“he was a nuclear engineer. They called him bubba”
From a talk I attended on dialects, regarding the thick accent and dialect of one particular successful southerner.
My own dialect usage is a mix of standard, Southern and African-American Vernacular (AAVE) English1. I wouldn’t say I’m a dramatic code switcher, but it happens. I’ve accidentally surprised a few non-dialect speakers who have overheard me speaking with someone else: “I didn’t know you talked like that.” My answer being well not to you. It is generally unnoticed at work or at the typically all-academics social events where there’s no reason for me to use any dialect.
Recently when talking with someone who studies these things (and has heard me talk)2 it was brought to my attention that I have a few small AAVE markers that I don’t switch out of. This was a bit surprising to me, I thought my standard speech was thoroughly standard. Not quite. She had me say a few words out loud to check my pronunciation. I am apparently unable to not drop the –g in the word frustrating. Unable. The standard pronunciation doesn’t even seem like the same word to me. It sounds wrong.
Ok, this is just one word. It doesn’t matter. Still, the idea that I have a speech pattern that I didn’t notice is slightly disconcerting and makes me slightly self-conscious.
1. The last two there are apparently both known as “low prestige dialects”.
2. This person had a few interesting stories regarding dialect and academia. Particularly one researcher who apparently could not code switch out of AAVE at all. As you might imagine she had trouble landing a job.