Does the way you pronounce certain vowels reveal your political attitudes?
If you find the varying speech patterns among Americans of different locales and social strata as fascinating as I do, you’re going to enjoy THIS ARTICLE by Julie Sedivy about how dialects sometimes parallel political attitudes:
It may seem surprising, but in this age where geographic mobility and instant communication have increased our exposure to people outside of our neighborhoods or towns, American regional dialects are pulling further apart from each other, rather than moving closer together. And renowned linguist William Labov thinks there’s a connection between political and linguistic segregation.
In the final volume of his seminal book series “Principles of Linguistic Change,” Labov spends a great deal of time discussing a riveting linguistic change that’s occurring in the northern region of the U.S. clustering around the Great Lakes. This dialect region is called the Inland North, and runs from just west of Albany to Milwaukee, loops down to St. Louis, and traces a line to the south of Chicago, Toledo, and Cleveland.
Are we moving toward an era where Americans will speak discernibly red versus blue accents? It’s hard to say. Social identities are complex, and can be defined along a number of different dimensions like class, race, or ethnicity. Not everyone feels that politics are a part of their core identity. But I suspect that political ideology may become an anchor for accents to the extent that large social groups collectively identify themselves by their political beliefs. According to Bill Bishop, author of “The Big Sort,” this is happening more and more as Americans voluntarily cluster themselves into homogenous, politically like-minded communities.
NOTE: The illustration above is a map of American dialect regions as defined by the Atlas of North American English.