MISREPRESENTING THE AMERIC AN SOUTH cynthia bernstein, University of Memphis In the video American Tongues (1986), Molly Ivins offers a scathing critique of the portrayal in American movies of the slow-speaking, slow-witted Southerner. This stereotype is perpetuated in ï¬lm, television, literature, and popular print media by inaccuracies in the representation of Southern dialect. Fictional Southern characters produce regionally marked features more often and in more varied contexts than do their real-life counterparts. One example is the misrepresentation of yall as occurring in singular contexts.1 Butters and Aycock (1987) quote an example from the 1934 movie Twentieth Century in which characters who portray actors rehearsing a play about the South make frequent use of you-all to refer to only one person. In mimicking a Southerner, one character says, âGood-by, sir; thank you-all for your hospitality, sir. Come down and have a julip [sic] with we-all sometime, sir.â Such mimicry creates an inaccurate sense of Southern dialect and reinforces the negative Southern stereotype.2 Combinations of all have been attested to with plural pronouns we and they, in addition to you, and with interrogative pronouns what, who, and why. Extending usage to the ï¬rst-person singular combines with other exaggerated dialect features
American Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage – Duke University Press
Published: Dec 1, 2000
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