topics selected for discussion.

Sociolinguistic variation refers to the many instances in language, reflecting sociocultural patterns, in which there are two or more ways to say the same
thing, for example, talking vs. talkin’.

The culmination of each chapter is the set of exercises, which lead the
beginning-level student to some understanding of language in general and of that
language variety in particular. By working through a tiny area of each language
variety’s grammar, students can actually “experience” the grammar of these language varieties and gain some idea of why linguists find them fascinating.
We assume that beginning-level students will have some knowledge of a particular core area of linguistics before working through problem sets in that area.
For example, before beginning a problem set on the phonology of Dominican
Spanish, we recommend that the students read about phonology in their primary
textbook and that the instructor review the basic concepts in phonology pertinent to the data in the problem. The students will then get the maximum benefit
from working through the phonology exercises on Dominican Spanish.
Beginning with this introduction, Part I of the book sets the stage for the chapters on particular language varieties. In Chapter 1, “Language Contact,” Arthur K.
Spears and Marianna Di Paolo present issues related to bilingual and multilingual
societies that have shaped and may continue to shape many of the language varieties described in the language chapters. There are many basic facts about multilingualism of which most students are unaware, for example, that most of the
world’s peoples by far live and have lived in multilingual communities, no doubt


Introduction  5

since the earliest days of human language. Consequently, in an important sense,
multilingualism is the “natural” human condition. With multilingualism, there is
always language contact, within one speaker (the bilingual, for example) and/or
within one community. Many students may subscribe to the erroneous belief that
multilingualism has a negative effect on a speaker’s cognitive abilities; in fact, more
recent research indicates that the multilingual speaker has a cognitive advantage.
The chapter on language contact also clarifies that multilingualism has been
a key factor in the history of languages; it is not simply a currently widespread
situation globally. For example, multilingualism was present in the communities
in which African American English and Jamaican Creole (Patwa) were created,
via influences from several languages in contact—as a result of multilingualism. By
developing a clearer idea of what multilingualism and language contact are about,
to take two concepts treated in the chapter, students can begin to understand how
important they are and see them as resources, not obstacles.
The language contact chapter ties into Spears’s chapter on diversity in a number of ways. As noted, understanding linguistic situations in communities helps
students to understand groups in whose lives these linguistic situations are more
prominent. Some of these groups are speakers of stigmatized language varieties,
and they suffer various kinds of discrimination. The language contact chapter
seeks to increase understanding and respect for largely stigmatized varieties,
while the chapter on diversity seeks to increase understanding and respect for the
speaker communities of these language varieties.
However, greater understanding and respect for speaker communities also
require consideration of history, society, and culture as they relate to diversity in
the U.S. Generally, language varieties are stigmatized because their speakers suffer from stigma and discrimination. Such speakers’ histories and contributions
to society often go unrecognized, not only because of a lack of knowledge, but
also because students and others buy into myths and stereotypes. The chapter on
diversity draws on anthropology—the holistic, comparative, and historical study
of humankind—to refute some of the myths and stereotypes that contribute the
most to a lack of interest in or a rejection of increasing diversity in our national
life. In addition, the chapter on diversity contextualizes issues of opportunity,
inequality, internal oppression, bias, and discrimination—for instructors as well as
students. It argues that linguistics can speak to students about their own languages
in the context of their own lives.
Part II presents chapters on a selection of American Indian languages representing three large language families. We wanted to honor, so to speak, the indigenous language varieties covered in this book (Navajo, Shoshoni, and Mandan)
by placing them before nonindigenous varieties, that is, in Part II. We start with
the most spoken and least endangered one, Navajo (although it is endangered to
some extent), and end with Mandan, which has only a handful of speakers and is
most endangered. The problem sets on American Indian languages highlight the
fact that languages are often complex in different ways.

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6  Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears

The first of these chapters is by Keren Rice on Navajo, an Athabaskan language and the U.S. indigenous language with the greatest number of speakers.The
chapter provides a short introduction to the Navajo people and the language’s
linguistic affiliation, followed by problem sets on Navajo phonology, morphology,
syntax, and verb semantics (classificatory verbs), and then ends with problem sets
based on the work of the Navajo Code Talkers from World War II.
The Shoshoni chapter, by Dirk Elzinga and Marianna Di Paolo, situates this
Great Basin language as a member of the Uto-Aztecan language family. It includes
a sketch of Sacagawea, perhaps the most famous Shoshoni speaker, and her linguistic role in the Lewis and Clark Expedition. It concludes with problem sets on
Shoshoni phonology, morphophonology, and syntax.
Next is Mauricio J. Mixco’s chapter on Mandan, an indigenous language of
North Dakota, which begins with background information on the Mandan and
their language, including a short grammatical sketch to facilitate solving the problems. The problem sets have Mandan phonology problems and an extensive set of
morphology problems.
Nonindigenous language varieties follow in Part III. It presents chapters on
U.S. vernacular varieties of English and other languages spoken in the U.S. Our
selection is based on an attempt, within the confines of a single volume, to cover
as many different types of varieties as possible that have an easily available linguistic literature. We decided to order the chapters on nonindigenous varieties
by their relatedness, including lexical relatedness. Thus, Jamaican Creole “Patwa”
is grouped with English varieties because it is “English-related.” The bulk of its
vocabulary came from English. Jamaican is not English and is not mutually intelligible with English. We hasten to point out also that Jamaican has its own grammar. In the same way, Haitian Creole is grouped with the Cajun variety of French
and Louisiana Creole.
We then arranged these nonindigenous language-variety groups approximately by the number of speakers in the U.S., starting with languages having the
highest number of speakers. Thus, English varieties and the English-related creole
language, Jamaican, are followed by Spanish varieties, then Chinese, and so on.
(Note that Chinese actually refers to a group of related languages, all treated in
one chapter.)
Like chapters 3–5 in Part II, chapters 6–14 in Part III each begin with a brief
discussion of the history and social context of the language variety, followed by
a description of some of its salient linguistic features, and end with problem sets
or exercises. The first of these chapters is Walt Wolfram’s “Vernacular Dialects of
English.” It is presented first since it treats English vernaculars generally and thus
serves as a useful starting point for considering English varieties. It gives students
hands-on experience with data illustrating the highly patterned nature of vernacular varieties of U.S. English and guides students through an understanding of the
difference between grammaticality and social acceptability. It includes problem
sets on the phonology, morphology, and syntax of Southern American English


Introduction  7

(focusing on the English of Appalachia and the Outer Banks of North Carolina)
and the syntax and semantics of African American English.
Next is Spears’s chapter “African American English.” This U.S. variety, actually
a group of varieties, has been widely studied by linguists and is sometimes widely
misunderstood by the general population.The chapter discusses the various terms
such as Ebonics that are also used to label African American English, the variety’s
origin and development, its present-day use, and some of its grammatical characteristics. The problem set deals with phonology (syllable-final /l/) and also the
semantics and pragmatics of a disapproval marker, be done.
Carmen Fought’s chapter, “Chicano English,” tackles the question of what
Chicano English is, its role in the Mexican American speech communities from
which it arose, and its relationship to both English and Spanish. Based on data
collected in Los Angeles, Fought’s problem sets lead students to understand the
phonological differences between the English of nonnative speakers whose native
language is Spanish and the English of true native speakers of Chicano English,
who may not know any Spanish at all.
Chapter 9 presents an English-related language, Jamaican Creole, which originated in the Caribbean nation of Jamaica but is now also spoken by a sizable
community in the U.S.—and in Canada and Great Britain as well. Peter L. Patrick
introduces di Patwa, the term used by its speakers, by providing a social and linguistic history of Jamaica, concentrating on the development of this creole from
its multilingual roots. The problem sets allow students to explore the phonology
of the language, its phonological relationship to British English, and its syntax and
Chapters 10 and 11 are on two Spanish language varieties spoken in the U.S.
The first of these is “Southwest Spanish” by MaryEllen Garcia, which begins by
defining the variety and providing a linguistic sketch of this regional vernacular compared to Standard Spanish, followed by a section on Pachuco Caló and
codeswitching. Garcia has problem sets on phonology, the lexicon as a product of
long-term Spanish-English contact, and codeswitching.
The next chapter focuses on Dominican Spanish. In comparison to colonial
Southwest Spanish, it is a relatively recent arrival to the U.S. but also one of the
oldest vernaculars of Spanish in the Americas. Barbara E. Bullock and Almeida
Jacqueline Toribio’s chapter situates Dominican Spanish both in its country of
origin as well as in vibrant and growing communities in the U.S. They follow a
linguistic sketch of Dominican Spanish with problem sets on phonology, morphology, and syntax.
Next we have Lauren Hall-Lew and Amy Wing-mei Wong’s chapter on Chinese,
which begins with a classification of Chinese homeland dialects and then discusses
the varieties of Chinese brought by immigrants to the U.S. beginning in 1830. A
short sketch of notable linguistic features of the language is provided as well as a
basic description of the writing system. The chapter ends with problem sets on the
phonology of words borrowed into Chinese from English, and on noun classifiers.

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8  Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears

The final two chapters move the focus to French-related creole languages and
a variety of French spoken in the U.S. First we have Spears’s chapter on Haitian
Creole, the language created in colonial Haiti. Today, Haiti shares the island of
Hispaniola with the Dominican Republic. To explain how the new language,
Haitian Creole, emerged and is now regarded, the chapter reviews the multilingual history of Haiti, the relationship of Haitian to French, and the current
languages of Haitians in the U.S. Spears provides problem sets on phonology
and morphology as they interact with dialect variation and also problems on the
semantics and pragmatics of tense marking.
Michael D. Picone’s chapter on Cajun French and Louisiana Creole, which
situates them within the complex linguistic history of Louisiana, completes the
volume. In it, he distinguishes the two varieties both historically and linguistically.
For Cajun French, the problem sets include items on Cajun inflectional morphology and that of English words used by Cajun speakers while codeswitching. The
theme of the interaction of inflectional morphology and codeswitching is carried
through in the problem set on Louisiana Creole.
The users of this book might notice that linguists seem to know much less
about most of the language varieties discussed in the chapters than we know
about Standard English, but that should not be discouraging. We linguists, as scientists of language, are excited about learning more about the unknown and
helping others to understand what we have discovered. We hope that students
using this volume will come to share that excitement and some day help all of us
to understand their own language varieties better, whether or not we were able to
represent them in this small collection.


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