Dialect or Deficit?

Richards, Melinda; Alfred, Suellen
April 2006
International Journal of the Humanities;Apr2006, Vol. 3 Issue 8, p61
Academic Journal
This presentation is on the Southern Appalachian dialect and its implications for teaching storytelling and literature in the classroom. Dr Richards will discuss her research with three-generation families in Del Rio, Tennessee. She will show that Appalachian English, until recently considered resistant to change because of the relative isolation of its speakers, is becoming a moribund dialect. Her research shows cross-generational differences in vowel pronunciation and style-shifting. Dr Alfred will present personal stories she has gleaned from students and their families in East Tennessee and Western North Carolina, showing how teachers can use similar approaches to encourage their students to bring personal stories from their language communities to class. She will play a story told by Ray Hicks whose Beech Mountain, North Carolina dialect is in danger of dying with him. She will show how Hicks' dialect and stories can be used in the classroom as a way of encouraging young dialect speakers to take pride in their language community. Both Richards and Alfred will also include audience participation in a humorous Appalachian vocabulary activity in which they will be given a "non-standardized" test of Appalachian phrases to see how well they do with this charming relic dialect. Members of the audience will be given a list of Southern Appalachian titles that would be appropriate for the high school classroom. Such titles will include but not be limited to such works as Ray Hicks' ‘Jack Tales’, Outer Dark, Robert Morgan's Gap Creek, poems by Jeff Daniel Marion, and the Foxfire series. Both professors expect that this session will be an appealing blend of scholarship and pedagogy on this dialect, an archaic form of Ulster Scots.


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