English Dialect Resources

Dialects play an important role in identity and diversity. They can have unique grammatical features, pronunciations, and lexical items. Linguists document dialects to uncover the diversity that exists within languages, both based within a single country (e.g. regional dialects of American English) and across the world (American English, British English, South African English, etc.). These resources focus primarily on English variation within the United States. Some focus on specific states, others on specfic types of linguistic data (e.g. syntax). Also included are dialect quizzes meant to predict where the taker is from and articles from the media about dialect features.

*Image: Dialects and Subdialects of American English in the 48 conterminous states, image copyright Robert Delaney

North Carolina Language and Life Project (NCLLP): “The United States is an extremely diverse country in many way – language is no exception. Our country has over 15 distinct dialects and 300 other thriving languages. The Language and Life Project was established in 1993 by Dr. Walt Wolfram,of North Carolina State University, in order to document the dialects of North Carolina and beyond. We work to document and celebrate the vast diversity of speech through research, education, and various media.” Their Youtube channel has informative videos about their documentaries and other linguistic work they do for the community.

Yale Grammatical Diversity Project: “This project explores syntactic diversity found in varieties of English spoken in North American. By documenting the subtle, but systematic, differences in the syntax of English varieties, it provides a crucial source of data for the development of theories of human linguistic knowledge.”

American English Dialect Recordings (Center of Applied Linguistics via the Library of Congress): “The Center for Applied Linguistics Collection contains 118 hours of recordings documenting North American English dialects. The recordings include speech samples, linguistic interviews, oral histories, conversations, and excerpts from public speeches. They were drawn from various archives, and from the private collections of fifty collectors, including linguists, dialectologists, and folklorists. They were submitted to the Center for Applied Linguistics as part of a project entitled “A Survey and Collection of American English Dialect Recordings,” which was funded by the Center for Applied Linguistics and the National Endowment for the Humanities”

How Y’all, Youse, and You Guys Talk (US Dialect Quiz through the New York Times): Using data from the Harvard Dialect Survey, this quiz gives feedback on each question revealing where in the US people use the same words and pronunciations as the participant. At the end, three cities that the participant’s dialect is closest to are identified.

The Great Pop vs. Soda Controversy
Map of the United States visualizing where people use sodapop, and coke using gradients of colors. The gradient allows the user to see not just areas where terms are preferred but a continuum of preference across the nation

Pittsburgh Speech and Society Page
Project focusing on Pittsburgh dialect features. Resources include a dictionary, podcasts, and interviews.

TELSUR Project: Atlas of North American English
A survey of changes taking place across the US from the 1990s to early 2000s. The page has resources for learning about the research methodology as well as maps of some of the survey results.