Thursday, October 02, 2008

Wishin', hopin', singin', 'n' prayin'

Ms. Palin, may I comment on your speech patterns? It's not really Ok to drop every final "G":

Today, nearly all English speakers drop g's sometimes, but in a given speech community, the proportion varies systematically depending on formality, social class, sex, and other variables as well.

For instance, in a 1969 study done in New York City, Bill Labov found that in casual conversation, g-dropping varied with social class as follows:

Lower class Working class Lower middle class Upper middle class
Percentage of g-dropping 80% 49% 32% 5%

In other words, as class status "rises," percentage of g-dropping falls.

However, formality also matters: members of a given social stratum drop g's more often in less formal speech. Thus for the lower class members:

Casual speech Careful speech Reading
Percentage of g-dropping 80 53 22
I'm just sayin'.

Oh, and Dusty (& Martha & The Vandellas):