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Secondary education as a group marker in St. Louis, Missouri

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Daniel Duncan



This is the authors' accepted manuscript of an article that has been published in its final definitive form by Cambridge University Press, 2021.

For re-use rights please refer to the publisher's terms and conditions.


This paper calls attention to the saliency of secondary education within the community and its utility in constructing social categories, in order to consider how it affects linguistic variation. Older St. Louisans draw on secondary education to construct a divide between those who attended Catholic high schools and those who attended public schools. I show that speakers in a sample of older St. Louisans differ in production of the thought vowel based on education type. This effect is weakened in apparent time when we consider a larger sample that includes both older and younger speakers. I draw on Brubaker’s (2004) view of groups as events and actions to argue that these categories were indexed only while they had a high degree of groupness, and suggest that social changes that led to diminished groupness between Catholics and Publics also resulted in the loss of a linguistic distinction between the groups.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Duncan D

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Language in Society

Year: 2021

Volume: 50

Issue: 5

Pages: 667-694

Print publication date: 01/11/2021

Online publication date: 09/06/2020

Acceptance date: 30/01/2020

Date deposited: 31/01/2020

ISSN (print): 0047-4045

ISSN (electronic): 1469-8013

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S0047404520000378


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