Social network cohesion and the retreat from Southern vowels in Raleigh

Robin Dodsworth, Richard A. Benton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Network research in sociolinguistics suggests that integration in a local community network promotes speakers' retention of local linguistic variants in the context of pressure from external or standard dialects. In most sociolinguistic network research, a speaker is assigned a single score along an index representing the aggregate of several network and other social features. We propose that contemporary network methods in adjacent disciplines can profitably apply to sociolinguistics, thereby facilitating not only more generalizable quantitative analysis but also new questions about the relational nature of linguistic variables. Two network analysis methods-cohesive blocking and Quadratic Assignment Procedure regression-A re used to evaluate the social network factors shaping the retreat from the Southern Vowel Shift (SVS) in Raleigh, North Carolina. The data come from a 160-speaker subset of a conversational corpus. Significant network effects indicate that network proximity to Raleigh's urban core promotes retention of SVS features, and that network similarity between speakers corresponds to linguistic similarity. Contemporary social-network methods can contribute to linguistic analysis by providing a holistic picture of the community's structure. (Networks, sociophonetics, Southern Vowel Shift, dialect contact).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)371-405
Number of pages35
JournalLanguage in Society
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 1 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Social network cohesion and the retreat from Southern vowels in Raleigh'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this