He apparently made a passing remark about the Central Time Zone as a dialect area, maybe tongue in cheek. In this region (or rather, for one Iowa speaker specifically), you apparently don't find "X-trace effects" (where X = that, for, P and tensed verbs). If I understand the point, he was saying that CTZ speakers have sentences like the one in (d), this all from (13) of the handout:
[non-subject wh → optional that]The last one is definitely out for me, but it does sound like something I've heard, and it's not anything I listen for. I do hear another pattern pretty often, resumptive pronouns (example from a Lingua paper by Cann et al.):
a. What do you think [Mary read ___ ]?
b. What do you think [that Mary read ___ ]?
[subject wh → no that]
c. Who do you think [ ___ read the book]?
d. *Who do you think [that ___ read the book]?
I had some other point which I can't remember what it is.I'm no syntactician, but these must surely be related at some level of abstraction, since both are about filling gaps. Resumptive pronouns strike me as more age-graded than regional (with young people doing it more), though it probably has a regional aspect to it. Anyway, there's an empirical question: let's get out there and see if these patterns sound good to speakers from our time zone.
OK, enough syntax; let's talk dialects. Let's assume he was being flip about the CTZ as a dialect area, and you may chuckle at the thought that Biloxi and the Rio Grande Valley share significant regional features with International Falls and Fargo. (And did Indiana flipflop between dialects twice a year before they finally accepted daylight saving time?) Let's call it 'Fly-over Talk' or something.
If this has a clear geographical pattern to it, what is that pattern? Iowa is mostly Midlands, and we know from work like Erica Benson's that lots of syntactic stuff (including innovations) is floating around in there, and flowing from there. Is this Midlands? Is it tied to resumptive pronouns more directly, like used by the same speakers?