Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Postvocalic /r/ in New Orleans: Language, place and commodification

Schoux Casey, Christina (2013) Postvocalic /r/ in New Orleans: Language, place and commodification. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (2MB) | Preview


From silva dimes to po-boys, r-lessness has long been a conspicuous feature of all dialects of New Orleans English. This dissertation presents a quantitative and qualitative description of current rates of r-lessness in the city. 71 speakers from 21 neighborhoods were interviewed. R-pronunciation was elicited in four contexts: interview chat, Katrina narratives, a reading passage and a word list. R-lessness was found in 39% of possible instances. Older speakers pronounce /-r/ less than younger speakers, and those with a high school education or less pronounce /-r/ far less than those with post-secondary education. Race and gender did not prove to be significant predictors of r-pronunciation. In contrast to past studies, many speakers in the current study discuss their metalinguistic awareness of /-r/ and their partial control of /-r/ variation, discussing switching between r-fulness and r-lessness in different contexts.
In New Orleans, this metalinguistic awareness is attributable in part to the devastation following Hurricane Katrina in 2005, when the near-disappearance of the city intensified an already extant nostalgia for local culture, including ways of speaking. Nostalgia and amplification by advertisers and popular media have helped recontextualize r-lessness as a variable associated with a number of social meanings, including localness and authenticity. These processes help transform r-lessness, for many speakers, from a routine feature of talk to a floating cultural variable, serving as a semiotic resource on which speakers can draw on to perform localness.
This dissertation both closes a gap in research on New Orleans speech and uses New Orleans as a case study to suggest that the social meanings of linguistic features are created and maintained in part by a constellation of interrelated social processes of late modernity. Further, I argue that individual speakers are increasingly agentively engaged with these larger processes, as part of a global transformation from more traditional, place-bound populations to more deracinated individuals who choose to align themselves with particular communities and local cultural forms, particularly those that have been commodified.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Schoux Casey,
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairKiesling, Scott F.Kiesling@pitt.eduKIESLING
Committee MemberJohnstone,
Committee MemberEble,
Committee MemberGodley, Amandaagodley@pitt.eduAGODLEY
Committee MemberMauk, Claudecemauk@pitt.eduCEMAUK
Date: 17 October 2013
Date Type: Publication
Defense Date: 12 April 2013
Approval Date: 17 October 2013
Submission Date: 12 August 2013
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Number of Pages: 196
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Linguistics
Degree: PhD - Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Doctoral Dissertation
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: Postvocalic /r/, New Orleans, sociolinguistic variation, place, commodification, nostalgia, mediation
Date Deposited: 17 Oct 2013 16:49
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 14:14


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item