Western American English

Western US states

One of my areas of research is on English in the Western United States. Thanks to a grant from the UGA Graduate School, I've collected recordings from people all across the West using Using Amazon Mechanical Turk in order to get a better idea about what people sound like. I'm particularly interested in some of the states that get overlooked like Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. I'll also be targeting linguistic features that are known to be important in Western American English, but I'm also included some other stuff based on my experiences in the West. Read more here and here.

Cowlitz County, Washington

Cowlitz County

My main research project within the West is in the Pacific Northwest. In 2016 I conducted 54 sociolinguistic interviews in Cowlitz County, Washington and I’ve only scratched the surface in analyzing that data. I have presented on the Mary-merry-marry and the pull-pole mergers in this area and on clear generational changes in the pronunciation of words like bag as well as the /o/ sound. I also have access to the original handwritten data from the Linguistic Atlas of the Pacific Northwest—which, as far as I know, hasn’t seen the light of day for several decades. I’m hoping to incorporate that into my work, though admittedly I haven't gotten too far yet.

Utah English


Another area I focus on in the West is Utah. I worked on a poster involving vowel mergers over time in a single speaker (Stanley & Renwick 2016). Most recently, I've been working with Kyle Vanderniet on consonantal variation in Utah English and which we presented our results at the American Dialect Society annual meeting in January. I was also able to conduct additional fieldwork in Utah County. Utah is a unique place: its settlement history and highly concentrated Mormon population has had an impact on the English spoken in the region. I think it deserves some more attention by sociolinguists and dialectologists.

Linguistic Atlas Project

Linguistic Atlas Project Logo

My funding is through the Linguistic Atlas Project where I handle most of the coding and phonological processing of data. As part of a recent NSF grant, with Drs. Bill Kretzschmar and Peggy Renwick as co-PIs, a handful of grad students and about three dozen undergrads are actively transcribing and processing a 64-speaker subset of the Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States (LAGS). This data has never been processed yet, and we're running into a lot of "fun" obstacles in dealing with very scratchy recordings of southern speakers from the 1970s. You can see and interact with some of this data by going a site I made called the Gazetteer of Southern Vowels.

English Pre-Lateral Vowels

spectrogram of wool

A lot of studies exclude vowels followed by coda laterals in their anaylsis because they kinda mess things up. Well, I'm curious about what actually happens to these vowels. There are some mergers going on in some places, like feel-fill, fail-fell, and pool-pull-pole. But a lot of people have some sort of marginal contrast between these infrequent vowel classes. I'm currently studying what this means, taking into account speakers' production and their own intuition about these words, in order to understand more about this often-overlooked area of English phonology.

UGA DigiLab

DigiLab Logo

I also work with the UGA DigiLab where I give seminars and workshops on how to help students and faculty use computers effectively in their humanities research. I also do one-on-one consultations. Though I'm not actively publishing in this field, I do produce a series of useful resources as a part of this work. I've presented in the DigiLab Colloquium series and have given workshops on how to increase your online presence and on Excel. My current project for this semester is running weekly workshops on R.