ARTICLE REVIEW

THE USE OF LITERARY DIALECT IN UNCLE TOM’S CABIN

This article is written by Allison Burkette from University of Georgia in United States of America. She uses quantitative approach in her research, thus we can find many tables and percentages in her article. She wanted to dissect Uncle Tom’s Cabin (UTC) to see the dialect representation of the characters in UTC rather than only mentioning the ‘colorful language’ of the characters. She will also prove that Harriet Beecher Stowe, the writer of UTC was remarkably accurate both linguistically and historically in writing the book. Burkette has chosen to examine only three characters from UTC; George, Mr. Haley and Aunt Chloe. She did this because to her, other characters’ speech is represented too seldom to make them candidates for empirical analysis. To do an empirical base for her discussion, Burkette used Wordsmith Tools. I do not know what version she used, but the current version is 5.0 and the price is currently around £50 (approx. US$70-80 or €65), too expensive for me to look around. To begin, Stowe’s UTC actually received both praises and criticism. Tremaine McDowell, in his 1931 article ‘The Use of Negro Dialect by Harriet Beecher Stowe’, commented that Stowe writing of dialect is inaccurate and inconsistent. On the contrary, Kenneth Florey in his own short piece in 1984, said that although Stowe’s use of dialect representation is ‘somewhat crude’, her ‘linguistic curiosity’ did result in ‘some attempt at realistic dialect portrayal’. To disprove Tremaine McDowell, Burkette herself gives one point; she wrote that actually, in recent studies of African American Vernacular English (AAVE), it is opined that there is a close relationship between AAVE and Southern White Vernacular English (SWVE) as a result of the sociohistorical context in which AAVE began. This is one of the reasons that made me think that Burkette actually want to defend Stowe’s UTC in her article. I agree with the three characters that Burkette has chosen to do her article. The first one is George, a slave but handsome, intelligent and had good education. He also talked fluently, so fluently that ’his master began to feel an uneasy consciousness of inferiority’.

lack of subject verb agreement and the non-standard use of verbal particles. she could do a non-bias comparison of the three characters because she could size up the samples taken from those characters. the wife of Uncle Tom. As for Mr. But I have to agree also with her that in real life. The ‘smarter’ the character. In her words. carefully constructed and. it seems that Burkette tried to make her reader to see that Stowe’s UTC is based on real life. he is white slave trader from Kentucky who is described as having ‘coarse. Out of those 200 words. commonplace features and that swaggering air of pretension which marks a low man who is trying to elbow his way upward in the world (Stowe 1966:11). In conclusion. Note that Burkette (or Stowe) uses many inverted commas to describe the characters. it is not so. Both Mr. Haley has 52% g-dropping. an intentionally accurate and consistent portrayal of the various dialects she was exposed to in her journeys through the Ohio River area and the South. As for syntactic features. From the software. to the best of her ability. Haley. is described as having a ‘round. the more standard their language.(Stowe. I could not agree more with Burkette when she said that it is tempting to evaluate Stowe’s use of literary dialect like that. . 1966:22). Haley has three and those are multiple negations. she made five tables and she presented it nicely. her ‘plump countenance’ attests to her ‘universally held and acknowledged’ role as a fine and generous cook (Stowe 1966:31). but it helps me to ‘see’ the characters even though I have not read the novel. she did a phonological analysis and found that George has no gdropping (as in comin’ for coming). Although I find it a bit too much. She took only the first 2000 words attributed to each character. Haley’s syntactic features but for the third one. Mr. Now comes to the analysis. Haley and Aunt Chloe have dialect respelling. whereas Mr. By using the software. I agree with burkette. and Aunt Chloe has 66% g-dropping in her speech. I find that Burkette really got a lot of information from her Wordsmith Tools software. Aunt Chloe. Aunt Chloe also has the first two of Mr. George has none. she uses non-standard past tense instead of verbal particles. and her personal encounters with slaves and freed slaves. black shining face’. ‘her (Stowe) use of language in it (UTC) is deliberate.

and Sarah "Sally" (née Sheeran). the family moved to Skagway. and finally settled to Wasilla. to Charles R. Idaho. Those information gives hint into what is peculiar about her speech. her speech was often identified with the upper Midwest. She came to be known to the whole world when she became the Republican Vice President candidate. Alaska in 1972. but we will elaborate on that later. "Chuck" Heath. Though she is from Alaska. Palin was born in Sandpoint. 1964. Who is she? She was born February 11. Then they relocated to Eagle river in 1969. . AND NEW DIALECT FORMATION: SARAH PALIN’S SPEECH Sarah Palin.DEFINING DIALECT. When she was a few months old. Alaska. a science teacher and track and field coach. a school secretary. PERCEIVING DIALECT.

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