Sociolinguistic Research

I wasn’t quite sure to which forum this question belonged, but as I expect the answers to take the form of opinions, I decided on Great Debates. Mods, I know this topic is less than cosmic, so feel free to move this thread if you deem it necessary.

Basically, I’m in the process of researching and writing a paper on a chosen sociolinguistic topic. Thus far, my school library has not proven to be conducive to the few general topics that I have pondered examining. Disappointed, sleep-deprived, and overworked for many weeks past, I am exhausted of all profundity - but I’m sure that the Teeming Millions can offer lots of interesting suggestions!

So, Dopers, suggest away. I need as many potential specific sociolinguistic research topics as I can get my hands on in the next few days. Give me anything you can think of! Something has to work… And I will be forever indebted to he who offers the most feasible solution. Yes, you can have my soul, and do with it what you will.


This may be a double post; if so I apologize.

Topics there should be a good bit of research on (ask your reference librarian to help you find it):

-Why is the New Orleans accent much more similar to the Brooklyn accent than it is to other southern accents? (Similar immigration trends and ethnic mixes, port city, etc.).

-Is encouraging/requiring kids with heavy street dialects (e.g. ebonics) to speak more properly culturally insensitive or in their best interest?

-British Received Pronunciation (Margaret Thatcher had an almost impossible to understand regional accent before she mastered Received Pronunciation, the term for the proper diction of BBC newscasters.)

-Reconstructing Civil War speech patterns based on surviving letters from veterans. (So many Civil War soldiers were barely literate that they tended to write words as they heard them- “heered” “Peedermont” “warshed”, etc.)

-The effects of cable television upon regional accents

Hope this helps.

A deconstruction of Brooklynese as used in Maggie: A Girl of the Streets by Stephen Crane.

I did a paper on this in college. The cool part was that I could finally use Bugs Bunny as a legitimate cite.

Moderator’s Note: I think this probably fits better in the In My Humble Opinion forum, so off it goes.

I always knew that bunny was a Ho.

I’d second the ebonics/African-American English (AAE) suggestion. One of my linguistics professors gave an interesting lecture on it last quarter - it was based on this article which he wrote, and the fact that from a linguistic perspective AAE is a dialect just like any other variety of English - rather than English with with mistakes. (And watching/hearing a old British man speak AAE and later Jamaican English was one of the funniest things I’ve seen in a long time… Much like that scene from “Airplane.”)