February 19, 2006

Currents in the sea of speech

Robert Siegel interviewed Bill Labov on All Things Considered, 2/16/2006: "American Accent Undergoing Great Vowel Shift". Siegel is an intelligent and skillful interviewer, and Bill gives a terrific performance. Listen to it!

Unfortunately, Bill chose to publish the Atlas of North American English with Mouton de Gruyter, who in turn felt compelled by the economics of publishing -- as they see it -- to price the result at $620 a copy (until March 31, 2006, and $749 thereafter, plus $125/year for access to the online site), and to ask Bill to remove the summary chapter that he used to have on his web site about this stuff. So if you want to learn more, the price of admission is pretty steep.

Mouton did invest quite a bit in producing the maps and so on for the print version, and in supporting the development of the CD-ROM by Jürgen Handke at the University of Marburg. On the other hand, the underlying research was supported by years of U.S. government support (from NSF), and it's a shame to see the results -- which are of interest not only to linguists and linguistics students, but to many others as well -- locked up behind such an extraordinarily expensive wall.

Posted by Mark Liberman at February 19, 2006 08:30 AM