The Department of Linguistics is pleased to announce a dissertation oral presentation:
The Other California: Marginalization and Variation in Trinity County
Friday, May 30, 2014, 8am-9:15am
Margaret Jacks Hall, Rm 126
Little is known about English in the American West, especially in the region’s vast rural areas. And while popular stereotypes of the Sunshine State focus on easy living in California’s urban centers—San Francisco and Los Angeles—much of California is, in fact, both poor and sparsely populated. My dissertation is an ethnographic analysis of language variation in that Other California.
Trinity County is about the size of Vermont, but it is home to less than 14,000 people. And as Trinity County is far more rural than San Francisco County, rurality is recursive within the county, too. The well-funded county seat of Weaverville (pop. 3,600) is growing more bourgeois, while the next biggest town, Hayfork (pop. 2,386), is more dominated by survivalists than ever—largely due to the bourgeoning marijuana industry that’s taken root there.
As urban and (sub)urban lifestyles are in competition in the county today, so are rural- and urban-associated linguistic features. Southern- and Midlands- derived features, likely (re)introduced to California during the Dust Bowl migration, co-exist with urban California features in Trinity County today. I show that the pin-penmerger (a feature canonically associated with the South) and lessened participation in the Northern California Vowel Shift (previously documented in larger cities) are more common in Hayfork. These features are also more common in the speech of Trinitarians’ with more outdoorsy, survivalist lifestyles—no matter where they live. Taken together, these analyses unpack what it means to be Country in California.
Oral exam committee: Penny Eckert and John Rickford (Co-advisors), Rob Podesva, Tom Wasow
University oral exam chair: Ray McDermott (Education)