Labov’s classic account of New York City English in 1966 identified a number of distinctive phonological characteristics that were sociolinguistically stratified, by speakers’ age, class, and speech style. The evidence indicated that many of the variants most associated with the city dialect were socially stigmatized, and some were involved in ongoing change. A comparison of those results with recent studies of the city provides a unique perspective on how those changes have progressed over fifty years. Broadly speaking, most of the features formerly typical of New York City English have receded or disappeared, continuing trends that were already evident in Labov’s study. The social stigma accorded those features was the likely motivation for these changes.
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