"Honest to Goodness American Speech": Early Linguistics and the Myth of the Midwest Radio English
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The WSU Humanities Center invites faculty, students, staff, and the community to a Brown Bag talk given by Carly Overfelt (Program Coordinator in the Office for Teaching and Learning) on the topic of "Honest to Goodness American Speech": Early Linguistics and the Myth of the Midwest Radio English.
Abstract: Where did “Standard American English” come from? A myth circulates that the invention of radio caused producers to look for the most “neutral” American English for their radio hosts, and that the Midwestern accent was chosen because it is inherently clear and easy for all listeners to understand. Thus, the myth goes, Midwestern English was broadcast and became the norm all over the country. In fact, sociolinguists and linguistic anthropologists have long traced the constructed and ideological nature of “standard English.” This presentation explores a sample of early and midtwentieth-century research articles, opinion pieces, pronunciation guides, and other primary sources to illustrate the fraught emergence of “Midwestern English."
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