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Prof. H. M. Ayres, Columbia University.
Prof. Frank R. Blake, Johns Hopkins University.
Prof. Leonard Bloomfield, University of Chicago.
Prof. W. F. Bryan, Northwestern University.
Mr. P. W. Carhart, Springfield, Mass.
Prof. C. H. Carruthers, McGill University, Montreal, Canada.
Prof. R. P. Dougherty, Yale University.
Prof. Joseph Dunn, Catholic University.
Dr. Stefán Einarsson, Johns Hopkins University.
Mr. Harvey Fletcher, New York City.
Mr. Mortimer Graves, American Council of Learned Societies.
Prof. Miles L. Hanley, University of Wisconsin.
Prof. Clark Hopkins, Yale University.
Prof. A. V. W. Jackson, Columbia University.
Prof. Jess H. Jackson, University of Texas.
Prof. T. Atkinson Jenkins, University of Chicago.
Prof. Dorothy J. Kaucher, Wells College.
Prof. R. G. Kent, University of Pennsylvania.
Prof. John S. Kenyon, Hiram College.
Dr. J. F. Knott, Springfield, Mass.
Prof. G. P. Krapp, Columbia University.
Prof. Hans Kurath, Ohio State University.
Mr. Waldo G. Leland, Permanent Secretary, American Council of
Prof. H. B. Richardson, Yale University.
Prof. E. C. Roedder, College of the City of New York.
Prof. R. E. Saleski, Bethany College.
Mr. J. C. Steinberg, New York City.
Prof. George M. Stephenson, University of Minnesota.
Prof. Rudolph Willard, Yale University.
Prof. Karl Young, Yale University.
THE FIRST SESSION OF THE CONFERENCE was held in Harkness Recitation Hall of Yale University, at 8.00 o'clock on the evening of Friday, August 2. This session was open to the public, and two addresses were presented, abstracts of which are here given, with a summary of the discussion.
The Effect of Movements of Population upon American Dialects,
The student of American history is compelled to admit, albeit reluctantly, that although there have been no family quarrels, there has been little or no cooperation. Perhaps the linguists and the historians are equally guilty. This fact is all the more remarkable and regrettable, because the scholars of both disciplines have had the opportunity of observing processes in America that must have taken place in countries whose civilizations are hoary with age. Not that these developments have ceased in older countries; but within recent epochs society in America has been continually beginning over again. The frontiersman leveled the forest, and the frontier leveled class distinctions. . . . In a community where birth, titles, traditions, and education counted for little, social intercourse was reduced to simple terms. .
Can the student of American dialect profit by an intensive study of the immigrant stocks in the United States? Would such a study sustain the thesis that language is a revelation of the spirit of nationality? . .
At the time of the outbreak of the Revolution the American people already showed that complexity so striking in the country today. Many persons in the colonies were not of English stock; the melting pot had already begun to stew, especially in the so-called West. During the eighteenth century particularly, many Germans, Scotch-Irish, and Irish came. . . The sparse population and poverty of the West
deprived the frontiersmen of the guidance of pastors, teachers, and the more cultivated leaders of an older society, and this may in part account for the loose language of the West that grates on the Easterner to this day. . .
Marietta, the first New England settlement in the Northwest Territory, was founded on the Ohio River in 1788, and within seventy-five years every state and territory that had been carved out of the vast domain extending from the Alleghenies to the Rockies had developed those characteristics that have persisted down to our own time. There were congregations of Quakers, Congregationalists, Mennonites, Lutherans, Catholics, Campbellites, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Baptists, Methodists, and Mormons, to make no mention of other sects; and there were settlements of New Englanders, New Yorkers, Pennsylvanians, Southerners, English, Irish, Welsh, Scotch, Germans, Dutch, Norwegians, Swedes, Canadians, French, and Poles; and today the descendants of these people, whether residents of Ohio or of Kansas, not only understand each other but can converse without difficulty with tourists from Massachusetts and Virginia....
The New England of the present presents an aspect that her proudest sons never dreamed of in 1850, namely, that of a foreign element of alarming proportions and of a character quite different from that of the immigrants from Northern and Western Europe. This phenomenon is so recent that the foreigners are socially quite apart from the native population. These 'new immigrants' were planted in a stratified society. .
The South was settled by a people recruited from a somewhat different element, socially and religiously, in the mother country. The 'peculiar institution' of slavery evolved a stratified colonial and antebellum society, with a local government adapted to large scale agriculture, without a network of railways comparable to that of the free states, without great mobility of population, and with a reverence for birth and titles. The county was the social and political unit. . . . The political control of the South was vested in an oligarchy of families, powerful not through wealth, but by virtue of birth, education, and training, which set them apart from the rest of the population. The democracy of the South was not so fearfully jealous of the superior man as the West, partly, if not largely, because there was a wider gulf between the planters and the poor whites, who did not arrive at the state of self-consciousness until toward the end of the nineteenth century.
Families in the same community intermarried and the succeeding generation lived in much the same way as those that went before. . . Do these factors suggest the explanation why the South is the richest portion of the country from a dialectal point of view?
The Germans can perhaps best be studied in Wisconsin. . . . The Germans who settled in Wisconsin before the Civil War were almost universally literate and on the whole better educated than the Swedes. In the schools of a Yankee neighborhood the children of German immigrants in many cases could not be distinguished by their manner of speech from the Yankee children; but in the communities where the Germans predominated, the grandchildren continue to have trouble with the th sound. . . . The Wisconsin Domesday Book, that bold, original, and well-conceived experiment of the State Historical Society, has prepared the soil in a most unusual way for the student of dialect.
The preparation of a Dialect Atlas must be fraught with difficulties to which the historian is oblivious. It may be that the political history of counties will shed some light. For instance, mapping votes in presidential elections with the county as the unit reveals a persistency in certain counties to vote the Democratic ticket through thick and thin, as in Illinois where the southern tier of counties was settled by Jacksonian Democrates who migrated from the South. Whether a political map, showing Whig, Free Soil, Know Nothing, Granger, and Populist areas, superimposed on a dialect map, would reveal anything of value, is an interesting speculation. Fortunately there are maps showing the distribution of population, which should be of some assistance in getting work on a dialect atlas under way.
Discussion of Professor Stephenson's paper:
RUSSELL: To the foreign language groups may be added the Spanish group in the Southwest, which, since it was there even before the Pilgrims landed, may have had a greater influence on American English than later arrivals. Also the French group in Louisiana might be mentioned.
KURATH: How much definite information is available regarding the history of the population, for example, of Virginia, or of Ohio? STEPHENSON: There is no dearth of material. For the older states a great mass of secondary material exists, and everywhere there are census and parish records.
KURATH: To what extent have historians digested such records; and county histories?
STEPHENSON: County histories are in general too inaccurate to be used, except critically and with other material as a check. The Wisconsin records have been so sifted.
KRAPP: In New England and the South practically no definite information exists regarding the history of the population up to 1800. It would be a tremendous task to get together the sources of information, as nothing of the sort has been done. Orbeck made a start in several communities of New England. It should not be attempted in connection with the Speech Atlas.
ROEDDER: There is a close relation between history and linguistic geography. In Wisconsin, the various sections were settled from different parts of Germany and from Switzerland. In Green county, settled by Swiss, the oldest generation spoke unadulterated old Bernese; a sort of koiné is used by the second generation; the third generation use a more literary form of German, and the youngest generation speak almost entirely English. The exact provenience of the various groups must be considered, as Low German would have a different effect on English from that exercised by High German. KURATH: How many historians are actively interested in the history of population? Is there any history of population which gives definite figures rather than the usual generalities regarding the provenience of the population? Is there any work of this sort in progress? It would be of great help to the linguists in choosing representative communities for the study of dialect. STEPHENSON: No comprehensive study has been made. There are histories of some stocks. The more recent works have bibliographies, through which one could reach approximations, and no more can be hoped for.
KNOTT: This paper is a challenge to directors of graduate students' research. Minute studies of single communities would be valuable. It is important to study three generations of speakers in any given community.
PAULLIN: There are the following sources of information as to population in the Southern States: (1) County histories for about one-third of the counties; these are scrappy, never more than fair; (2) histories of cities, somewhat better; (3) the Federal Census, useful for family names; (4) foreign archives.