A discourse analysis of expository Appalachian English


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A discourse analysis of expository Appalachian English
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viii, 182 leaves : map ; 28 cm.
Montgomery, Michael, 1950-
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English language -- Dialects -- Tennessee -- White Pine   ( lcsh )
English language -- Discourse analysis   ( lcsh )
bibliography   ( marcgt )
theses   ( marcgt )
non-fiction   ( marcgt )


Thesis--University of Florida.
Includes bibliographical references (leaves 172-181).
Statement of Responsibility:
by Michael Bryant Montgomery.
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General Note:

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University of Florida
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Copyright 1979

Michael Bryant Montgomery


For their assistance to me throughout my graduate studies and

especially in undertaking the fieldwork for this dissertation I am

indebted to my parents. In many ways this dissertation would have

been impossible without them, and to them I dedicate it.

The fieldwork for this dissertation could not have been carried

out without the gracious assistance of my contact persons in White

Pine, the Atchleys-Earl, Emogene, Steve, and Philip-who enabled

me to make the necessary contacts with and to establish a rapport

with my informants. To them I will always be grateful.

I also wish to thank the people of White Pine for their hospital-

ity. Their open-hearted welcome and open invitations to return will

long be appreciated.

To the chairman of my committee, Professor William J. Sullivan, I

am thankful for patient direction and many invaluable suggestions.

To the other members of my committee, Professors Jean Casagrande,

Robert Thomson, Roger Thompson, and Norman Markel, I am grateful for

patient tolerance of an erratic and hurried submission of my work.

My colleagues at the Department of English at the University of

Arkansas at Little Rock deserve thanks for their encouragements to

finish this work this past year.

Finally I wish to thank Professor Robert Longacre of the Summer

Institute of Linguistics for his invaluable personal advice to me.


ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................ ....... .... iii

ABSTRACT . .. vi


General Remarks ................... .... 1
The White Pine Setting ................... 4
The Economic Life of White Pine ... 15
The Religious Life of White Pine .. 17
The Southern Appalachian Region .... 20
The Study of Appalachian Speech .... 33
Fieldwork Procedures ..................... 38
The Sample ................... .... 50
Transcription Procedure ... 53
Fieldwork Journal and Interview Catalog .. 56
Explanation to Informants .. 57
Taping of the Interviews ... 58
The Value of Fieldwork .... 58
Notes .......... .... .............. 60


Preface . .. 61
Discourse Studies and the Approach of This Study. ...... 62
The Study of Monologue Expositions .. 72
Oral Paragraph and a Review of Paragraph Studies. .. 74
Longacre's Typology of Discourse Genres .. 84
Notes . 88


Introduction ......................... 89
Left Dislocation ................... .... 96
The Variety of Forms .................. 97
Specifications ................... .. 104
Functions . .. 109
Relationship to Subsequent Discourse .. 117
Existential Sentences as Thematic Devices .. 124


General Remarks ....................... 131
Left Dislocation with Deictics ... 136
Extrapositions with Deictics. ... 137

Identifying Clauses with Deictics. .. 139
Peak Sentences ................... .. 143





BIBLIOGRAPHY ....... ............ ....... 172


Abstract of Dissertation Presented to the Graduate Council of
the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the
Requirements for the Degree of Doctor of Philosophy



Michael Bryant Montgomery

August 1979

Chairman: William J. Sullivan III
Major Department: Linguistics

This dissertation contributes to the fields of discourse anal-

ysis and Southern Appalachian studies by describing the discourse

functions of several linguistic structures from a large sample of

spontaneous expository (explanatory and descriptive) discourses for

a cross-section of informants from a small East Tennessee hill commu-

nity. The community, White Pine, is a typical Southern Appalachian


Five different contexts are taken into consideration for the

examined linguistic structures: 1) Speaker Type (a representative sam-

ple of forty informants was interviewed); 2) Frequency of Occurrence

(data are quantified when possible); 3) Social Situation (researcher

assumed one role with his informants); 4) Task (a standard interview

was controlled to elicit only expository discourse); and 5) Linguis-

tic (the sentence and discourse position of all data was considered).

This study is based on the premise that speech is hierarchical

as well as linear in structure, that it has, in other words, struc-

tural units larger than the sentence. It hypothesizes in particular

that speech has paragraph structure. If this first hypothesis is

true, oral paragraphs should be describable to some degree of pre-

cision and generality.

Paragraphs may be viewed as having phonological, lexemic, and

grammatical structure. This study examines their grammatical struc-

ture and makes a second hypothesis: that the grammatical structure

of oral expository paragraphs is organized by certain surface struc-

ture cohesive devices. It investigates this hypothesis by considering

the functions) and distribution of the following devices:

1) Introducers of themes into the stream of discourse. Such

introducers include left dislocation (as in "My mother, she's a great

cook"), existentials (as "There's a man here to see you"), it-clefts

(as "It was my brother who called") and WH-clefts (as "What I did was

to completely strike out").

2) Deictics (pointing words such as "that" and "this"), both

cataphoric (forward-pointing) and anaphoric (backward-pointing).

Structures examined are that-extraposition (as "That is good that John

finally left"), identifying sentences (as "That's what I meant"), and

peak sentences (as "That's the best thing is to leave early").

3) Introducers and conjunctions ("and," "but," "now," "then,"

"like," and others) when they accompany left dislocation and assist

in introducing themes.

All structures are examined with the view of identifying what is

typical about them, which is why they are quantified numerically when-

ever possible. This is to insure that the data are not chance findings

of random observation.

It was found that spontaneous expository monologues contain super-

sentential units that are thematically unified and that various surface

structure cohesive devices play significant roles in creating such

unity for the benefit of a hearer. These units are shown to be oral




General Comments

This dissertation describes the discourse functions of several

linguistic structures from a large sample of spontaneous expository

discourses for a cross-section of informants from a small East Ten-

nessee hill community. The community, White Pine, is viewed as ty-

pically Southern Appalachian. This dissertation thus contributes to

both discourse analysis and Southern Appalachian studies.

This study is based on a set of forty interviews conducted by the

researcher between December 1977 and February 1978 and averaging

slightly more than an hour each in length (forty-five hours total).

The interviews consisted of a small core of questions and were de-

signed to elicit large amounts of expository (explanatory and descrip-

tive) discourse from the informants in the form of spontaneous mono-

logues. Subsequently the interviews were transcribed orthographically

and constitute a 1,070 page typed corpus from which data in this dis-

sertation are taken.

Language, as a social instrument, consists of a set of systematiz-

able patterns of social behavior. These patterns, although presumed

to be repetitive and systematizable on all levels, have been largely

ignored for English at levels above that of the sentence. The

essential claim of this dissertation is that oral discourse structure

must be considered primary to written discourse, a principle which

has long been axiomatic for other levels of linguistic description

(Bloomfield 1933:21ff.). In studying oral discourse linguists have

heretofore dealt with highly formularized types (folktales and other

narratives) in English and not with spontaneous expository discourse.

This study is based on the premise that speech is hierarchical

as well as linear in structure, that it has, in other words, struc-

tural units larger than the sentence and that it has structures whose

domains extend to groups of sentences. Further it leads to the

hypothesis that speech (expository in this case) has describable

paragraph structure.

Oral paragraphs may be viewed as having three different kinds

of structure: phonological, grammatical, and lexemic (Klammer 1971).

This study examines their grammatical structure and its second hypoth-

esis is that the grammatical structure of oral expository paragraphs

is organized by certain surface structure cohesive devices (as des-

cribed by Longacre and Levinsohn 1978). It investigates this hypoth-

esis by examining the functions) and distribution of the following


1) Introducers of themes into the stream of discourse. Such

introducers include left dislocation (as in "My mother, she's a

great cook"), existentials (as "There's a man here to see you"), it-

clefts (as "It was my brother who called") and WH-clefts (as "What I

did was to completely strike out").

2) Deictics (pointing words such as "that" and "this"), both

cataphoric (forward-pointing) and anaphoric (backward-pointing).

Structures examined are that-exptraposition (as "That is good that

John finally left"), identifying sentences (as "That's what I meant"),

and peak sentences (as "That's the best thing is to leave early").

3) Introducers and conjunctions ("and," "but," "now," "then,"
"like," and others) when they accompany left dislocation and assist

in introducing themes.

All devices are examined with the view of identifying their

typical functions) and distribution within greater discourse block

structures. Hence they are quantified numerically whenever possible.

This is to insure that the data are not chance findings of random

observation. Also to insure the nature of the data gathered, five

different parameters are controlled in this study:

1) The speaker context (a representative sample of forty infor-

mants was interviewed);

2) The frequency context (data are quantified whenever possible);

3) Social context (a matter of controlling the speech style

elicited; the fieldworker-researcher assumed one role with all infor-


4) Task control (interview was controlled to elicit only explana-

tions and descriptions from informants);

5) Linguistic context (the sentence and discourse position of
all data was taken into account).

For the most part (except the fourth and, in part, the fifth),
these have been controlled in the studies of Labov. Labov

(1966, 1972) has controlled the first two by adopting random sampling

techniques and quantitative analysis of his data. He has controlled

the third by deliberately eliciting several different speech styles

(four in his New York City investigations). And he has taken into ac-

count the sentence context of data by devising the variable rule (Labov

1969). The present study, however, controls both the task context and

the discourse position context. Recent studies in the ethnography of

communication approach take the task and discourse position into ac-

count but tend to ignore the others.

This study, in investigating a selection of surface structure co-

hesive devices, found that they were to a significant extent used by

speakers to communicate thematically unified blocks of information to

hearers and that they reflected the grammatical structure of para-

graphs. This confirms the hypothesis that oral expository speech

(Southern Appalachian in particular) has describable paragraph and

discourse structure.

The White Pine Setting
The small East Tennessee hill town of White Pine (White PIne to

its inhabitants), in which the interviews for this dissertation were

conducted, is no longer the rural village it was only a little more

than a generation ago, and no longer is farming the principal occupa-

tion of its residents. Today the town of White Pine is primarily res-

idential, a "bedroom" community (in 1970, eight times as many of its

people derived their livelihoods from manufacturing as from farming),

and a majority of its citizens are supported by employment in facto-

ries which located in the surrounding area after the Second World War

because of the labor surplus and the low taxes. The factories re-

tarded the emigration so disastrously prevalent throughout East Ten-

nessee as well as other areas of Southern Appalachia in the past two

generations and attracted workers from the foothill and mountain areas

farther east, so that White-Pine's population has continued to grow

steadily since the war (from 1,035 in 1950 to 1,530 in 1970 to 1,622

in 1975 to-unofficially-1,830 in 1977). It remains, however, a

cozy, closeknit (many would say "clannish") community despite the in-

flux of new residents in recent years. Never has it needed more than

one stoplight, and its mayor still dutifully accepts his annual one

hundred fifty dollar check for his thirty hour a week job.

In this study, "White Pine" designates the White Pine community,

consisting of the town and adjacent neighborhoods and having a popula-

tion of approximately 3,000 persons. It is the White Pine community

wherein the forty interviews for this study were conducted.

White Pine (refer to the map on page 6) lies at the extreme

northeastern corner of Jefferson County, forty miles east northeast

of Knoxville and within view of the Great Smoky Mountains. Seven

miles north on Highway 25E is Morristown (population 30,000+) and

five miles south is Cocke County (infamous for its rumrunning in the

20's and sometimes called the "Moonshining Capital of the World" dur-

ing that era). East of White Pine are its sister and erstwhile rival,

but incorporated, community Leadvale and the Nolichucky River; south

and west is Douglas Lake, a Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir.




0 6


Figure 1.1 Jefferson County, Tennessee
(Source: East Tennessee Development District)

Jefferson County (1960 population 21,493, 1970 population 24,940)

lies in the ridge and valley section of the Great Valley of East Ten-

nessee between the Cumberland Plateau and the Blue Ridge. Today it is

sandwiched between the TVA reservoirs, Cherokee Lake (the dammed Hol-

ston River) and Douglas Lake (the dammed French Broad River) built in

the 1930's. The county is one of the earliest settled areas of what

was to become the state of Tennessee. The Holston, which formed the

county's northern border, brought settlers in from the northeast,

from upper East Tennessee and from Virginia (through the Shenandoah

Valley), while the French Broad, which largely determined Jefferson

County's southern extent and which flows west from Asheville after

flowing north, routed newcomers from the east into the area. Many of

these had received dispensations of land for Revolutionary services.

The county's first white residents arrived in 1783, thirteen years

before Tennessee became a state. The county seat, Dandridge, was

incorporated in 1793.

Settlement in the White Pine vicinity goes back nearly two hun-

dred years, as shown by the fact that two of its present-day churches,

Westminister Presbyterian and Beth Car Methodist, were first organized

in 1787. Although the town of White Pine was not incorporated and

named until 1893, it achieved the status of a community and the char-

acter of a town (and was called "Dandridge Crossing") when a railroad

stop and a post office were established there shortly after the Civil War.

A number of today's White Pine residents can trace back their ancestries

many generations in White Pine itself; some are descendants of the

original settlers in the area.

The rolling terrain of the White Pine area is better than average

farm and pasture land, with corn, tobacco, and wheat being the staple

crops. Although not in the mountains itself, White Pine lies in the

center of the region referred to as Southern Appalachia and is in many

respects a typical small town of the region. Although it is sometimes

supposed that all Appalachian communities are socially and culturally

homogeneous, only the extremely isolated areas actually are. There-

fore White Pine is perhaps more typical of Southern Appalachia because

it is neither homogeneous nor isolated.

To the outsider, White Pine seems a slow-paced and unassuming

small town, all of whose residents know one another. It seems to be a

town with few pretentions. On a not atypical day one can get a good

flavor of the town's personality by visiting the town's center of ac-

tivity and one of its chief public forums, the drugstore at Main and

Maple, where the mayor, the chief of police, one or two city aldermen,

the town's physician, and a local minister hobnob over coffee.

Such an appearance would be rather deceptive, for in recent years

White Pine has entered a period of great transition socially and eco-

nomically. It has also considerably changed in the way it views it-

self (the near doubling of the town's population since 1960 through

annexation and immigration would suggest this anyway). Life has be-

come more complex for its residents as the changes have come. For

such a long time White Pine resisted change of any kind that many of

its citizens feel that the current pace of change in housing, in the

economic pressures on the town, and in the arrival of new people de-

manding more from the town than it can offer is accelerating out of

control. Not too many years ago White Pine residents did pretty much

know everyone else in town, but with new residents recently moving in

faster than ever, they feel uneasy and sense a lack of cohesiveness

they once took for granted. Many of the longtime residents have a

strong sense of the symbiosis of the community, of how everyone plays

a part in supporting the general welfare. A typical expression of

this was made by a thirty nine year old female:

It's a feeling of closeness and connentuity [sic]. If I could
draw you a picture, I would draw you a big ball of people all
wrapped up together, like worms. You know, like you're fishing
with worms, and all those worms are intertwined. That's the
way this town is.

For many, though, this sense of closeness and symbiosis is inseparable

from the "traditional" way of doing things, so that change is threat-


Probably the most important event in the past fifty years for

White Pine and East Tennessee is the arrival of TVA. For White Pine,

the coming of TVA has in a sense been responsible for most of the

changes during the past forty-five years (TVA began in 1933, and the

construction of Douglas Dam near White Pine began shortly thereafter).

TVA's initial effect was to dislocate many farmers in Jefferson County

from good bottom land and to resettle them, which was the cause of some

resentment. Today few people in the county regret the changes TVA made

possible. As one sixty-year-old farmer who witnessed the relocation

of the thirties put it,

...the landowners were against it. They didn't want uh, they
didn't want to move out....Of course, we realize now that TVA
is our, our main uh source of energy and power and so, I don't
know what we'd do without it.

TVA, through its water management and its provision of electricity, set

the stage for the ensuing economic development of the area, for the

profitability of agriculture, and especially for the coming of indus-

try. Since the war several dozen major factories have relocated to

East Tennessee.

Until after the Second World War and the locating of the facto-

ries White Pine was very much an isolated farming community. Its

sphere of interest hardly extended beyond its boundaries. A half dozen

stores provided the necessities and there was little pressure to de-

velop the town residentially, commercially, or industrially. The sen-

timent was to keep the town as quiet as possible and to keep any con-

scious development out. This is how the state of affairs in White Pine

remained, too, until only a few years ago. Eventually the preoccupa-

tion with prohibiting development was buffeted by demands for more

housing, for recreational facilities, and for planning in general, so

the town has had to undergo considerable growing pains in meeting these

demands. These pains will persist for a long time because the pres-

sures, primarily from the younger generation, will continue.

The most profound development in White Pine over the past thirty

years has been its evolution into a "bedroom" or almost strictly

residential community. Until a generation ago, most people in White

Pine grew up on the farm, but with the coming of industry came rising

economic expectations and consequently a revolution of rising demands

for private residential housing. These demands have partially been met

by the parceling up of farmland into lots and a mobile home park, but

as another generation has grown up, it has become acutely obvious that

the town especially lacks social activities.

In White Pine the principal social institutions are the churches

(ten in the community), and more than likely any social get-together or

meeting will be church-sponsored. Although there are several organized

civic groups (Ruritans, Lions, Beta Sigma Phi) in town, there is little

regular social activity. The occasional special event (church revival,

political candidate speech) may attract a group of citizens, and the

annual Pine Festival is an event that meets some of the social needs of

the town.

The Pine Festival, sponsored by the local Beta Sigma Phi and begun

in 1967, is a one-day collection of shows, contests, and displays held

on July 4 each year. The festival has become the focal event of the

community's life because it is the one occasion when a majority of its

people take part. The festival integrates the community and gives it

a greater sense of self-identity than it has ever had because it is hea-

vily patronized by people from surrounding counties and communities.

Although there is tremendous socioeconomic disparity between the

very rich and the very poor in the community, one finds little overt

residential segregation by economic status. As the thirty-nine-year-

old female quoted earlier put it,

...there are very, very wealthy people in this town, and there
are very, very poor people in this town. But to save my life,
I can't tell you what the difference is. I mean I can't point
to one person and say "Okay, this is a poor person and this is
a wealthy person." They, they blend.

This sentiment evidences the symbiosis referred to earlier.

One major division in the community is that between the middle

and older generations on the one hand and a large part of the younger

generation on the other. This division is a product of the rising ex-

pectations of the town referred to above. In general the community is

more optimistic about its future than a generation ago because of im-

proved local education. A comprehensive high school has been added and

a junior college has been opened five miles up the road. A more diver-

sified job market has also developed. But most youths with professional

and career aspirations still see inadequate prospects in the nearby

area. Many of them, once they leave White Pine, are embarrassed to be

from the town. Often White Pine is for them a place to escape, a place

that can and does trap its ambitious youth. One twenty-nine-year-old

male characterized the town's subtle pressures not to aspire:

...most of the people prior to uh the sixties, when I got out,
they, they were settled. The idea was to, when you got out of
that high school was to get married, cause marriage was stabi-
lization. You got married, you had children right then, as
quick as you could, because that made stay at home. You didn't
carouse. You didn't go on. You weren't apt to, to leave the
area and get involved in things that way.

This desire to escape is usually tempered by an attachment to the

familiar surroundings and personality of the town, though, so that some

of its college-educated citizens settle in town despite its lack of

opportunities. One twenty-five-year-old male college senior puts it

this way:

It's hard to say, you know, when the settling down comes, you
know, when, when I might settle down. I might settle down next
year, you know, or else it might be five more years from now,
maybe longer. But I like to think that I'd come back to this
town, you know. I, I think right now that it's still a fairly
good town, want to plant your roots.

Others choose to remain in the town because of a feeling of belonging

to the community, because they value the cohesiveness (although not as

tight as it once was) of White Pine and live without many of the ameni-

ties of larger communities.

As indicated earlier, White Pine is an underdeveloped community.

Thw town itself, in contrast with the surrounding area, has virtually

no industry and relatively few commercial outlets. It has no motel, no

entertainment outlet, and no restaurant. It has none of these things

by design and promises to resist them in the near future, content to

maintain its "bedroom" status. Although it is not accurate to call the

town entirely unprogressive, one finds that even the young and college-

educated members of the community sometimes have reservations about the

town's growth and expansion. The college senior quoted above says,

regarding "progress,"

progress is on its way. It's on its way, you know, but for
some reason I can't but feel a kind of remorse, you know, ..
it's a reaction that I really do feel sad sometimes and regret and,

and feel that progress is not, is not as good maybe as a lot of
people think it is. It has its disadvantages as well as its ad-
vantages, you know.

The effect of White Pine's resistance to growth and its sense of

community is that it is very slow to accept new residents, which causes

the outsider to view its people as clannish. With the accelerating im-

migration into White Pine, however, of people with a diversity of back-

grounds, the residents have had to learn to assimilate new neighbors

more quickly. The minister of the town's largest Baptist church moved

to White Pine from Kentucky in 1969. He describes the community's re-

ception of new people as follows:

I think the people in White Pine are very slow to accept you
within the community. They're very friendly, but a distant
friendliness. Uh they keep you at a distance, not only when
you move, but throughout your stay in White Pine to some de-
gree. Uh I find the people in White Pine very, very friendly
outwardly, but uh not across the board as in some communities.
They tend to stay within family groups or little cliques of
three or four families. There seems to be no broad base of,
of acceptance,...

This reluctance to accept newcomers manifests two salient traits-tra-

ditionalism and individualism-long considered characteristic of South-

ern Appalachian culture, as pointed out by Ford (1962:11). Later in

this chapter we examine four basic traits discussed by Ford and see how

they aptly characterize White Pine as an Appalachian community. But

first we survey the economic and religious sides of White Pine's life

and then put this study into the perspective of others on Appalachian


The Economic Life of White Pine

White Pine has made significant economic strides in the past two

decades and has undergone a thorough economic transformation in the

past generation, but it remains in many important ways undeveloped.

The percentage of its population below the poverty line (19.4) is well

above the national average (approximately 12). Most of its citizens

must look beyond the city limits for their livelihoods.

Fortunately the surrounding ten mile radius of White Pine has been

able to provide considerable employment opportunities for the last

three decades. This employment has not only stemmed but also largely

reversed the serious problem of emigration of the labor force which

plagued East Tennessee and White Pine in the 30's, 40's, and 50's, al-

though it was not quite as severe as elsewhere in Appalachia, espe-

cially in the coal mining regions of Kentucky and West Virginia. This

reversal has largely been accomplished through the benefits accruing

from the development of TVA. In the 1940's, Jefferson County's emigra-

tion rate surpassed ten percent of its eligible adult work force, and

in the 1950's it was almost as high. But in the 1960's, immigrants

began to outnumber emigrants and the migration patterns underwent a

dramatic turnaround. In the 1970's, the county and especially White

Pine have seen a significant infusion of new residents and a decrease

in emigration. Employment prospects for incoming members of the job

market, although still limited, are better than twenty or thirty years


The dislocations brought about by the emigration over the years

have left their marks, though. White Pine has lost much of its Black

population (only 1.7 percent of its 1970 population was Black), and

many families have been split because the children have had to mi-

grate north to find jobs. This need to leave home for employment

was aggravated for many natives of East Tennessee and Southern Appa-

lachia by their inability to adjust to the urban North and their fond

attachment to home in the hills. Instances of their choosing to return

to certain unemployment or underemployment in the hills have been

frequently documented, as by Hicks (1976:29-30). This is perhaps not

so common in White Pine as in other areas in the region. A similar

attachment to native ground continues today; relatively few graduating

high school students and other new members of the labor force wish to

settle down elsewhere.

Almost entirely responsible for the improved economic profile for

Jefferson County and White Pine has been the tremendous growth of

local factories, especially those of the American Enka Corporation and

several major furniture firms. Attracting such industry to the area

have been the labor surplus, various tax incentives, and the availa-

bility of cheap electricity. By 1970, more than half (51 percent) of

White Pine's employed population was in manufacturing, eight times as

many as in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries combined (6.3 percent).

In the same year, trade, service, and finance supported another 23.1

percent of White Pine. Construction employed 9.1 percent, mining 0.4

percent, and all other types of employment, 10.0 percent. The move-

ment of workers into manufacturing has entailed the dissolution of the

tenant farming system and the development of more specialized agri-

culture in the area.

This is not to say that farming is no longer a major concern to

most of the people of White Pine. It is. It must be remembered that

most of its citizens are a generation or less off the farm- many of

them still religiously tend kitchen gardens of an acre or two. But

few citizens must still depend on it as their primary source of income.

The new sources of income, the factory payroll primarily, have

brought in their wake profound changes in White Pine (above p. 10).

The better income is more dependable than one might derive from farm-

ing. It has caused White Pine to become a bedroom community. At the

same time, the improved standard of living has raised the optimism of

White Pine's citizens for their future and especially for the future of

their children. For those wishing to break the cycle of having to go

to work immediately after leaving public school, there are more oppor-

tunities than ever before. Within the past decade a junior college has

opened only five miles away, and many of White Pine's youth have de-

cided to undertake some college work rather than enter the job market

right away. The area's economy, although still not providing suffi-

cient skilled positions, continues healthy at the same time that White

Pine, a self-sufficient community a generation ago, finds itself more

and more dependent on the surrounding area.

The Religious Life of White Pine

The community of White Pine lies in the region often referred to

as the "Bible Belt," so called because much of its population still

adheres to fundamentalist beliefs in the Bible and because of the role

of its clergy as both "preachers of the Word" and as community spokes-

men commanding political and social influence. The community of White

Pine is typical of the region. Not only are the churches by far the

most prominent institutions in the community, but also religious values

permeate so thoroughly every aspect of its life that it is simply quite

impossible to deal meaningfully with most aspects of the community's

existence without taking them into consideration.

Churches have long been numerous in Appalachia. A 1935 report of

the United States Department of Agriculture reported there were in 1926

as many as 3.25 churches for each 1,000 inhabitants. It might be

thought that such a high ratio would be accounted for by the fact that

few people could motor to church fifty years ago. But the present-day

ratio in White Pine is the same: ten churches for its approximately

3,000 inhabitants (3.3 per 1,000 people). Church membership, if not

necessarily participation in church activities, is almost required for

a White Pine citizen. Perhaps as much as eighty percent of the popula-

tion in the community are church members.

The two largest churches in White Pine, one a Southern Baptist and

the other a Missionary Baptist, have approximately one thousand members

between them, and the other eight are by no means all small congrega-

tions. Besides five Baptist churches (of several different affilia-

tions), there are two Methodist, two Pentecostal, and one Presbyterian

church. There is not a single non-Protestant church in the entire


Throughout all of the churches one finds a firm fundamentalism

(Puritanical in kind for most churches). One finds also a strong com-

mitment to evangelistic activity and to the need for the individual to

undergo a conversion experience and for the congregation to support

missionary activities and frequent week-long revivals.

All the White Pine inhabitants refer to each one of the ten min-

isters in the community as "Preacher" regardless of an inhabitant's own

church affiliation. Undoubtedly this reflects the fact that until a

generation ago, local churches usually did not have their own ministers.

Rather, they shared a minister with one or more churches outside the

community (the days of the "circuit riders"). It also seems to reflect

the present-day notion that preaching the Word of God is the most impor-

tant duty a minister has. The epithet thus continues even though cler-

gymen have adopted all the everyday duties of the profession (counsel-

ing, visitation, etc.) in recent years. Preachers are also invested

with a great deal of moral authority in the community. They can wield

considerable political influence as well, if they choose, on many is-

sues of local import such as the granting of beer permits or of permits

for businesses to open on Sunday. These are quite important issues in

White Pine.

One finds little evidence of sectarianism in White Pine. There

seems little difference between the Baptists, the Methodists, and the

Presbyterians in either their theology or in their way of conducting

business. Indeed, they coexist quite harmoniously. One's church af-

filiation is viewed generally as dependent on the affiliation of one's

parents or one's spouse, not on one's personal convictions.

The foregoing does not strictly hold for the Pentecostals, who do

consider themselves to an extent to be a people apart. The extremes

of Pentecostalism in Southern Appalachia have long been pointed out

(as in La Barre's study (1964) on the snake-handling cult). One can

find congregations of "snake handlers" not more than twenty miles east

of White Pine in Cocke County. But people in the area overwhelmingly

view such practices as quite objectionable and offensive.

The primary functions of the church itself are to provide relig-

ious services and training for its members, yet in a community where

such a large percentage of the inhabitants are members, churches inevi-

tably offer more than the fulfillment of spiritual needs. Churches in

White Pine provide most of the organized social activities. Scheduled

weekend activities are relatively infrequent in White Pine, but any

given activity is more than likely a church-related one. Since 1975,

when the county's high schools were consolidated, the only organized

youth activities in White Pine are those that are church-sponsored.

In short, then, the influence of the organized religion in White

Pine is pervasive. The churches are viewed as having an indispensable

and rightful place in the life of the community and in the life of the


The Southern Appalachian Region
Alghough the Appalachian Mountains extend thirteen hundred miles

from Vermont to Alabama, the region usually called "Appalachia" and

viewed as sharing certain distinctive cultural characteristics and

social and economic conditions encompasses the southern half of the

mountain range and includes as its core a sliver of North Georgia, the

eastern thirds of Tennessee and Kentucky, the western thirds of

Virginia and North Carolina, and the entire state of West Virginia.

This is in addition to a variety of fringe sections, depending upon

which demarcation of the region one chooses. Perhaps the most exten-

sive demarcation is the political one made by the Appalachian Regional

Commission. The Commission defines Appalachia by county, based on

economic conditions. Their "Appalachia" includes parts of Alabama,

Mississippi, South Carolina, Ohio, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New

York, in addition to the core area mentioned above.

Gastil, whose regions are determined by sociocultural features,

considers the core area outlined above and a small corner of South

Carolina to be the "Mountain" area of the South (Gastil 1975:174ff).

Vance (1962) views the "Southern Appalachians" as a distinctive region

sharing agricultural and economic conditions, which covers parts of

West Virginia, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, South Carolina,

Georgia, and Alabama. The demarcation of the "Southern Highland" re-

gion by John C. Campbell (see map on the following page), a lifelong

student of the region, comprises the core area of portions of six states

and also the fringes of three others, a 112,000 square mile territory.

For Campbell, this area exhibits similar economic, educational, and re4-

igious characteristics. What is important for us is that, whatever the

delimitation of Southern Appalachia, the community of White Pine has always

Figure 1.2 Campbell's Southern Highland Region
(Source: Campbell 1921:xxxviii)

been considered in its heart. Further reason for designating White

Pine as an "Appalachian" community is presented below.

The linguistic analogue of Southern Appalachia is the South Mid-

land area (Kurath 1949, Kurath and McDavid 1961), which encompasses

the mountain districts and also most of Tennessee and considerable por-

tions of Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia. This area, determined by a

combination of lexical, phonological, and morphological isoglosses, has

been traditionally viewed as more closely related linguistically to the

North Midland area (Pennsylvania and parts of Maryland, Delaware, and

New Jersey) than to the South.

The question of the relative affinity of linguistic and other

traits in Southern Appalachia (or the South Midland) to regions north

and south is still very much unanswered, in fact, but it will not overly

concern us here. In a provocative reassessment of the linguistic dis-

tinctiveness of the area, Bailey (1968) concludes there is no "Midland"

area at all which has a core of distinctive features and that North Mid-

land should be retermed 'Lower Northern' while South Midland be redesig-

nated 'Outer Southern.' Gastil views the cultural affinities as

lying closer to the South: "Culturally the mountains are an extreme

version of the Upland [South]" (1975:194).

All this is not to say, of course, that even the most restricted
definition of Southern Appalachia implies that it is socially homogene-

ous or that its people have a common background because they now may

share certain cultural or linguistic features or even a common outlook

on life. Yet commentators on the area, both native and non-native,

infer that its inhabitants are alike in ancestry and cultural back-

ground, especially on the basis of a number of linguistic relics

apparently distinctive of its people. The most extreme forms of such

inferences issue an assertions that Appalachian people are "Elizabe-

than" or that they preserve the "purest Anglo-Saxon blood in the United

States" or that they are "almost pure Scotch-Irish" (note the contra-

diction here). These inferences have formed a part of the chronic

misconceptions about the inhabitants of Southern Appalachia.

Even such a serious commentator as Campbell has abetted such

inferences by his statement that Southern Appalachian people form "a

definite racial group" (1921:xiv), although he conceived of

their having developed into such a distinct group of people by virtue

of "their common interests, hardships, and struggles" (p. 71) and not

by virtue of their lineal descent from one stock of Old World people.

His lengthy study of the surnames of early mountain settlers revealed

almost equal proportions of Scotch-Irish and English names, and a

large number of Germans as well:

Without a doubt the Scotch-Irish and English elements are the
strongest in the mountain population, though the Highland
people are not different from the Lowland Southerners in this
respect. The Scotch-Irish strain is strongest in some mountain
sections, the English in others; and in some communities may be
surmised an influence of German ancestry. (p. 71)

Several other groups, most especially the French Huguenots, were numer-

ous among the early settlers in Appalachia too. Thus the region's

present-day descendants are a hybrid, whencever came their language (a

handful of its features have indeed been shown to be carryovers from

Northern England and Scotland) or its musical or other traditions.

For a variety of unscientific and often impressionistic reasons,

however, the people of Southern Appalachia are reputed to be quite dif-

ferent from all other Americans. If they do not descend "directly from

the Scotch-Irish," there is a quaintness in their approach to life, it

is said, harking back to an earlier era, or their speech has a quality

and character indisputably unique. Not only does Appalachian speech

preserve various relics, that is, but it also has a distinctive quality

in a more general sense. The literature on the subject abounds in de-

scriptions of how mountain folk talk, more often than not written by

college-educated children remembering fondly earlier days in the hills.

Here are three representative descriptions:

There are certain peculiarities of enunciation which it might be
well to speak of here. For the Smoky Mountaineer the nose is as
much an organ of speech as the larynx. This is particularly no-
ticeable in old people, and may be because of the catarrh
brought on by constant exposure and diseased tonsils. The moun-
taineer drawls to an alarming extent, even more so than his
neighbors of the plantations. His voice is utterly without ca-
dence, almost a droning monotone. On the other hand, it has a
deep, resonant quality which catarrh and embarrassment never
wholly obliterate. (Walker 1939:3-4)

The mountaineer has clung to the Shakespearean word these many
years because he has not learned the modern word. Indeed, he
has had little contact with those who speak the modern word; and
since his surroundings and habits and thoughts have been largely
the same as they were in Shakespeare's day, he has had no need
for new or changed speech. (Coleman 1936:30)

As a race, the people of our southern mountains speak softly.
Even their most commonplace remarks somehow are made to sound
secret, and of greatest importance. The women especially speak
softly, their voices often plaintively sweet, pitched in a
minor key and lifting upward, so that the last word of every
sentence is almost sung. (Hannum 1969:29)

The contention in these excerpts is that the speech of Southern Appa-

lachian people has a marked flavor and character all its own, beyond

the presence of archaic expressions and words therein. Commentators

have long been at pains to account for this on the basis of one extra-

linguistic factor or another (isolation, pace of life, etc.). Cratis

Williams, lifelong resident of the mountains, attributes in part the

distinctiveness of the way people in the region speak to "the highland-

er's habit of thrusting his chin forward rigidly when he speaks."

(1961:10) Brewer and Brandes try to explain why Southern Appalachian

English impresses outsiders as so different by describing the kinesics

of its speakers, detailing the posture and the eye and body contact of

the typical speaker in the region.

Almost all the studies and comments on the speech of Southern Ap-

palachia have had the unfortunate effect, however, of lumping the en-

tire region together linguistically and assuming that it is homogeneous

within itself as well as distinct from other regions of the country.

To this date, very little attention has been devoted to regional lin-

guistic variation within Appalachia. Only the two linguistic atlas

projects, the Linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States

and the Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States, have given significant

consideration to such variation. This presumption of underlying uni-

formity has been espoused frequently, as in Carpenter (1933). He con-

tends that the only "variation in the vernacular of the southern and

central Appalachians has been due to the difference in the degree of

isolation of the various sections" (p. 22). Most writers ignore the

subject of geographical variation entirely. This creates the impres-

sion that there is none. No attention was given until very recently

to variation by age, socioeconomic background, or any other variable.

This presumption of little, if any, variation is directly at odds

with the view of Southern Appalachian speakers themselves. They be-

lieve that Southern Appalachia has much subregional variation. Speak-

ers in the region as a rule (and White Pine exemplifies this well) con-

tend that they speak differently from neighboring communities only a

few miles down the road or one or two hills over, although it is diffi-

cult to tell what differences they have in mind. These subjective

views have occasionally been supported by statements in the linguistic

literature, as by Berrey: "the dialect may vary slightly with the lo-

cality, and even from family to family" (1940:46) Or by Walker: "It

must be realized that the speech of the mountaineer varies from one

district to another" (1939:6). Wolfram and Christian, in commenting

on vowel variation in southern West Virginia, state that "there are

apparent vowel differences from region to region within Appalachia.

Even within the restricted locale we have studied here, there is evi-

dence that several different vowel systems must be recognized"


To what extent the term "Appalachian English" refers to a deter-
minable linguistic entity is then unsettled. On the one hand, some

commentators and Appalachian people recognize an almost hollow-to-hol-

low and community-to-community variation. On the other, such long-

time students of American English as Mencken (1963) and Wise (1957)

consider the dialect of the Southern Appalachian area distinct and

identifiable. One reasonable approach to the issue of whether the

term "Appalachian English" should be used is that of Wolfram, who

adopts the term and applies it to a "unique combination of linguistic

characteristics rather than structures as such" (Wolfram 1977:

97). For him, Appalachian English refers to a common denominator of

non-unique features which are still subject to variation for any given

district within Appalachia or for subgroups within such a district.

Since this study is designated as one on "Appalachian" speech,

this must now be justified and explained. This study does not inves-

tigate linguistic features dealt with systematically in earlier studies

on the speech of the Southern Appalachian region or of the speech of

any other variety of American English. It thus lacks the comparability

of evidence required to distinguish the speech of White Pine as "Appa-

lachian" solely on the basis of linguistic criteria, although nearly

all the features-phonological, lexical, and grammatical-usually

termed "Appalachian," as by Brewer and Brandes (1977), are found in

the speech of White Pine inhabitants. Nor does it adopt the design-

ation solely on the basis of White Pine's geographical location. If

it did, "East Tennessee" would have been used. Rather, the speech of

the inhabitants of White Pine is called "Appalachian" because the

community is, ethnographically speaking, an Appalachian community, on

the basis of several of those salient characteristics which have long

been associated with Southern Appalachia-individualism and self-

reliance, traditionalism, fatalism, and fundamentalist religion

(Ford 1962:llff.).

Throughout the literature on Southern Appalachia runs the view

that its people and culture are distinctive in at least a broad sense.

Most commentators on the region point out that a combination of such

traits as "fierce" individualism and mistrustfulness of all strangers,

among others, characterize the Southern Appalachian native and make him/

herdifferent from other Americans. White Pine is more of a valley than

a mountain community, and such characterizations have been more accu-

rate of the isolated communities in the region than of the urban and

valley sections of Southern Appalachia. This has sometimes been recog-

nized, as by John C. Campbell, who lived and taught in the region for a

quarter century. Campbell was concerned that some of his statements in

his The Southern Highlander and His Homeland would not be understood as

"applicable to the remote rural folk who were the particular object of

his study [and] were not true of their urban and valley kinsfolk"

(1921:xiv). But such characterizations, while sometimes extreme,

rarely claim that Southern Appalachia is culturally or socially homoge-

neous. White Pine itself is certainly neither. Yet several broad cul-

tural traits have for so long been pointed out as typical of Southern

Appalachian people that it is worthwhile to determine if they are ap-

plicable to White Pine and can enable us better to understand it as a

Southern Appalachian community. We will ocnsider the four traits or

themes mentioned above that Ford chose to examine by conducting a

region-wide survey of Southern Appalachia. Ford found these traits to

be significantly apposite to both urban and metropolitan communities,

although less so than to rural communities.

Ford surveyed nearly 1,500 homes in a region closely coterminous

with Campbell's Southern Highland region (page 22 above) in three dif-

ferent kinds of community-rural, urban, and metropolitan-with a

questionnaire devised to indicate the strength of four prominent

traits-individualism and self-reliance, traditionalism, fatalism, and

fundamentalist religion. It was hypothesized that, because of the eco-

nomic and social changes which had taken place after the Second World

War, a disparity between rural and non-rural manifestation of these

traits would be found. Although he did find some disparity, his results

show that the four traits he chose form a common denominator for Southern

Appalachia in general. Ford outlines his choice of traits in this man-


In examining the web of mountain life, one finds these themes
intertwined and generally, though not always, mutually support-
ing. Most so-called "mountain traits" are to be found in one
form or another throughout the nation, particularly in rural
areas. At the same time, each of them has its antithesis in
contemporary industrial society. The self-reliant individual-
ist, at least as an "ideal type," stands at the far end of the
scale from the much berated "organization man." Traditionalism,
not only in the sense of clinging to an earlier heritage but
also in the exaltation of resistance to social change, is viewed
as both anachronistic and vaguely immoral by a larger society
that values progress through rational, scientific endeavor.
Even more reprehensible to a culture that stresses achievement,
self-betterment, and mastery over nature is a passive resigna-
tion to one's situation in life, particularly if it is a situa-
tion viewed as both undesirable and remediable. Less subject to
censure by the larger society, perhaps, but contrasting as
sharply with its dominant values-and not immune from ridicule-
is the rigid, pervasive religious ethos of the [Southern Appala-
chian] Region. (p. 11)

Commentators on Southern Appalachia have long characterized its

people as individualistic, self-reliant, and non-social. Campbell

devotes an entire chapter (1921:90-122) to analyzing their individualism

and views their self-reliance as a result of their extreme isolation.

Horace Kephart, who lived in western North Carolina the first two dec-

ades of this century, characterizes the people as having "fiery indi-

vidualism" and as being "non-social" (1922:382-3) and goes on to say

Except as kinsmen or partisans they cannot pull together. Speak
to them of community of interests, try to show them the advan-
tages of cooperation, and you might as well be proffering advice
to the North Star. (p. 383)
More contemporary observers, Weller (1965:29ff.) in West Virginia

and Hicks (1976:39) in western North Carolina, document the same trait

among the sections of the region they observed.

When one looks at White Pine, such comments have a remarkable

applicability. The people are basically non-social, sticking to small

groups, not often unified in acting except in opposition to a proposed

local change, on a special occasion such as Pine Festival Day, or with-

in the small sphere of the kin group. Regarding their inability to

work together, a twenty-nine-year-old male resident of White Pine says

of his fellow citizens

They, they want to know, but they don't want to come out of their
shell long enough to get enough of it to expand. They fear ex-
pansion. This town definitely doesn't, it, one day they'll be
shocked into the fact that Morristown will try to annex them,
and there will be a total bar-, that will be the common bond
that brings them together. They will be, that will be the sup-
portive element would be to stand against some cause.
This does not contradict the statement above (p. 9) about the cohesive-

ness of the community; it means the cohesiveness is passive and residual.

The self-reliance of the region's people has another side to it, as

Ford (p. 13) points out, in their attitude of acceptance toward federal

welfare and assistance programs. Odum remarked over forty years ago that

the people of Southern Appalachia, "reputed to be the most individualis-

tic of all the regions, they cooperate most fully with flew Deal tech-

niques' (1936:97). Notwithstanding scattered initial opposition (primar-

ilyby those whose lands would be claimed by the reservoirs), the people

in the White Pine area and throughout East Tennessee have accepted and

cooperated with TVA's many programs. There was little reluctance to

accept whatever federal assistance was proffered.

The traditionalism and fatalism characterizing Appalachian people
areattributed to their struggle of many generations with the harsh reali-

ties of life in a region with few resources and little available produc-

tive land, according to Ford (1962:16). Weller (1965:33-40) shows how

such themes flow throughout mountain songs, stories, and daily attitudes.

In White Pine it is manifest in the strong and widespread doubts about

the value of change, of progress, and of post-high school education (see

quotes above, pp. 12-3). The twenty-nine-year-old male quoted above

says, regarding the community's residents,

They're...blinded really to what's, what's going on, I think.
They don't see their youth. They don't see, they don't see life
as progressing. They just see it as, as a tolerable state to be
in, and you just tolerate it now and hope for the future, yet you
don't work for it. You don't do anything working hand in hand.

As indicated above (pp. 8-9), recent changes and pressures for more

changes have made life more complex and confusing for many in White Pine.

The traditional way and pace of life in the community have been con-

sidered as something of a birthright. Many other things, such as po-

litical and religious affiliations, are also considered immutable

birthrights. Many wish keenly to pass all this on to the next genera-


Little additional commentary here (see pp. 17-20 above) is needed

to show how applicable is the fourth characteristic trait Ford studied,

fundamentalist religion, to White Pine. The community has no non-fun-

damentalist churches and the great majority of its citizens are church

members. Religious fundamentalism is probably the most powerful and

pervasive force in the community.

With reference, then, to the four characteristic traits Ford claims

to be consistently typical of Southern Appalachian people, it is obvious

that White Pine should be considered a typical community in the region.

The Study of Appalachian Speech
As Wolfram notes, Mencken once pointed out that the speech of the

Southern mountains had been studied more than that of any other region

except New England (Wolfram 1977:92). However, the sum total of lit-

erature on Appalachian English does not actually tell us much about how

people in the region speak. At best, most of the literature is little

more than anecdotal, dealing with a scattering of exotic words and pro-

nunciations, many of which indeed are archaisms. Very few writers have

actually asserted that Shakespearean English is or was spoken in the

mountains. But many have taken extreme pains to indicate usages in Ap-

Appalachian speech corresponding to usages in Spenser, Chaucer, and

especially Shakespeare. This creates the impression that the language

of the mountains is little more than a carryover from a bygone era and

another country. This is especially true when a commentator devotes

little attention to anything but such analogues.

One might go so far as to speak of a "typical" treatment of Appala-

chain speech in the literature. This is represented by Berrey (1940),

Bray (1950), Carpenter (1933), Combs (1916, 1931), Watkins (1949),

West (1966), and many others. The typical treatment contains the


1) A brief description of mountain culture and of the mountaineer

himself, especially mentioning the most salient traits of his

personality and how he has adopted himself to his mountain


2) Discussion of various peculiarities of pronunciation, syntax,

vocabulary, usage, onomastics, and similes and other figures

of speech and expressions, with an effort to compare such with

Old, Middle and Elizabethan English whenever possible.

3) (Optional) A few remarks on how mountain speech is/has been

passing away, despite its expressiveness and color.

Coleman (1936) is a perfect example of this typical treatment. Her
first chapter points out the ancestry of the mountain people, shows how

they developed self-reliance in their isolated habitat, emphasizes the

fierce independence of their character, and shows the low position of

women in mountain society. In her second chapter, she covers a wide

selection of grammatical, lexical, and pronunciation features in

mountain speech from North Georgia, with accompanying citations from

sixteenth-century British literature wherever possible. In chapter

three she bewails the inevitable passing of the mountaineer with the

coming of modern education and technology, which will "wipe away for-

ever our admirable mountaineer with his quaint and delightful manner

and speech" (p. 30).

Even well-known early scholars of the speech of the region are

given to such vague statements as "in general, most vowels may be used

interchangeably. Most vowels may replace 'e,' 'i,' and 'u'" (Combs


But the most fundamental deficiency of almost all studies of

Appalachian speech to date is that they provide absolutely no context

for their data. It is impossible to understand a language fully unless

we have information regarding five different kinds of context for lin-

guistic data:

1) Which part of the speech community uses the formss? (Old or

yound, middle or lower class, rural or urban speakers, etc.)

2) How often is a form used? (Is it categorical or extremely

rare or the predominant usage?)

3) In what kind of social situation is the form used? (i.e., What

style of speech is involved?)

4) What communicative task is a speaker performing when a form

is used?

5) What is the linguistic context of the form? (Where in the sen-

tence and in the discourse does it appear?)

Only when we have answers to all these questions can we establish what

context a form appears in and whether it is typical verbal behavior.

The history of the study of Applachian English has been chiefly a

history of the study of extreme forms, and only rarely is any context

noted for data which are cited. Despite an occasional remark that a

certain form "is still heard" or is "generally" or "frequently" used,

the clear implication of most studies is that all the speakers in the

community under consideration use the forms cited all the time and in

every social situation.

The tendency to deal with the atypical (and hence unrepresenta-

tive) speakers and forms infects even works which are otherwise linguis-

tically sound. This temptation is very strong. Joseph S. Hall's tho-

rough and invaluable study of the phonetics of the speech of the few re-

maining residents of the Great Smoky Mountain National Park was under-

taken, he confesses, because he believes in this speech, which "has so

long been removed from the main currents of American culture, there would

remain vestiges of earlier stages of the growth of the English language"

and which also would not have "the deep impress of the schoolmaster's in-

fluence" (1942:4). Brewer and Brandes (1977) present only the extreme

features of Appalachian English for the benefit of schoolteachers who

will teach in Appalachia.

Two recent sociolinguistic studies, Hackenberg (1972) and Wolfram
and Christian (1975, 1976), take into account the first two contexts

(who uses the form and how often is it used?), but neither controls the


other three in their investigations. Wolfram and Christian's study,

based on interviews made in the mountains of southern West Virginia,

classified their speakers socioeconomically and carried out quantita-

tive analyses of many of the linguistic forms they discuss, thus pro-

viding the speaker and frequency contexts for their data. Yet they

do'not choose to base their work on a representative sample because

they were "primarily concerned with the language variety which might

be considered most divergent from some of the more mainstream varieties

of English" (1976:10). Their work is also written primarily for the *

educational community and one-fifth of their book deals with the educa-

tional implications of dialect diversity.

Hackenberg divides thirty nine residents of Nicholas County, West

Virginia, into four classes on the basis of education level attained and

occupation and quantifies the occurrence of '!non-standard" verb agree-

ment and subject relative pronoun deletion for his four classes. He

thus takes the first two contexts into consideration and even gives some

attention to the fifth context mentioned above, the linguistic context,

for his two linguistic features. The present writer demonstrates else-

where (Montgomery 1977b) that his treatment of the linguistic context is

too simplistic.

A description of speech is ethnographically justifiable only if all

five contexts are controlled and taken into account. Only then can it

be claimed that the behavior described is typical (see the discussion of

the Malinowski/Firth "context of situation" later in this chapter).

This present study has striven to control all five. Thus it makes a

unique contribution to the study of Appalachian English.

This study is based on a representative sample of forty infor-

mants in a Southern Appalachian community of approximately 3,000 per-

sons. It quantifies the linguistic features it examines both in terms

of which speaker used them and in terms of possible occurrence of the

feature (whenever possible). It controls the social situation in which

its data occur (see the discussion of the ethnographic parameters and

the role this fieldworker adopted for himself later in this chapter).

This study controls the task its informants were performing by elicit-

ing only expository (explanatory and descriptive) discourses, and it

controls the linguistic context of its data by considering the sentence

and especially the discourse contexts of data.

Fieldwork Procedures

The fieldwork upon which this dissertation is based was carried

out over a period of about two months, from December 1977 through Feb-

ruary 1978. The fieldworker/researcher spent most of his time in the

community of White Pine during this period. This section details the

process whereby he set up, undertook, and completed his fieldwork. It

also provides the rationale for the type of interview and the ethno-

graphic parameters adopted. Altogether six weeks were devoted to the

actual interviewing, one week (in the field) to preliminary fieldwork,

and a period of several weeks to preparation before he reached the

fieldwork site.

Two steps were taken before the researcher reached the White Pine

site. First, an ethnography of the White Pine and surrounding areas was

prepared. As thorough and as broad an ethnography as possible is in-

dispensable to successful and accurate anthropological and linguistic

fieldwork. It is necessary to explain this point in regard to linguis-

tic research in general and to this project in particular.

Speech is social behavior par excellence. As Hymes indicates, it

is the "nexus between language and social life" (1971:42). We cannot

accurately describe language Cor, as Malinowski would say, meaning)

without reference to its role in society and the setting, participants,

events, acts, norms, etc., which it involves. Speech must be viewed as

permeating and not just overlaying most social behavior; therefore, de-

scription of such behavior must make reference to language and its


No aspect of a culture can accurately be described without explica-

ting its interrelationships with and dependencies on other aspects of

the culture. This has been more or less axiomatic since Malinowski's

ethnographic work among the Trobriand Islanders more than sixty years

ago. Malinowski insisted that a researcher approach a way of life as

a whole, as full of interdependencies, as an integration of life. Only

the application of the most rigorous techniques and standards for the

collection of data of all kinds-material, linguistic, topographical,

personal, ceremonial, among others-could enable the adequate explica-

tion of the "context of situation," to use the term Malinowski (1923:306)

himself coined. All pertinent data must inform an understanding of a

context of situation before a generalization can be made, in other

words. For Malinowski, a context of situation is at the same time

broader and immensely more useful than the concept of a "linguistic

context": "Even as in the reality of spoken or written languages, a

word without 'linguistic context' is a mere figment and stands for

nothing by itself, so in the reality of a spoken living tongue, the

utterance has no meaning except in the 'context of situation'"


In addition to the many kinds of data Malinowski considered useful,

healsoadvocated that a researcher keep two kinds of personal records

which should constitute parts of his field records (Kaberry 1957:78-9):

1) An ethnographic diary of daily activities and observations not-

ing what is the normal and the typical and what is not, the

kind of information that is not elicitable by questions and an-

swers of a community's residents. Malinowski called such infor-

mation the "imponderabilia of actual life." The present re-

searcher kept such a diary while in the field, a diary which

also recorded the accounts of his successes and failures and

mistakes in the field.

2) A "corpus inscriptionum," which "entailed the recording in the

native language of narratives, opinions, typical utterances,

myths, folk-lore, magical formulae, and native explanations and

interpretations of customs and beliefs" (Kaberry, p. 79).

Since this researcher collected only one type of discourse (ex-

pository, as defined in chapter two), his forty five hours of

taped explanations and descriptions constitute his "corpus in-


Before returning to the explanation of how an ethnographic sum-

mary of the White Pine community was prepared, let us look more

closely at Malinowski's view of context and explore an instance from

White Pine where we must know the "context of situation" to fully un-

derstand certain linguistic behavior.

As a result of his fieldwork experience, Malinowski formulated the

two concepts "context of culture" and "context of situation," the lat-

ter mentioned above. Both have to do with how meaning is created by

language. A helpful redefinition of these concepts for linguistics has

been provided by J. R. Firth (1957b), one of Malinowski's students, to

express more satisfactorily how language means. According to Firth,

The context of culture is the environment for the total set of
[the options in behavior that are available to the individual
in his existence as social man], while the context of situation
is the environment of any selection that is made from within
them. (Halliday 1974:49)

For Firth, then, the two types of context formulated by Malinowski pre-

sent the distinction between what is potential and what is actual.

Again according to Halliday, "the context of culture defines the poten-

tial, the range of possibilities that are open. The actual choice among

these possibilities takes place within a given context of situation"

(1974:49) Firth's version consequently emphasizes the value of context

of situation for linguistics while at the same time implying that con-

text of culture has little value for the linguist.

The great usefulness of the concept of context of situation, in
Firth's definition, for linguists lies in its stress on the typical

rather than the accidental as an appropriate object of study. Firth's

view also makes the important implication that there is no necessary

one-to-one relationship between an utterance and its meaning. This

implication is most valuable when we examine typical behavior.

The typical behavior (an utterance, in this case) from the White

Pine corpus to be explored briefly here is the expression "I don't

know." At times in the interviews this expression became almost annoy-

ingly frequent. Consider an excerpt from an interview with a thirty-

nine-year-old housewife:

Fieldworker: Why should people be proud of White Pine? What
would you say?
Informant: Well, as a community, I think it's uh, it's a good
community to live in, to raise your children in. Well, I
don't know. The churches, the schools, everything. I think
it's just a, I don't know. I like it. I think it's, that's
why I think it's a good community is because I like it,
(uh-huh, uh-huh) and I don't know.

Of course, it may be that the informant does not know how to artic-

ulate her feelings here, or perhaps she in fact does not know why she

should be proud of White Pine, even though she had just stated, before

the fieldworker's questions, that the residents of the community should

be proud of White Pine. But this can hardly account for there being so

many occurrences in this excerpt of so deceptively short an expression

(three times in about twenty seconds). There are at least three differ-

ent "I don't know's" to be found in the corpus, two of which are exem-

plified here. Although this cannot be as clearly seen from the written

transcript, the researcher clearly identified at least three distinct

meanings for this expression:

1) A hesitation "I don't know" which frequently occurs, as in

our excerpt, with "well." This expression buys a little time

while the speaker decides exactly how to phrase an answer.

2) An ignorance "I don't know," exemplified by the other two in-

stances, which indicates the speaker's recognition of his/her

inability to answer or express him/herself.

3) A reluctance "I don't know" which is most often used as an ini-

tial reply to a question in order to show an informant's imme-

diate reluctance to reveal his/her thoughts on a subject. This

differs from the first "I don't know" above. This "I don't

know" is not a refusal, however; informants almost invariably

went on to give a direct answer after showing initial reluc-


The preparation of the ethnography of White Pine presented above

included the major sources on the Southern Appalachian culture and re-

gion (Kephart 1922, Campbell 1921, Weller 1965, Ford 1962, Vance 1935,

Hicks 1976, and others). It also included major sources on the East

Tennessee area (Folmsbee et al. 1969, Dykeman 1977, and others). Spe-

cial attention was given to the few sources on Jefferson County, Ten-

nessee, available in local East Tennessee libraries. From the East

Tennessee Development District office in Knoxville were obtained sum-

maries of the 1970 census reports and other vital statistics on the

White Pine community. In addition, much useful information was gath-

ered from the informants regarding local affairs.

The second step, taken after the preparation of as much of an eth-
nography as was possible from written sources, was the researcher's

making arrangements with the contact persons in White Pine to spend

an indefinite period of time with them and his explaining what kind

of investigation he would undertake and who he would like to interview.1

A contact person is an invaluable bridge between a fieldworker and a

community. In it a fieldworker is initially a total stranger. He can-

not reside long enough to become a familiar member of the community

(in White Pine or another typical small town in East Tennessee, this

would probably take several years in any case). This researcher's con-

tact persons introduced him to many of his informants and gave him many

insights into the life of the local community.

In White Pine itself, four problems had to be resolved before

actual fieldwork (i.e. interviewing) could begin. First, the field-

worker had to be thoroughly familiar with the layout of the town and

the most important basic facts of daily life in the community. In this

he was primarily assisted by his contact persons. This included learn-

ing the principal activities of the townspeople and the principal social

institutions in the community. He also had to determine the principal

concerns of life for the community. He was able to do this in the

course of the interviews.

Second, he had to establish the ethnographic parameters of his

work. This included his role in the community during his stay and in

the interview situation. Third, he had to choose a location for the

interviews, specifically, where they could be conducted comfortably.

Fourth, he had to determine the type of discourse to elicit and how

to devise a standard interview format which would best elicit it.

The ethnographic parameters were adopted according to Malinowski's

suggestions. He states that a fieldworker should make every attempt to

be an active participant rather than a passive observer-partial partic-

ipant: in the culture he is studying. He draws on his own experience

among the Trobrianders in showing why this is necessary:

There is all the difference between a sporadic plunging into the
company of natives, and being really in contact with them. What
does this latter mean? On the Ethnographer's side, it means
that his life in the village, which at first is a strange, some-
times intensely interesting adventure, soon adopts quite a nat-
ural course very much in harmony with his surroundings. Soon
after I had established myself in Omarakana, I began to take
part, in a way, in the village life, to look forward to the im-
portant or restive events, to take personal interest in the
gossip and the developments of the small village occurrences; to
wake up every morning to a day, presenting itself to me more or
less as it does to the native....As I went on my morning walk
through the village, I could see intimate details of family
life;...I could see the arrangements for the day's work, people
starting on their errands, or groups of men and women busy at
some manufacturing tasks. Quarrels, jokes, family scenes,
events usually trivial, sometimes dramatic, but always signifi-
cant, formed the atmosphere of my daily life, as well as of
theirs. (1922:7)

This researcher, of course, is neither a native nor a resident of

the White Pine area. He was a stranger to his informants initially.

At the same time, he is a native of East Tennessee and especially that

he is a relative of long-time White Pine residents enabled him to estab-

lish immediate rapport with his informants. It was also recognized

that the interview situation would necessarily be an artificial one.

Goldstein defines an "artificial situation" as one in which an informant

provides information "at the instigation of the collector" (1964:82).

The artificial interview situation, however, is, he adds, "the

only natural context for eliciting information from an informant"

(pp. 104-5). In other words, some type of directive elicitation is nec-
essary, however willing the informants are to participate, since they

do not always spontaneously volunteer discourse, especially exposi-

tions. Given these realities, the researcher decided to adopt the

role of a college student collecting general information for a.research

paper from a cross-section of the people in the town, stating that he

was interested in White Pine because he viewed it as a typical East

Tennessee small town. This is similar to the role of historian Gold-

stein advises for folklorists. In this role the researcher states that

he is not interested in official opinions or just in the opinions of

the oldest and/or most respected members of the community, but that

he is seeking instead the ideas and views of a cross-section of the com-

munity's average citizens. He emphasizes that he wants responses from

both native and non-native residents, from old and young, from members

of the whole community, whatever their social standing.

The researcher decided to have the interviews in the informant's

home rather than in the contact persons' home. He also discarded the

idea of interviewing in the informant's place of business or at some

other neutral, public site. Most informants readily invited the re-

searcher into their own homes, and for this reason and others it ap-

peared that informants would be most comfortable there. Moreover, a

fieldworker actually has more control over the interview in the infor-

mant's home. There he has greater discretion over the pacing of the

interview and over signaling the end of the interview and his impending

departure. It is easier to tell an informant that the interview is

over, to pack up the equipment, and to say good-bye than it is to tell

an informant that he/she can go home now. It is also less of an impo-

sition if the fieldworker takes care of his own transportation instead

of asking the informant to arrange his/her own transportation. Fi-

nally, informants appeared more likely to venture information in the

securest andmost familiar environment for them, their own homes.

The fourth thing that the researcher/fieldworker had to determine

before beginning full-scale interviewing was the type(s) of discourse

he would elicit and the interview format to elicit it (them). His ap-

proach was based on the typology of discourse genres (narrative, expo-

sitory, procedural, and hortatory) in Longacre (1976). Given the time

limitations and the ease of devising questions, the researcher decided

to concentrate on expository discourse. A standard set of questions

was asked of all informants, regardless of age, socioeconomic back-

ground, or level of educational attainment. No difficulties were ex-

perienced in elicitation according to this plan.

These limitations also had several advantages. First, using stan-

dard questions gives the study strict controls. Then, expository dis-

course seems to be the most plausible to elicit, given the ethnographic

parameters of this study. Most of the standard questions had to do

with everyday life in the town. Others dealt with situations that were

of widespread and frequent comment about town (such as the reputation

of Jefferson County's neighbor, Cocke County, for violence and

lawlessness). These are safe topics, unlikely to give offense, yet of

universal interest.

Before the interview itself and the sample are discussed, a few

more comments need to be made about how the fieldworker established

rapport with his informants. As Goldstein points out, the fieldworker

should take every opportunity to participate in the daily lives of the

people and the community he is studying. This researcher visited local

churches and various gathering places and meetings, chatting with peo-

ple frequently on the streets and at lunch counters. He continually

emphasized that he was interested in interviewing a cross-section of


The interview itself is a directive one, but it is loose and flex-

ible. It was directive insofar as it required specific vital informa-

tion from informants (age, length of residence in White Pine and else-

where, level of education attained, occupation held, and family back-

ground). The fixed questions asked of all forty informants require

expository responses:

1) How does White Pine react to newcomers in town?

2) What have been the most important changes you have seen in

White Pine while you have lived here?

3) What's a typical day like for you?

4) What do you think most people in White Pine want the town to


5) What all goes on on Pine Day?

6) What do you do on Pine Day?

7) Why does Cocke County have a bad reputation?

8) How do local people feel about outsiders making fun of East

Tennesseans and the way they talk?

In this way, some uniformity in interviews was established.

However, the interviews were not rigid. For example, no infor-

mant was asked only these eight questions. Each informant was asked

additional questions depending on age or background. For instance, in-

formants over fifty who were native of the area were asked how local

people felt when TVA came into the county in the 1930's and bought up

prize farmland to be covered by reservoirs. Similarly, high school age

informants were asked how the new county-wide comprehensive high school

compared to the old high school in White Pine. Other questions were

asked, depending on the flow of the conversation.

One non-directive principle was adhered to throughout theinterview-

ing, however. This concerns the lack of a time limit. Once the field-

worker had asked a question on some subject, the informant was allowed

to give as long a response as desired. The fieldworker took pains nei-

ther to interrupt nor to influence the informant's pattern of thought.

Only when the informant signaled an end to a response or when an infor-

mant's response was clearly running out of steam did he intrude with a

comment or another question.

The interviews averaged slightly more than an hour in length. But

the fieldworker spent at least twice that amount of time with the aver-

age informant, exchanging small talk and establishing a rapport with in-

formants before the actual taping began. The time taken by the field-

worker to introduce himself and to tell about his family was indispen-

sable in establishing the uninhibited rapport that he desired. The in-

terviewer's family was of more concern to the informants than his mo-

tives for interviewing.

In his view, the fieldworker was able to establish quite good rap-

port with each of his informants and excellent rapport with nearly all

of them. This resulted in not only a good corpus but also a number of

good friendships with individuals in White Pine.

The Sample

According to the 1970 United States Census, the population of the

town of White Pine was 1,532. It had grown to an estimated 1,830 by

1977. But the community of White Pine as defined by its residents in-

cludes both the area outside the city limits and the adjacent neighbor-

hood of Leadvale, bringing the total population of the area in which the

interviews were conducted to approximately 3,000 persons in 1978. Of

this base population of 3,000 a sample of forty residents was inter-

viewed. This constitutes 1.3 percent of the whole. The interviews

average roughly one hour each, the shortest being thirty-five minutes

and the longest more than two hours.

The sample of forty informants is both a broad and a representative

cross-section of the White Pine community. The informants represented

all post-adolescent age groups and a wide variety of socioeconomic and

educational backgrounds. In age they range from sixteen to eighty-seven

as distributed among the following cells:

16-19 20-39 40-64 65 and over Total

Male 3 6 5 4 18

Female 3 5 8 6 22

As the sample was taken, care was exercised not to have too many in-

formants from a given age group or from either sex. The fieldworker's

overriding concern, as he spent his time in the White Pine community

and had contact with all sectors of the population, was to interview as

wide a variety of its residents as possible. It was not his primary

goal to investigate social or subgroup differences in discourse organi-

zation among his informants.

The breakdown of the forty informants according to their levels of

education is as follows:2

8th Grade Some High High School Some College College
or Less School Graduate Work Graduate

Female 1 7 5 5 4

Male 3 5 1 6 3

According to the 1970 census, only 6.3 percent of White Pine's popu-

lation depended on agriculture for its livelihood, while 74.1 percent

depended on manufacturing, trade, service, and finance industries.

Approximately 19 percent of the population was employed in construc-

tion and all other areas. Following is a breakdown of the White Pine

sample according to their employment by type of industry. Three who

were unemployed are ignored.

Agriculture Construc- Manufac- Trade, Service, Other
tion turning and Finance

# % #% % # % # %

1970 Census 89 6.3 129 9.1 720 51.0 327 23.1 142 10.0

Study Infor- 3 8.1 3 8.1 6 16.2 21 56.8 4 10.8

If females were not members of the labor force, they were categorized

according to the employment of the breadwinner of their families. The

present study's higher percentage of informants supported by trade, ser-

vice, and finance than the percentage of those depending on manufactur-

ing contrasts with the percentages for the overall White Pine area.

This is due to their availability. There were more people in trade,

service, and finance positions who were available for interviews than

in manufacturing.

Although no census figures are available on the lengths of resi-

dence of White Pine inhabitants, it is clear that the great majority

of them are lifelong natives of White Pine or the nearby area. Of the

forty informants, twenty-two were natives of White Pine and another

thirteen were natives of nearby counties in East Tennessee, nine of whom

had spent more than half their lives in White Pine. Four were natives

of elsewhere in Tennessee or of another state, and one was a native of

Great Britain. Informants were chosen on the bases of their ages and

educational backgrounds and not their nativities. Even so, the cohe-

sive devices analyzed in chapter three through five were examined for

differences in function between natives of White Pine and non-natives.

None but incidental differences in frequency were found.

In the White Pine community, only 1.7 percent of the population

was non-White in 1970; none of the forty informants for this study,

it happens, were non-White.

Transcription Procedures

The approximately forty-five hours of field tape recordings are

the primary documents for this study and are viewed as the ultimate

authority and repository for the data upon which this study is based.

All forty-five hours of interviews were transcribed by the fieldworker/

researcher himself. The transcription was done in slightly modified

orthography in order to result in as close to exact a form as possible

of what the informants said. As Labov (1969, 1972) has shown, careful

transcription is as important in considering grammatical features

as it is for phonological ones.

It must be realized, however, that any transcription can never

be more than an imperfect representation, and an interpretation as well,

of what is on tape. This is certainly true when a transcriber attempts

phonetic or a modified phonetic transcription, and it was true in the

present case when the transcriber had to determine the presence of cer-

tain deletions and especially when he tried to be consistent in punc-

tuating a transcript or in ascertaining sentence boundaries. A tran-

scriber quickly recognizes that deictics and especially conjunctions

mark the beginnings of sentences. But an informant's pausing and pacing

are also crucial to sentence, clause, and phrase boundaries. This

is why the tape recording itself remains the ultimate authority.

The transcription employed here makes no attempt at eye dialect.

Orthography was modified only to indicate several minor instances of

deletion such as

1) The voiced interdental in "them" and "that," if deleted, is re-

placed by an apostrophe (as in "with 'em" or "like 'at");

2) Clause initial "that's" and "it's," often reduced phonetically

to [s] or [s:], and therefore indistinguishable, are represented

frequently as "s";

3) Initial syllable deletion, as for "of course," represented as

"course," and "because," represented as "cause."

In no instances were such conventions used to indicate the deletion of

morphemes. Dealing with deletions in general was frequently difficult.

Basically any apparent morpheme that had a clear trace was represented

in full orthography, In fact, clear hesitation phenomena such as "uh"

and "hmm," the affirming "uh-huh" and the negation "huh-uh" and the like

were represented whenever audible. But the many standard English words

without such a trace (such as copulas, relative pronouns, and others)

were not represented.

Hesitation phenomena (as well as the parenthetical "you know," "I

mean," and other phrases adding nothing to the content of the interview)

are represented in this study's interview transcripts for the sake of

making the transcript as accurate as possible. It is also possible

that such phenomena might have some discourse significance, as markers

of sentences or of paragraphs (i.e. changes or returns to themes). In

any case, possibly significant data should not be discarded a prior.

The use of brackets and parentheses in the interview transcripts

follows the suggestions of Ives (1976). Parentheses serve to enclose

short interviewer remarks (rarely more than the occasional "uh-huh"

or "hmm" which insures an informant that the interviewer is intently

following the informant's account) which did not cut short or deflect

an informant's train of thought. Occasionally parentheses were also

employed to suggest an alternate transcription, when the speech on

the tape was not quite intelligible. Brackets enclose either inter-

viewer comments on the informant's behavior or short summaries of the

interviewer's speech. In the interview excerpt presented below, the

two different uses of parentheses are exemplified.

Fieldworker: In general, what have been the most significant
changes that you've seen in the community of White Pine it-
self during your lifetime?
Informant (74 year-old male): Oh, I guess this, what I remember
as farmland is, has been being and is being covered up with
houses and housing developments and such as that, (uh-huh)
and around the town. Most of those, I remember when, when
that was farmland, the ones out this side of town and well,
that's all around town. And that uh, and that and inflation.
(hmm) Course, we've gone from, as far as uh, as transporta-
tion, we've gone from horses and buggies and mules for to
farm with, and buggies to ride in and, and trains hauled the
produce, to now it's gone to trucks. The trains are, people
ride in cars and, and uh, and produce being hauled in trucks,
right off the farm from there on, from the time it's produced
til (to?) the, the time it's gets to the grocery store. Rail-
road used to use a good many people. That was pretty big bus-
iness. Of course, it hauled lots of people in those days.
That was quite a, quite an event when a train came to
town. .

As mentioned, all the interviews were entirely transcribed by the in-

terviewer himself. Inevitably there are sentences, phrases, and even

words (especially names) that only the interviewer can comprehend by

virtue of his having remembering the context of the interview.

Fieldwork Journal and Interview Catalog

In addition to the primary document, the tapes, and the secondary

document, the transcripts, two other document were assembled in this

project. A fieldwork journal of daily activities and observations was

maintained by the fieldworker. After a day's fieldwork was completed,

a record of the day was entered into the journal. As mentioned earlier

in this chapter, this emulated the ethnographic diary that Malinowski

kept while among the Trobriand Islanders. Not only does such a journal,

maintained daily, allow a fieldworker to profit from his own experi-

ences, his mistakes and his frustrations, but it also enables him to

make note of particularly successful and effective approaches and ques-

tions for his later use.

The other document assembled was the interview catalog, compiled

for the researcher's ease of reference. It contains four kinds of in-


1) The vital statistics on each informant (age, sex, level of edu-

cational attainment, etc.);

2) The physical details of the interview: when and where it was


3) A summary of how the interview itself went, how good the rap-

port between fieldworker and informant was, and how helpful

the informant was;

4) A note on how the informant was contacted.

Explanation to Informants

The members of the White Pine community, when approached by the

fieldworker/researcher as potential informants, were almost invariably

most willing and even flattered to be asked to participate in an inter-

view. While a few of them were initially concerned that they were

being "singled out" to be interviewed for some special reason (the

fieldworker had to assure them that he wanted to interview typical cit-

izens), the fieldworker was actually turned down for an interview only

once (over the telephone, where, he is convinced, he was mistaken for a

salesman). Most informants were more interested in knowing why they

(and White Pine) were chosen than what the fieldworker actually wanted

to interview them for, and that the series of interviews was a part of

his schoolwork was sufficient explanation for most informants to be

quite willing to be interviewed. The usual explanation provided pro-

spective informants was as follows:

For a school assignment I would like to interview a cross-section
of people in White Pine and ask some general questions about
what life is like here. What I want to do is compare the an-
swers I get from a variety of people, both old and young, male
and female. I wondered if you would be willing, if you have
some time, to help me by answering a few questions.

The fieldworker willingly gave whatever additional information was de-

sired-that the interviews were part of his dissertation, that he was

working on his doctorate, or that his project was a linguistic one-

but this was rarely called for.

It should, of course, be pointed out again that the initial rap-
port that the fieldworker was able to establish with informants would

almost certainly not have been so successful without the assistance

of the contact persons in White Pine,

Informants for this study were assured that their names would

not be revealed and that they would remain anonymous to all but the


Taping of the Interviews

The interviews for this study were recorded on a four-track, reel-

to-reel Voice of Music model 733 Tape o Matic tape recorder at 3 3/4

inches per second. The tapes used were Scotch No. 207, 1800 foot

tapes, which, at 3 3/4 inches per second, allowed up to ninety minutes

of recording per track. In all eleven reels of tape were required.

Because of logistical difficulties, two interviews had to be re-

corded on cassette tapes. These interviews are coded as tapes XII and

XIII in Appendix A.

The Value of Fieldwork

Since the ultimate value of doing linguistic fieldwork is to help

us better understand how people employ language, the fieldworker must

always remember that the interview is a very human event involving di-

rect contact between two or more people. As Goldstein declares, "the

problem of fieldwork is essentially human" (1964:22), and more than any-

thing else fieldwork is a venture in human relations. The fieldworker

cannot be detached from his informants, especially when subjects as

deep-felt as some of those covered in the present study's interviews

are involved. Fieldwork is extremely hard and tiring work, but its

rewards in terms of friendships gained justify the effort put in by

the fieldworker.

From this researcher's perspective, at least three skills are re-

quired of the linguistic fieldworker in such a study as this one:

1) The ability and willingness of a fieldworker to relate to his

informants as humans who are willing to share their personal, and some-

times intimate, experiences with him. The fieldworker must value his

informants as people and not as sources of data, which means that it

is probably impossible to do good fieldwork without genuinely enjoying

human contact.

2) A resourcefulness to adapt to new situations and people in ways

that the fieldworker could not have foreseen before going into the

field. The fieldworker must take care and even pains to approach peo-

ple as individuals without preconceptions and prejudices. He should ap-

proach his community as a microcosm having a great variety of unique in-


3) A disposition to persevere against frustrations and inconveni-

ences and ever-present delays. In short, he must be so committed to

doing his fieldwork that he develops a kind of salespitch for it.3 He

must be willing to solicit assistance from often-hesitant and sometimes-

skeptical people while at the same time endeavoring to establish a fa-

vorable rapport with them.

Though the most demanding work he had ever done, this writer found

it immensely rewarding. It gave him many fond memories and several

good friendships which have developed from his interviews.


1. The choices of the community to work in and of the contact persons
were entirely practical ones. This writer's brother-in-law is a
native of White Pine and his brother-in-law's parents are longtime
residents there. It is they who were chosen to be the primary con-
tact persons since they knew nearly everyone in White Pine and could
assist the fieldworker in making the necessary initial contacts.
More important than facilitating contacts, however, was that his
family relationship with the contact persons enabled people in White
Pine to identify him with people they knew well.
2. The category "Some College Work" includes all informants who had any
kind or length of post high school education, such as business or
other vocational school. According to the 1970 census, only 6.8 per-
cent of the residents of the White Pine division of Jefferson County
(figures are not available for the town of White Pine itself) over the
age of 25 had attended some college. However, three factors account
for a high percentage (45 percent) of this study's sample having col-
lege work: 1) the census area (with 2,085 people over 25) includes
rural area whose residents have a lower average educational level
than do the town's residents; 2) in 1970 a junior college opened five
miles from White Pine; it has attracted many part-time students, and
informants having attended as few as one or two courses are classi-
fied as having some college work; and 3) nearly all this study's in-
formants who enrolled in college for a short time dropped out (for
many in this generation, "trying a quarter of college" was the ex-
pected bridge from high school to the workaday world).

3. This same view, that the fieldworker must be willing to be a sales-
man, was expressed to the researcher by Vance Randolph, the dean of
American folklore collectors, in a personal conversation with the
writer on December 11, 1978, in Fayetteville, Arkansas.




The first chapter of this dissertation presents the non-linguistic

context of this study; this chapter discusses its linguistic context.

In the first part of the chapter several approaches to the analysis of

discourse structure are reviewed to put the analysis of oral expository

monologues into perspective. Then the methodology of this dissertation

is explained. The second section examines the importance of studying

monologue expositions. Then some remarks are made regarding the nature

of oral paragraphs, followed by a review of relevant studies of oral

and written paragraph structure. Finally Longacre's typology of dis-

course genres is discussed.

The control of the five different contexts mentioned in chapter

one (speaker type, frequency of occurrence, social situation, task, and

linguistic position) makes this study a novel one. Also, as far as

this writer can determine, this study is the only analysis of the dis-

course structure of oral expositions for any variety of American Eng-

lish. Although much has been written about discourse structure in Eng-

lish, oral expositions have been seriously studied only for other lan-

guages (see especially Longacre 1968). This dissertation represents

the first time that the task of eliciting, analyzing, and then gener-

alizing about a large corpus of expositions has been undertaken for

English. It therefore is an exploratory project.

Discourse Studies and the Approach of This Study

The decision to study the discourse level of oral expositions orig-
inally derived from this writer's growing conviction that the construc-

tion known as left dislocation, an often-used construction in speech,

could only be understood if its function were viewed as supersentential,

on the discourse level (Montgomery 1977a, 1978). If such a frequent but

little studied construction seemed to tell us something about how speak-

ers organize their linguistic behavior, it seemed likely that other fea-

tures and constructions of oral discourse should also be studied in

their discourse contexts. There is much to recommend the view that

oral expositions are preliminary to written ones. At least, understand-

ing how speakers negotiate and structure ongoing expositions might im-

prove our awareness of the communication system that people bring to the

writing process. Since linguists have for two generations made the case

that speech is primary and writing derivative, it seems crucial that a

study should begin with the structure of oral expositions rather than

written ones.

It is no longer necessary to justify the value of doing discourse

analysis, which may be broadly defined as the study of any segment of

verbal behavior larger than the sentence. Grimes (1975), the watershed

work in the field, has shown that discourse analysis is indeed possible

and that it rightly lies within the domain of linguistics (rather than

rhetoric or another field exclusively). Grimes' work is such a vast

cornucopia of observations on discourse that it should no longer be

asked "Is it worthwhile to do discourse analysis?" Rather we should

ask "What kind of discourse analysis will address significant ques-

tions about how people organize their linguistic behavior?" Since

Grimes provides neither a methodology nor a point of departure for a

principled approach to the analysis of expository discourse (but nei-

ther is his aim), we must look elsewhere for an approach to oral expo-


According to Widdowson, discourse analysts have generally taken

one of two basic points of departure. Either they have started with

the text or discourse as a whole or they have begun with sentences or

subsentences in an effort to identify their discourse functionss:

One general approach to discourse analysis, then, begins with
instances of discourse, with actual data, and moves towards lin-
guistic units to the extent that this appears to be necessary
for the purpose of the description. The second approach moves
outwards, as it were, from the sentence, and deals with lin-
guistic expressions as realized in discourse but with the ab-
stract potential of linguistic forms. (1977:241)

The emphasis in the first approach is on the hierarchical nature of

discourse, in the second on the linear nature of discourse. There are

good reasons for choosing either point of departure and in many in-

stances discourse analysts have taken one or the other and elected not

to move toward the other. Propp (1958) and a number of other writers

on folkloristics do not move toward linguistic units at all. Several of

the modern-day text grammarians (Petbfi and Rieser 1976, Van Dijk 1972)

also rely on abstractions from a text for analysis and are primarily

concerned with the abstract and rhetorical structure of discourses.

Text grammarians for the most part view discourse or text as a unit of

competence and not of performance.

Other analysts approaching discourse (e.g. Williams 1964, Halliday

and Hasan 1976) choose to study exclusively the various cohesive re-

sources of English to fit one sentence after another into a context,

to produce acceptable sentence sequences. Williams examines deletion

and a wide variety of elements such as deictics and sentence adverbs.

Halliday and Hasan are concerned with such semantic resources of Eng-

lish as substitution, ellipsis, reference, and conjunction. This lin-

ear approach to discourse is devoted to explicating intersentential


Several discourse studies attempt to bridge the gap between these

two points of departure and to balance the hierarchical and linear ap-

proaches to the study of discourse organization. They have varying re-

levance to the present study, however, since none of them (except, in

part, Longacre 1968) are based on a corpus of spontaneous oral exposi-

tions. Several studies, e.g. Grimes and Glock (1970), Klammer (1971),

Klammer and Compton (1970), and Van Dijk (1977), deal with only the

narrative structure of one or a small sample of texts. The basic point

of many narrative studies is that a discourse view of a text can indeed

make some interesting observations more so than it is to generalize

about a body of texts. In studies of narrative structure we encounter

again and again statements similar to that of Van Dijk: "The remarks

made about a well-known type of discourse, the story, could be extended

for other discourse types" (1977:155). Very few linguists have at-

tempted to do this, however. Longacre, in his Philippine study (1968),

has been the only one to do this. He posits formulae for the gramma-

tical structure of each type of discourse and paragraph. This comment

also applies to his extension of the concept of plot to types of dis-

course other than narratives.

Nearly all discourse analyses have investigated only written or

very highly formularized (i.e. the sermon or the folktale) oral texts.

The discourse features which they consider are not necessarily, even for

expositions, the same as those in spontaneous oral discourses, which we

will be concerned with here. As an example, we can compare Jones (1977)

with the present work. In her study of written expositions, Jones con-

tends that thematizing devices (repetition, marked word order, rhetori-

cal questions, clefting and pseudoclefting, among others) can fruitfully

be studied in written texts. But all the devices she finds are ex-

tremely rare in our White Pine corpus of oral expositions. The sole ex-

ception to this statement is conjunctions, which are of secondary impor-

tance in communicating themes. Moreover, the two most frequently used

thematic constructions from our corpus (left dislocations and existen-

tials) she does not mention. Thematic and other devices should be stud-

ied, but we should not assume that they are identical for written and

oral texts.

Other analysts have suggested other types of devices as crucial to

study in a discourse context: punctuating or transitional devices (Mer-

ritt 1972), various kinds of anaphora (Gutwinski 1976), equivalence

chains (Harris 1963), and those of Halliday and Hasan and of Williams

mentioned above. As valid as it may be to study each of these types,

the necessary heuristic framework for the comprehensive study of co-

hesive devices in discourse is provided only in Longacre and Levin-

sohn (1978). Our approach to the paragraph structure of oral exposi-

tions is largely based on the ideas in this article.

As suggested in their title, "Field Analysis of Discourse," Long-

acre and Levinsohn offer a framework for discourse analysis for lin-

guists working in the field with little-studied languages (such as

those which Summer Institute of Linguistics workers frequently encoun-

ter). What the present writer has chosen to do is to adopt it for

fieldwork with a much-studied language-English. Longacre and Levin-

sohn are determined to bridge the gap between the abstract structure

and the specific cohesive devices of a discourse but insist that the

analyst can do this only by first identifying and describing the "sur-

face structure cohesive devices" and discourse constituents: "The job

of the analyst is to...look through the flesh and the skin to the

skeletal structure beneath and to perceive the fundamental structure

of the whole" (1978:105). The aims of the analyst are to show how

these cohesive devices operate and then to display an outline of the

discourse in a schematic fashion.

Longacre and Levinsohn present eight surface structure cohesive

devices which permit a discourse to be outlined:

1) The role of tense and voice;

2) Particles and affixes;

3) Participant anaphora;

4) Deictics;

5) Lexical ties and paraphrase;

6) Summary and preview;

7) Conjunctions and introducers;

8) Backreference.

Given the time limitations of this study, four of these devices (the

role of tense and voice, particles and affixes, lexical ties and para-

phrase, and backreference) are not considered in this dissertation.

The remaining four (participant anaphora, deictics, summary and pre-

view, and conjunctions and introducers) are the concerns of chapters

three through five herein.

The second hypothesis of this study is that the grammatical struc-

ture of oral expository paragraphs is organized to a significant degree

by certain cohesive devices-the other four discussed by Longacre and

Levinsohn. It investigates this hypothesis by examining the functions)

and distribution of these devices.

The device called "participant anaphora" has to do with the identi-

fication of participants in a discourse: "Participants can be identified

by name, by a common noun, by pronoun, by an affix, or just by zero.

Such variations in anaphora are never unmotivated. Most commonly, the

domain of the participant anaphora chain is the paragraph" (Longacre and

Levinsohn 1978:108). We will here be concerned with only one link in

this chain-the first-(many linguists have studied anaphora: Gutwin-

ski (1976), Brinegar (1977), Hinds (1977) and others) and will call this

first link the "theme." The theme is the piece of information (not

necessarily a human participant) which usually initiates an anaphora

chain and which a block (or paragraph, as we will see) of information

is about. The primary surface structure devices which introduce theme

or "thematize" a piece of information are of two sorts in our corpus:

left dislocations and existentials. In the following exposition we un-

derline two left dislocations and two existentials, all four of which

initiate anaphora chains, to illustrate our approach.1

Fieldworker: What have been the major changes you've seen in
White Pine during your lifetime? Let's say, the most signifi-
cant changes?
Informant: Well, they restructured the bank. I wished they'd uh
left it the old way, but I guess they did that for, you know,
security measures and stuff, and then uh the mall, the mall I
was talking about, the shopping center. You know, they've
paved it all the way through, so that's, that was the major
thing right there that, that they've done. And of course,
the housing project, they put that down there, and I wish they
hadn't have. I like White Pine the way it was, you know.
Well, simpleton little town, you know, but it seems to be ex-
panding quite, quite a bit. (hmm) And there's a lot of
trailer courts going in. There's one right in the center of
town. I don't know how they ever got that admitted. Course,
they have restrictions now, but it was in there before the re-
strictions came, so (uh-huh) and, when I grew up, there, we
had one policeman, and that was Chief of Police Dick Reed, and
he had a deputy, and that was it, and they would drive around,
you know, most of the day, or if you needed him or anything to
around twelve o'clock, and then they'd go home, you know, so
the town was just, just nobody out, you know, or few people
out, but there was no crime, you know, nobody breaking into
anything. (uh-huh) That was just the way it was,... (V2-11)

In this exposition thematic devices introduce four themes (the mall,

the housing project, a lot of trailer courts, and no crime, although

the fourth one is not developed like the others) and at least four

paragraphs in this exposition. Theme is the one obligatory element

of a paragraph's grammatical structure and to a significant extent in

our White Pine expositions a paragraph's theme is marked by one of the

two constructions mentioned. In Longacre's most recent view of the

grammar of the paragraph, he indicates that "we find the paragraph

built around a theme that is not different in kind from a thematic par-

ticipant" (Forthcoming:118). Our chapter three confirms this for expo-


Two other types of devices, deictics and summary, are considered

together in chapter four because deictics are frequently employed to

make summaries in our expositions. In general, deictics (especially

the word "that") help keep track of thematic information in a paragraph.

We will examine four uses of deictics in chapter four: 1) as the prono-

minal reference in left dislocation; 2) in extrapositions; 3) in iden-

tifying sentences; and 4) in what we will term "peak" sentences. An

example of a peak sentence is underlined below:

Fieldworker: What would you say have been the most significant
changes you've seen in the town in your few years here?
Informant: Most significant change I've seen is the, the intru-
sion or the coming in of, of new people. White Pine is no
longer the same town it was eight and a half years ago because
of its growth, uh because of people with different backgrounds
having moved into our town. (uh-huh) Uh therefore it has
changed the complex of our town tremendously. Uh I think this
is the greatest change that has happened in our town is to
have new people coming in with new blood, new thoughts, new
ideas, new approach to things. (X4-4)

We will see that such sentences represent another unit in the grammati-

cal structure of the paragraph-the peak-and we will confirm the view
of Longacre and Levinsohn that, in expository discourse, the peak is

'the culminating explanation" (1978:105).

The concern of chapter five is an eighth type of device-conjunc-

tions and introducers, insofar as they occur in a set of 200 of the

corpus' expositions. A rough taxonomy of the most frequent conjunc-

tions accompanying left dislocation is presented. Finally, some ob-

servations about subparagraphs, especially introduced by "like," are


Longacre and Levinsohn thus elaborate eight types of surface

structure cohesive devices. Our object here is to show that, for one

corpus of English, four of them make complete sense only if viewed in

a discourse context. Although we examine the underlying regularities

of several of the specific devices (left dislocation and deictics which

participate in peak sentences, especially), our primary aim is to de-

termine their distribution and functions) across extended texts, which

also shows their periodic character. This periodic character reflects

the paragraph nature of spontaneous oral expositions. To a significant

degree, surface structure cohesive devices implement the grammatical

units of paragraphs, especially the theme and peak.

For convenience, parts of the analysis are performed on a subset of

the corpus' expositions, a random selection of 200 sample expositions,

five from each informant. In some cases, the analysis is based on a

smaller set of 80 expositions, two from each informant.

Based on the expositions of forty people, our findings have a

broad generality with respect to the community investigated, White

Pine, Tennessee. It might reasonably be asked why so little concern

and attention is given in this study to variation in cohesive devices

between subgroups of the informant sample, according to either the

age, the educational level, or the socioeconomic background of the in-

formants. Except for only a few scattered remarks (regarding the in-

troducer "like," for example) nothing is said about differences between

individual or groups of speakers. If White Pine had been presumed to

be a homogeneous speech community, the care to interview a large and rep-

resentative cross-section would not therefore have been taken. It was

found that the discourse devices under consideration in this study

showed inconsequential differences in function across the entire sample

of forty informants. None of the features were restricted to one subset

of the sample. The generalizations in this study resulted from their

obviously consistent functioning for all forty speakers.

This is not to say that no variation occurred in the frequency of

the realization of such devices as left dislocation. It was realized in

at least three instances for each speaker. But one speaker, a seventy-

year-old woman, had seventy instances. Hers was, however, by far the

longest interview-nearly three hours. Neither for the four informants

not native of Tennessee nor for the one native to Great Britain did left

dislocation function differently from White Pine natives. Peak sen-

tences, with fifty instances, were used by twenty three speakers of many

different educational levels and socioeconomic backgrounds and thus dis-

tribute broadly throughout the sample. Other devices may have varied in

frequency too. But none vary in function. More important, there is

little to suggest that any of the devices considered in this disserta-

tion are diagnostic of any of the speakers. A closer look might re-

veal some kind of variation, but that would be the object of another


The Study of Monologue Expositions

Linguists interested in supersentential segments of speech have

only recently heeded Firth's injunction of nearly a half-century ago

that "neither linguists nor psychologists have begun the study of con-

versation; but it is here we shall find the key to a better understand-

ing of what language really is and how it works" (1957a:32). Only if it

is recognized that the function and manifestation of language is ba-

sically conversation can language best be understood. Recent studies

on turn-taking, as by Sacks, Schegloff, and Jefferson (1974), recognize

the importance of studying blocks of conversational dialogue and have

shown that they have cohesion, just as other discourse blocks do.

Klammer (1971) is a study of written dialogue paragraphs and is also an

important contribution in this respect.

The present study does not take into account turn-taking phenomena

between the fieldworker and the informants. But it is consistent with

the conversational frame of reference for studying language. It does

not artificially cut up conversation and thus de-contextualize the

monologue discourses it analyzes. It views expository monologues as

parts of conversational exchange, the context for which was controlled

(as indicated in chapter one) by the fieldworker. Pike and Lowe see

monologue as occurring when "one individual of the cast stays fixed

in the role of addressee" (1969:74). Klammer defines monologue more

loosely as "one uninterrupted speech within a dialogue context"


The monologues we encounter in our corpus are usually isomorphic

with turns in conversation, but not always. In some instances it is

obvious that monologues continue across an exchange in turns. That is,

we cannot say that a speaker needs to reintroduce, at each turn in the

conversation, all the antecedents from an earlier turn.

Good reasons for studying the structure of monologues can be

found. Longacre views monologue as a "special lopsided development of

conversation" (Longacre 1976:165). But he stresses its "universal cul-

tural importance" (p. 197). His typology of discourse genres (Long-

acre 1968, 1976, Longacre and Levinsohn 1978), which he believes to

have universal applications, is actually a typology of monologues (nar-

rative, expository, procedural, and hortatory). What Longacre consi-

ders the deep structure or universal features of expository monologues

is discussed later in this chapter.

There is another good reason for studying the structure of mono-

logues. The expository monologue type of discourse on which this dis-

sertation is based has all the features of what Hymes (1971) calls a

"speech act": setting and scene, participants, ends, act sequence, key,

instrumentalities, norm, and genre. Viewing monologue as a unit, more-

over, allows us to examine thematizing devices, deictics, and other de-

vices in this dissertation. This is because these devices help orga-

nize monologue conversational turns into one or more self-contained

thematic units-paragraphs-which represent the natural thematic struc-

tural units in which speech is used.

Oral Paragraphs and a Review of Paragraph Studies

In analyzing the structure of discourses, linguists have often rec-

ognized distinct supersentential units smaller than the discourse it-

self. This is the case with Van Dijk (1977) for narrative, Klammer

(1971) for dialogue, and Longacre (1968) for dramatic, procedural, and

other types of discourse. Van Dijk uses the term "macro-structure" for

a sequence of sentences which belong together and which frequently has

"Morpho-Phonological markings" (1977:152-3). He mentions pauses, in-

tonation, and particles as examples of such markings. Klammer, Long-

acre, and others adopt the less original but more useful term "para-

graph," the traditional term referring to an orthographic unit of lan-

guage. Herein we will also use the term paragraph for these interme-

diate structural units in oral discourses that are unified in more ways

than simply forming a block of print on the page.

For Longacre, any string of two or more sentences which belong to-

gether constitute a paragraph: "Unstructured sequences, or strings of

sentences which do not constitute a paragraph structure, do not exist"

(1968:53). Most often the paragraph has been defined as any self-con-
tained thematic unit. Pike and Pike call it "the minimum unit in which

a theme is developed" (1977:488). We consider a paragraph to be any

thematic block of language, i.e. a unit of language organized around

a theme or piece of information.

Thematic unity is not something merely imputed to a paragraph in

speech. It is there and is reflected to one extent or another by var-

ious lexemic, grammatical, and phonological features. In a narrative

discourse, paragraph themes are usually characters; in exposition the

themes may be characters or many other kinds of information. Examples

will be presented in chapter three.

We can view these thematically unified units called paragraphs as

having three different modes of structure-phonological, lexemic, and

grammatical.2 Although of most interest to us is the grammatical mode,

all three modes to a great extent reinforce one another. It is doubt-

ful that the grammatical structure of a paragraph can be understood

without studying the other two.

Paragraphs have not often been understood as having characteristic

phonological features. But according to Klammer, "phonologically, in a

complete description of dialogue paragraphs, it would be necessary to

account for such phenomena as stress placement, juncture, and intona-

tion in relation to the paragraph level constraints affecting them"

(1971:33). Even earlier, Becker pointed out the existence of phonolo-

gical markers of paragraph structure:

Paragraph tagmemes seem to be marked by shifts in pitch regis-
ter, tempo, and volume when paragraphs are read aloud. While
these signals can be perceived by a trained phonetician, they
have not been adequately described in the laboratory, and
their written counter parts have not been identified. (1965:242)

Unfortunately research into such features and markers, as by

Bridgeman (1966) and Lehiste (1978, 1979), has been either too recent

or too sparse to have developed well-tested tools to examine them.

Bridgeman's pioneering work on Kaiwa claims that oral paragraphs in

that language have one of a set of six phonological onsets and one of

three phonological codas, with an optional peak preceding the coda of

a paragraph. Lehiste has attempted to find, with as yet little suc-

cess, the phonological correlates of paragraph boundaries by measuring

pausing, lengthening, and pharyngealization at the beginning and end of

sentences and paragraphs.

The isolation of the phonological features of paragraphs is the

subject for another dissertation. Only occasional observations regard-

ing phonological matters are advanced in this study, when these features

are concomitant with the surface structure cohesive devices that we

analyze. More than likely a characteristic paragraph-initial lengthen-

ing and/or pausing will eventually be shown to aid in giving paragraphs

coherence. One suspects, however, that no phonological signal will cat-

egorically mark some part of a paragraph's structure. What one should

expect to find is that a significant coincidence of phonological and

grammatical signals co-occur at thematic breaks in a discourse. In

other words, phonological paragraphs should be to a great extent iso-

morphic with grammatical and lexemic ones.

Paragraph structure can also be viewed as lexemic, involving how

the semantic resources of the language organize information into a the-

matic unit for a given kind of discourse. Although a principled means

of approaching the lexemic paragraph has yet to be satisfactorily de-

vised, quite a few lexemic functions which participate in paragraph

structure have been pointed out. Klammer (1971), largely adopting

his functions from Wise (1968), mentions addition of participant, elab-

oration,, comment, specification, contrast, reason, summation, conclu-

sion, setting, and result. But it has been difficult to show how these

functions are organized linearly, as Longacre has done for the grammat-

ical units of the paragraph. The set of such functions has seemed

open-ended and at the same time we have not yet found, according to

Pike and Pike, "a way to treat some of them in a linear fashion, in

order to be able to perceive them as something 'going on"' (1977:364).

This difficulty of formulating the lexemic structure of actual

paragraphs has in recent years caused lexemic structure to become

viewed as "deep" in contrast to the "surface" structure of paragraphs

being grammatical. The problem has become one of showing how lexemic

functions or units were realized by grammatical ones. Otherwise, lex-

emic paragraphs would be only hypothetical. The problem of the extent

of isomorphism was tackled by Wise (1968) for oral narratives in Noma-

tsiguenga and for written dialogues in two English texts (I Henry IV

and Great Expectations) by Klammer (1971). It is useful to quote at

length the remarks of Wise:

Lexemic structure, as the term is used here, is a variety of
deep structure. For example, "logical subject" and "logical
object," i.e., agent and goal, are constituents of lexemic con-
structions on the clause level. In levels beyond the sentence
the lexemic order of constituents is, in general, the chronolo-
gical order of events in the narrative. Paraphrase and syno-
nymy are important for the analysis of lexemic sentences and
phrases as well as for the analysis of lexemes which are posited
as the minimum lexemic units.

In contrast, grammatical structure is a variety of surface
structure. For example, "grammatical subject" and "grammatical
object," i.e., subject and complement, are constituents of gram-
matical constructions on the clause level. In levels beyond the
sentence, the grammatical order of constituents is the actual
surface order in which the narrative is told. Morphemes are po-
sited as the minimum grammatical units.
The nature of constituent units in lexemic constructions is ra-
dically different from that of constituent units in grammatical
constructions, but the boundaries of the two kinds of construc-
tions frequently coincide. However, the boundaries are not always
isomorphic so that the lexemic and grammatical constructions can-
not be mapped onto each other in a direct, one-to-one manner.

This kind of mapping can be easily done in many cases. For example, the

lexemic function of the introduction of a participant into a paragraph is

usually equivalent to and realized in the theme and this is further rein-

forced by one of the thematizing cohesive devices-left dislocation in

many cases. The lexemic function of summation is sometimes indicated by

the kind of structure we are calling peak sentences, but this is not al-

ways the case. Such sentences always represent the peaks of paragraphs

grammatically but only sometimes are these peaks the realizations of such


The third and most discussed way to view paragraph structure is gram-

matically. The grammar of a paragraph is the system of units (Longacre's

current term) or constituents (Wise's term) whose order is the actual

surface structure order of the paragraph. Longacre (1968, 1976, Forth-

coming) especially has long made the case that paragraphs are grammatical

entities and that each type of paragraph (narrative, explanatory, horta-

tory, dialogue, precatory, etc.) has its own grammar. He contends that

the units (in his 1968 work he calls them "tagmemes" in positing his

paragraph formulae, as we will see below) which constitute such enti-

ties are ordered linearly, and he posits a tagmemic formula for each

major and minor type of paragraph in Longacre (1968).

As Becker (1965) rightly points out, the description of paragraphs

as grammatical entities owes much to traditional rhetoric. Longacre's

and especially Becker's formulae for expository paragraphs resemble

closely long-employed formulae for paragraph development in rhetoric

texts. Becker's contention is that the majority of expository para-

graphs are organized grammatically in either a TRI (Topic-Restriction-

Illustration) or a PS (Problem-Solution) fashion.

Longacre's major contributions to the study of the grammar of para-

graphs lie in the aforementioned formulae and in his systematic delinea-

tion of paragraph types (Longacre 1968) and discourse types (Longacre

1968, 1976) on the original basis of studying paragraphs and discourses

in twenty-five Philippine languages and dialects. His general formula

for the tagmemes constituting explanatory paragraphs in the various

languages is3


With TEXT as the only obligatory tagmeme, this formula can clearly ac-

comodate an indefinitely large number of different patterns, since EXPO

(exposition) "can occur an indefinite number of times in paragraphs"

(p. 109). Longacre views TEXT as "much like the topic sentence of tra-

ditional rhetoric" (p. 109). We take the formularization of the gram-

mar of general paragraph types to be a desirable goal, but it is not

clear yet how tightly one can be devised for expositions in English.

Longacre's quest for a formula for the linear organization of para-

graphs serves as a practical model for us; our study focuses on two of

the units Longacre posits in his formula for expository/explanatory


Longacre has revised his views on two of his units (or tagmemes,

as he called them in 1968), Text and Peak. Originally likening Text

to a paragraph's topic sentence, he indicates that the obligatory unit

in a paragraph is the theme, that piece of information which a para-

graph is "built around" and which, for an expository paragraph, "is not

different in kind from a thematic participant" in a narrative para-

graph (Forthcoming:118). The distinction between a topic sentence and

a thematic piece of information is an invaluable one; especially it is

the piece of information (a participant or whatever) which, through an

anaphora chain, gives thematic units to a paragraph. This most recent

view of Longacre's that a paragraph has an obligatory theme is consis-

tent with the one we maintain here.

In his earlier view, Longacre considered Peak to be only one as-

pect of Text. He states that Text "is the PEAK grammatically and lex-

ically of its paragraph. As PEAK of its paragraph the TEXT contrasts

in placement with the PEAK (BU or STEP ) of NARRATIVE and PROCEDURAL

PARAGRAPHS which come later in the paragraph" (1968:109).4 In a later

work, he indicates that Peak is the plot-like element optionally pres-

ent in non-narrative as well as narrative paragraphs (Longacre 1976:

228-9). It comes near the end of and represents a kind of climax or

denouement to the paragraph. Longacre's most recent view of Peak

is an even more refined one:

For discourses that are not narrative but still have a climax
of development, the peak may mark "target procedure" in a
procedural discourse, "climactic exhortation" in a behavioral
discourse of the hortatory variety, and a most satisfactory
or "culminating explanation" in expository discourse. .
(Longacre and Levinsohn 1978:105)

If we look back to the exposition above at the sen-

tence therein ("I think this is the greatest change that has happened

in our town is to have new people coming in with new blood, new

thoughts, new ideas, new approach to things"), we see clearly that this

sentence represents the culminating explanation and that it is the

peak of this one-paragraph exposition. Our chapter four below is

largely devoted to showing how such sentences indicate the peaks of


In the remainder of this study we show the extent to which we can

find that certain surface structure cohesive devices are associated

with grammatical units of expository paragraphs.

At this point we should ask why we find surface structure cohe-

sive devices such as thematizing constructions and peak sentences at

all, since their use is not categorical. Left dislocation, as we will

see in chapter three, is employed in only slightly more than one-fifth

of its potential cases. If left dislocation is optional, as are other

thematizing constructions in English, why do speakers use it at all?

Why is it that grammatical units of the paragraph are sometimes

overtly marked by a specific structural reflex? We will suggest here

that such devices occur because they serve certain of a speaker's

pragmatic purposes.

The speaker's primary purpose in exposition is to convey new infor-

mation to the hearer. For this reason the speaker/producer of a dis-

course or text takes into account the presuppositions and expectations

of the hearer. The hearer expects the speaker to supply the necessary

antecedents and background for him/her to follow what is being said. In

other words, they have what is referred to as the

"Given-New Contract" of cooperation. The speaker must be aware of what

the hearer knows, which information has already been given to the hearer,

and which information will be new to the hearer. The hearer must make

the effort to follow the progress of the exposition.

It follows that any means which facilitates the fulfillment of this

contract and which makes an exposition easier for a hearer to follow may

well be used. While such thematic devices as left dislocation can appa-

rently be used also for other pragmatic reasons, basically they seem to

facilitate this given-new contract between the speaker and the hearer.

Thematic devices present to the hearer what new information will be com-

mented on in an ensuing message. This piece of information represents

what will be thematic for what follows and has the potential for being

the antecedent for the following block of discourse. It is only if the

hearer has such a piece of information, the theme, clearly in mind that

he/she can compute what the speaker says.

It is probable that the use of cohesive devices is especially fa-

vored by a speaker in certain pragmatic situations. Left dislocation,

for instance, seems more likely to be used when a speaker wishes to be

emphatic, to show a contrast, or to make a particularly abrupt point.

Although the primary function of left dislocations is to introduce new

themes, our corpus has thirty five instances of left dislocation invol-

ving given information, when a speaker wishes to reemphasize a piece of

information emphatically. In nearly ten percent of our left disloca-

tions (45 out of 606) we find the dislocated NP immediately preceded by

"but" or "however," showing that the speaker contrasts those NPs with

earlier ones. In seven instances, we find that a left dislocation is

immediately followed by an identifying sentence, as in

1) Threshing floors, that's what they had. (III2-27)

This shows that a speaker wishes to make an especailly abrupt point

about a theme.

In the remaining chapters of this dissertation a strong case is

made that we cannot understand how expository discourse is organized

without considering the supersentential or discourse context of cer-

tain cohesive devices. If this is true, it seems to imply something

about how a speaker communicates to a hearer. Cohesive devices, the

formal signals of the language in which a discourse is expressed,

seem to aid a speaker in communicating the hierarchical structure of

a discourse linearly. This is another way of saying that such devices

communicate the outline (implicitly, of course) of an ongoing discourse

to a hearer.

Longacre's Typology of Discourse Genres

It was indicated in chapter one that for practical reasons the

fieldworker chose to elicit expositions rather than other types of oral

discourse in the White Pine community. It was apparent that exposi-

tions were the type most readily elicitable from the cross-section of

people that he wished to interview. Also it was decided that the col-

lection of a large corpus of expositions rather than smaller corpora of

two or more types of discourse would be more conducive to generaliza-

tions about expositions.

That exposition is a distinguishable discourse type is not an ad

hoc presumption on our part. It is a hypothesis based on the typology

of discourses developed by Longacre (1968, 1976). In his study of

twenty-five languages and dialects in the Philippines, Longacre and his

colleagues undertook the basic spadework of sorting out which discourse

types could be described across the languages studied. The typology of

discourses which resulted has provided a practical framework for fur-

ther investigations with other languages, as this study is an investiga-

tion into the English of the Southern Appalachian region.

Limiting himself to prose monologues, Longacre indicates that four

genres of such monologues (narrative, expository, procedural, and hor-

tatory) have common characteristics cross-linguistically and that

within any given langauge there are a finite number of other genres.

We may characterize the four main genres as follows: narrative dis-

course relates a story of some kind; expository discourse explains

something or exposes a subject; procedural discourse (e.g. a recipe)

tells how to do something; and hortatory discourse endeavors to bring

about a change of some kind.

The major parameters along which these four genres are distin-

guished are shown in Figure 2.1 on the following page and adopted from

Longacre (1976). The rows in this figure distinguish those genres

which are +succession (having a sequence in time) and those which are

-succession (lacking a sequence in time). The columns distinguish the

+projection (occurring in the future) from the -projection (those hav-

ing accomplished time or in which the time frame is not focal) genres.

Longacre's scheme further indicates the person orientation of each of

the four genres.

According to Longacre's typology, narrative discourse characteris-

tically involves a sequence in time, occurs in an accomplished (past)

time frame, is agent-oriented, and is related from the first or third

person point of view. Procedural discourse also involves a sequence in

time, but occurs in a projected time frame, is patient-oriented, and is

not related from the point of view of a specific person. Hortatory

does not involve a sequence in time, is set in projected time, is ad-

dressee-oriented, and is related from second person point of view. Hor-

tatory discourse strictly speaking does not have a time frame but a

mode-since the speaker is wishing or urging that something take place.

Expository discourse need not involve a sequence in time nor does it

necessarily have either an accomplished or a projected time frame (time

is not focal). Expository discourse is subject matter-oriented and has

no necessary person reference (point of view). It is essentially im-
personal and may involve either inanimate or animate entities. If

U 1. 1/3 person. 1. Non-specific person.
C 2. Agent oriented. 2. Patient oriented.
C 3. Accomplished time. 3. Projected time.
+ E 4. Chronological linkage. 4. Chronological linkage.

U 1. No necessary person reference. I. 2 person.
C 2. (Subject matter oriented). 2. Addressee oriented.
C 3. Time not focal. 3. (Mode, not time).
-E 4. Logical linkage. 4. Logical linkage.

Diagmm I. Deep structure genre

Figure 2.1 Deep Structure Genre
(From Longacre 1976:200)



it brings in people," Longacre says, "they are simply subjects of

explanation and analysis" (1976:199).

More recently Longacre has furthered elaborated his scheme by

adding another parameter tensionon. What he says about tension char-

acterizing some discourses is worth repeating:

The final parameter *tension also applies to all the above dis-
course genres. Narrative discourse is purely episodic if it
contains essentially no struggle or plot (for example Willa
Catcher's novel Shadow on the Rock). Such discourse is consi-
dered to be -tension. Most stories, however, involve some
sort of struggle or plot and are clearly +tension. Similarly,
in procedural discourse, there are some discourses which are
more or less routine, while others involve struggle and alter-
natives and are therefore +tension. Both behavioral [horta-
tory] and expository discourse have varieties in which argu-
mentation is assumed. These are also +tension. Discourses
of these genre which do not have this characteristic are
-tension. (Longacre and Levinsohn 1978:104)

we mention this third parameter because it concerns the presence or

absence of a peak in the discourse: "If a discourse is plus tension,

there will most likely be some kind of climax of development, some

marked surface structure 'peak' (Longacre, 1978 ). This is a pri-

mary concern of chapter four.

Longacre's characterization of expositions appears to have consi-

derable validity for the expositions constituting our corpus, although

it must be pointed out that Longacre's types are "pure." In actuality

discourses often of different types are embedded within one another.

For example, within an exposition may be embedded a short narrative

for background or illustrative purposes. Longacre recognizes this in

viewing his genres as deep structure ones which are sometimes skewed in

the surface structure (1976:206-9).


1. The parenthetical notation at the end of these and all further
data in this dissertation refers to the page of typed transcript
on which they are found. For information on which speaker any
data are from, consult the list of informants in Appendix A.

2. Terminological obfuscation notwithstanding, we use lexemic to
refer to concepts such as those of Klammer and Wise, including
contrast, comment, addition of participant, specification, which
are manifested in linguistic structure in various ways. Other
tagmemicists (e.g. Pike and Pike 1977) use "referential" to
refer to such concepts. Stratificationalists use the term "seme-

3. For Longacre, terms "explanatory" and "expository" are equivalent
in his 1968 study.

4. Step and BU (Build Up) are the obligatory tagmemes in procedural
and narrative paragraphs.

5. In his 1976 work, Longacre does not distinguish description from
exposition and we will consider description a subtype of exposi-
tion here.



General Remarks
It is indicated in chapter two that a speaker may use certain

constructions known as cohesive devices to signal to a hearer what

the theme of a following block of the speaker's message will be.

Theme is the obligatory unit of such a block or paragraph and is de-

fined as the piece of information (not necessarily a human participant)

which initiates an anaphora chain and which the block is about. Al-

though it must be generalized to apply to all paragraphs, this narrow

definition of theme demonstrably applies to those paragraphs in our

corpus beginning with thematic devices.

In this chapter our concept of theme is compared with others

(Halliday 1967-8, Firbas 1966, Jones 1977) and we discuss briefly those

constructions that these treatments (especially Jones) consider to be

thematic devices. The main portion of the chapter explores the nature,

functionss, and distribution of one particular device-left disloca-

tion. This is one very common device through which paragraphs are

formed in this corpus of expository monologues. Finally we look at

existential sentences in the corpus and see how they also function as

thematic devices. They also complement left dislocation.

More often than not themes are reflected by anaphora chains ex-

tending for more than one sentence. An anaphora chain is a string of

substitutes (pronouns, for the most part) in a paragraph of language

which refer to a common piece of information or theme and is a special

kind of equivalence class. According to Becker (1965), an equivalence

class includes not only pronouns and demonstratives but also the repe-

tition of words and their synonyms. Although not every paragraph in

our corpus has an anaphora chain, those which begin with a "left dis-

located" NP nearly always do. In the two following examples the links

of the anaphora chains are underlined:

1) Fieldworker: Haveyou participated in any of the Pine Day cele-
brations here in town? Have you attended any of them?
Informant: Yes, I usually go, because the ladies of our church,
we usually have a booth. We bake things, and so we have a
sile. That's a big day for us, you know. That's a way to
make uh some money for our uh projects, and things like that,
and that's how we were able to help pay for our uh paint that
recently that we uh, we painted the inside t1e-church. The
ladies did a little painting, but, but we did have enough
cashto buy all the paint. (III4-15)

2) ...This property that he, he let us have then for the parsonage,
build a parsonage of it, it, at one time there was, was a school
there. I was going to reTte that to you. There, that's where
that I went to school, and my first eight years of schooling
was right there. And at this old school, that's where this par-
sonage now sets across from our church. (11I2-1)

In the first example, "the ladies of our church" is clearly the theme

of a block of information several sentences beyond its introduction. We

find ten pronouns referring back to it and one repetition of "the la-

dies." In the second example, the theme is "this property. .."; it is

around the property that the remainder of the exposition here is orga-

nized. The anaphora chain contains such a pro-word as "there," since

the piece of information which is left dislocated and which is thema-
tic is a locus. We see in these examples that theme is not just an

intuitive notion but that it demonstrably organizes a block of dis-


Our view of theme as that information which unifies a block of dis-

ourse and which often is reflected by an anaphora chain is not incon-

sistent with other views found in the literature. For Halliday,

Theme is concerned with the information structure of the clause;
with the status of the elements not as participants in extralin-
guistic processes but as components of a message, with the rela-
tion of what is being said to what has gone before in the dis-
course, and its internal organization into an act of communica-
tion. (1967:199)

Halliday's position is that theme is involved in both clause and dis-

course structure. Theme is "what comes first in a clause" and around

which the remainder of a clause is structured (1967:212). But also

theme is that information which "is being talked about" (p. 212) and

which assigns

.to the discourse a structure which is independent of sen-
tence structure and through which the speaker both organizes
the act of communication into a chain or message blocks, the
'information units', and specifics within each message block
the value of the components in the progression of the dis-
course. (p. 196)

Halliday's express concern, however, is not to show how a theme parti-

cipates in discourse but to explore the many choices that a speaker

has for theme and how a clause is organized around such choices. To

support his clain that "the sneaker has within certain limits the op-

tion of selecting any element in the clause as thematic" (p. 212), he

shows the variety of different elements which may be fronted and thus

thematized in sentences with inverted word order (pp. 214-5). In sen-

tences 3 and 4 below, for example, a direct object and a temporal ad-

verb are thematized:

3) These houses my grandfather sold.

4) Tomorrow John's taking me to the theatre.

Sentences with such inversions are very infrequent in our data, but Hal-

iday's general claim about the kinds of elements which may be themes

matches closely those thematized by left dislocation shown later in

this chapter.

The present study takes a step beyond Halliday by examining how a

theme relates to a context beyond its immediate sentence, but our view

of theme is consistent with Halliday's. Nowhere does he state that a

theme's domain is bounded by its immediate sentence, and we may reason-

ably infer that he would agree with our finding that theme plays an

important role in organizing a paragraph.

In the Prague School view, theme has to do with the information

structure of a sentence. The elements) of a sentence which are

"given" (previously mentioned in a discourse) constitute that sen-

tence's theme. The theme need not appear in initial or in any other

sentence position and a sentence need not have any given information.

If it does not, it has no theme (Firbas 1966:268). Danes and Firbas,

contemporary members of the Prague School, continue this tradition.

Firbas' view of theme, however, is much less similar to the one we

take here because it is explicitly confined to the limits of a sen-

tence. His view is a refinement of the widely known theme-rheme

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