In Defense of Literary Dialect: A Response to Dennis R. Preston


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Journal of American Folklore


If folklorists were to accept Dennis R. Preston's (1982) charges against their attempts to record dialect in print, they might feel embarrassed that their textmaking of the 1970s was so bad. Few folklorists would like to admit that their efforts at representing folk speech are culturally or racially biased; nor would they like to think that their uses of literary dialect respellings "having as their primary effect on the reader a demotion of opinion of the speaker represented" (Preston 1982:323). Yet if we accept Preston's data and premises, and adopt his "rules" for determining what to respell, then we will seriously undermine the study of folklore as artistic verbal performance. While Preston's interest in improving the quality of texts is laudable, there are serious problems with his presentation of data, his attitude toward the print medium as a vehicle for recording performance features, and his rules for respelling.




Fine, E. (1983). In Defense of Literary Dialect: A Response to Dennis R. Preston. Journal of American Folklore, 96(381), 323-330. doi:10.2307/540948