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Saturday, October 12 • 2:05pm - 2:30pm
Benheim: Regional features and the Jewish ethnolinguistic repertoire in Chicago

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Regional features and the Jewish ethnolinguistic repertoire in Chicago

The Jewish American ethnolinguistic repertoire (Benor 2011) has been shown to include the use of New York City (NYC) regional features, even by speakers who live elsewhere (Knack 1991; Sacknovitz 2007). Less is known about how indexical links between NYC features and Jewish identity interface with the social meanings of regional features common to the communities outside of NYC in which Jewish speakers live. This study explores how Jewish Chicagoans’ vocalic systems integrate NYC- and Chicago-linked TRAP, LOT, and THOUGHT vowel productions. Evidence from production (wordlist) and perception (phoneme categorization) tasks reveal quantitative differences between Jewish and Catholic speakers’ LOT productions, and Orthodox vs. other Jewish listeners’ LOT perceptions. I argue that these differences are guided by LOT-fronting’s social meaning in Chicago more generally, and that the use of a given element from the ethnolinguistic repertoire can be influenced by that element’s pre-existing social meaning in a particular community.


Jaime Benheim

Northwestern University

Saturday October 12, 2019 2:05pm - 2:30pm PDT
EMU Cedar & Spruce
  T: Ethnolects
  • Session type Talk
  • Chair: Shelome Gooden