Dialect in AppLit


Bibliography on Appalachian Dialects

Originally Compiled by Stephanie Humphries, 2000-2001

Articles, Books, Web Sites, Films Journals Associations
Appalachian Dialects Bibliography on Cherokee Language
Dialects and Schools See also Resources on Appalachian Dialects
Dialect Diversity Back to Bibliography Index AppLit Home
Appalachian English by Michael Montgomery contains a much longer bibliography.

Articles, Books, Web Sites, Films

Appalachian Dialects

Appalachian Accents is the focus of Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer 2000), with articles by Michael Montgomery, Anita Puckett, and others, including an article on efforts to keep the Cherokee language alive (see Duncan & Taylor, below).

Appalachian English. Web site by Michael Montgomery, editor of Smoky Mountain English. Includes articles, transcripts of "speakers that Joseph Sargent Hall interviewed in the Great Smoky Mountains in 1939," a dictionary for words in the transcripts, a quiz on knowledge of Appalachian vocabulary, and an annotated bibliography with over 500 items.

Baker, Russell. (1984). Stix pix nixed. The New York Times 16 May. p. 25(N), p. A27(L). Column about whether "hillbilly dialect on television promotes stereotyping."

Carver, C. (1987). American regional dialects: A word geography. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.

Cassidy, Frederic. G. (General Ed.). (1985, 1991, 1996, 2002). Dictionary of American Regional English, (Vols. 1-4). Cambridge: Harvard University Press, Belknap. Based on a massive survey of dialect variation throughout the U. S. Volumes published so far go through Sk.

Cherokee Language - see AppLit's Bibliography on Cherokee Language.

Christian, Donna. (1986). American English speech recordings. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. (Available at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC)

Christian, D., Wolfram, Walt., & Dube, N. (1989). Variation and change in geographically isolated speech communities: Appalachian English and Ozark English. Publication of the American Dialect Society No. 74. Tuscaloosa: U. of Alabama Press.

Clines, Francis X. (2000). Linguist encourages pride in Appalachia's dialect. (Professor Kirk Hazen). The New York Times 7 Feb. p. A12.

Duncan, B. R. & Taylor, J. (2000). Hanging in the balance: The fate of the Cherokee language in the 21st century. Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, 17(2). Excerpt available at

Earley, Tony. (2002). The Appalachian dialect—guilt and the past participle: True confessions from the Appalachian diaspora." In Dudley Cocke and Edward Wemytewa (Eds.), Journeys Home: Revealing a Zuni-Appalachia Collaboration (pp. 19-22). Zuni, NM: Zuni A:shiwi Publishing. "Novelist Earley describes his journey from native speaker of the Appalachian vernacular to university English professor," comparing his dialect with that of his wife who "grew up outside the same small town in western North Carolina." He sums up the differences in their families: "Simply put, Sarah's grandfather owned a textile mile; mine owned a mule" (p. 19). This book also discusses the Zuni language and collaboration between Roadside Theater of Kentucky and Zuni Pueblo's Idiwanan An Chawe (Children of the Middle Place), the first Zuni language theater, in western New Mexico. Their play, "Corn Mountain/Pine Mountain: Following the Seasons," which toured nationally, is included in the book in English and Zuni. The play contains a tale called "Jack and the Animals/Jack dap Swa'hol Wowe."

Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006). Eds. Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press. Section editor for "Language" is Michael Montgomery (pp. 999-1033). Entries are arranged alphabetically within each section, such as Cultural Traditions: Language, Cultural Traditions: Folklore and Folklife, Cultural Traditions: Humor, Cultural Traditions: Literature. Contents overview, sample entries and background at encyclopedia web site. AP article on publication of the book by Duncan Mansfield, "Reference Book Tackles 'Hillbilly' Stereotype: Work Chronicles Facts on Appalachia," Louisville [KY] Courier-Journal 6 Mar. 2006. Similar article "Encyclopedia of Appalachia Offers Realistic Picture of Region" in Kingsport [Tenn.] Times-News 9 Mar. 2006. ETSU news report 3 Mar. 2006. Article by  Bob Batz Jr., "Encyclopedia Opens Window on Appalachia," Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 14 Mar. 2006.

Farwell, Harold F., Jr. & Nicholas, J. Karl, Eds. (1993). Smoky mountain voices: A lexicon of Southern Appalachian speech. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Based on a collection made by Horace Kephart, which "focuses on the special words used by the people who lived in or near the Great Smoky Mountains of North Carolina in the years immediately before the National Park was formed—roughly the first third of the twentieth century." See cover and description at

Hazen, Kirk. (1998-). West Virginia Dialect Project: Learning and Teaching. Contains a bibliography of work on Appalachian dialects, web links, dialect questionnaires and quizzes, discussion of projects such as Language Variation in the West Virginia Family and Appalachian African-American English.

Hazen, Kirk. (1999). Studying dialects in the Mountain State. West Virginia Alumni Magazine, 22(3). Easy-to-read introductory article on Appalachian speech. A good place to start for those who think Appalachian speech is "Elizabethan."

Hendrickson, Robert. (1997). Mountain range: A dictionary of expressions from Appalachia to the Ozarks. Facts on File Dictionary of American Regional Expressions, vol. 4, New York: Facts on File. 147 pp.

Higgs, Robert J., et al. (1995).  Appalachia inside out: A sequel to Voices from the hills. Anthology in 2 vols. Knoxville: Tennessee U. Press, 1995. Vol. I contains material on Sequoyah, who developed the Cherokee syllabary. Vol. II, chap. 4 focuses on Dialect and Language, with poems, tales, and essays discussing the role of language in Appalachia from a variety of perspectives.

Johnson, Dolores M. (2000). Appalachian language: Back-talking the stereotypes with research and technology. Paper presented at the Annual Spring Conference of the National Council of Teachers of English. New York, March 16-18. 9 pp. ERIC Abstract: "Two of the most stigmatized languages in the United States today are African American dialect and Appalachian English dialect. The attitudes many hold about Appalachia have come from the literature written about the place, the people, the cultural life of the mountain region, in general, and the spoken dialect. Arnow's "The Dollmaker," Jesse Stuart's works, the Foxfire books--all became mainstream successes and represented the culture of Appalachia, along with popular media shows such as the 'Beverly Hillbillies' or 'Mayberry.' . . . . Although linguistic studies disassociated intelligence, social status, and life style from regional dialect, this made little dent in the strong stereotypes that had been accepted by the public. Even the language used to talk about variants of American English contributes to the stereotypes. On one of their web sites the University of Tennessee uses the following words: 'Appalachian English (AE) is a non prestigious dialect which has a very intricate rule system.' And just as people from the mountain regions are beginning to understand and appreciate their heritage of language and culture, it appears to be 'dying out.' But just perhaps, a more diglossic equality of expression will begin to be seen as people move to accept as simply a language variation the regional dialects of American English that proliferate across the states. (Includes a sampling of 9 Internet sources on Appalachian identity.)"

Montgomery, Michael. (1995). Does Tennessee have three "Grand Dialects"?: Evidence from the Linguistic Atlas of the Gulf States. Tennessee Folklore Society Bulletin, 57(2): 68-86.

Montgomery, Michael. (1989). Exploring the roots of Appalachian English. English World-Wide, 10(2): 227-78.

Montgomery, Michael B. (1997). The Scotch-Irish element in Appalachian English: How broad? How deep? In Ulster and North America: Transatlantic Perspectives on the Scotch-Irish, ed. H. Blethen, C. Wood, Jr., 189-212. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

Montgomery, Michael and Hall, Joseph S. (Eds.). (2004). Dictionary of Smoky Mountain English. Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press. See also Appalachian English web site.

Mountain Talk (2003). Videocassette. 60 min. North Carolina Language and Life Project. A video made by linguist Walt Wolfram and others, in which only western North Carolina natives speak. Narrated by storyteller Gary Carden. The CD An Unclouded Day (64 min.) contains music, stories and talk by some of the same informants. This project is also producing a number of other films on North Carolina language communities.

Puckett, Anita. (1995). Speech acts and cultural resistance in a rural Eastern Kentucky community. In E. C. Fine (Ed.) Appalachia and the Politics of Culture, Journal of the Appalachian Studies Association, 7: 111-120. Johnson City: East Tennessee State U., Center for Appalachian Studies and Services.

Williams, Cratis D. (1992). Southern mountain speech, ed. Jim Wayne Miller and Loyal Jones. Berea, KY: Berea College Press.

Wolfram, Walt, & Christian, Donna. (1976). Appalachian speech. Arlington, VA: Center for Applied Linguistics. An overview of Appalachian English based on an important study conducted in Mercer and Monroe Counties, WV.

Dialects and Schools

Bennett, C. I. (1999). Comprehensive multicultural education: Theory and practice. 4th ed. Boston: Allyn and Bacon, 1999. According to W. T. Owens, Bennett discusses Appalachia in a study on how to meet the needs of multicultural children, using examples of children who had difficulty in school when taught outside their ethnic group or geographic home. Includes discussion of dialect differences and a lesson plan "The Many Faces (and Shoes) of Cinderella," by Patricia A. O'Connor, that gives "Ashpet" as one example.

Christian, D. (1994). Vernacular dialects in U. S. schools. ERIC Digest. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.

Christian, D. (1997). Vernacular dialects and Standard American English in the Classroom. ERIC Minibib. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.

Holt, Daniel D. (Ed.) (1993). Cooperative learning: A response to linguistic and cultural diversity. ISBN: 0-937354-81-3. Provides teachers with the theoretical rationale and practical strategies for creating successful group activities for students from diverse language backgrounds.

Sleeter, C. E., and C. A. Grant. (1999). Making choices for multicultural education: Five approaches to race, class, and gender. 3rd. ed. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Merrill. According to W. T. Owens, Sleeter and Grant discuss "Appalachians specifically in relation to the topics of dialect, content relevance, and single-group studies," giving recommendations for handling dialect differences in classrooms.

Wolfram, W. (1990). Incorporating dialect study into the language arts class. ERIC Digest. Washington, DC: ERIC Clearinghouse on Languages and Linguistics.

Wolfram, W., Adger, C. T., & Christian, D. (1999). Dialects in schools and communities. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum

Wolfram, W., & Christian, D. (1989). Dialects and education: Issues and answers. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall/Regents.

Dialect Diversity

 Alvarez, L. and A. Kolker. Producers (1987). American tongues. New York: Center for New American Media. American Speech. A publication of the American Dialect Society. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press.

American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Position on language variation. (1983). ASHA, 25, 22-23.

Christian, D. (2000). Reflections of language heritage: Choice and chance in vernacular English dialects. In P. Griffin, J. Peyton, W. Wolfram, & R. W. Fasold (Eds.), Language in action: New studies of language in society. Cresskill, NJ: Hampton.

Encyclopedia of Appalachia (2006). See details in section above.

Labov, W. (1972). The logic of nonstandard English. In Labov, W. (Ed.), Language in the inner city: Studies in the Black English vernacular. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press. (ED 082 196)

Labov, W. (1987). How I got into linguistics, and what I got out of it. A great reading for beginning students on why linguistics is important.

Lippi-Green, R. (1997). English with an accent: Language, ideology, and discrimination in the United States. London: Routledge.

Nicholson, C. (1989). A field guide to Southern speech. Little Rock, Ark.: August House.

Preston, D. R. (Ed.). (1993). American dialect research. Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Wolfram, Walt. (1991). Dialects and American English. A Publication of Center for Applied Linguistics. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall. A textbook covering a broad range of topics on American dialects, with a glossary and bibliography. Brief discussion of Appalachian English included.

Wolfram, W., & Schilling-Estes, N. (1998). American English: Dialects and variation. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.

Dialects in Literature

Ellis, Michael. (2006). Appalachian English in literature. In Rudy Abramson and Jean Haskell (Eds.), Encyclopedia of Appalachia. (pp 1008-11) Knoxville: Univ. of Tennessee Press . Other details on this book in section above.

Fisher, L. (2003). "I'm thinking nothing is as simple as you guess:" Narration in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh. Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 28 (Spring): 17-25. Fisher argues that in Shiloh, Marty's first-person narration in present tense is a remarkably unusual and compelling narrative strategy, explaining why this children's novel captivates readers who are not usually interested in "boy and his dog stories." In addition to discussing narratalogical issues in detail, Fisher notes Naylor's success in using dialect in the narration, not just in dialogue, and in making Marty's occasionally generalizations and critiques of his rural culture convincing.

Hanlon, Tina L. (2008). Reimagining normal in literary depictions of language change and dialect diversity. Presented at Children's Literature Association Conference, Normal, Illinois, June 12, 2008. Reprinted in this web site. Includes examples from children's books set in Appalachia.

Herrin, Roberta T. (1991). "Shall we teach 'em or learn 'em?": Attitudes toward language in Appalachian children's literature. Journal of the Appalachian Studies Association, 3: 192-98. Critiques the use of dialect in 8 novels for children set in Appalachia. Herrin observes that "false representations of Appalachian speech abound in children's books" but "two cultural phenomena are accurately demonstratedassimilation and isolation," and "the language features most often singled outmight could, for exampleare the common ones which purists and schoolmarms have sought to stamp out for decades with no success" (pp. 182-83). See AppLit bibliography Appalachian Fiction for Children and Young Adults under Crook, Lenski, Lee, Burch, Chaffin, Joos, and Holley.


American Speech

Appalachian Journal: A Regional Studies Review

Journal of Appalachian Studies

Now & Then: The Appalachian Magazine, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Summer 2000) focuses on Appalachian Accents.

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Associations, Societies 

Note:  I have purposefully provided few web links since these organizations have already done an excellent job compiling links, publishers' lists, etc. For linguistic resources of all kinds, including conferences, on-line resources, etc., visit this "granddaddy" of a site:


Appalachian Studies                              

Center for Appalachian Studies, Appalachian State University

Great resources for researchers and educators alike. Links to repositories of over 26,000 books, 4500 reels of microfilm, 5300 microfiche, 1600 audio tapes, 900 commercially produced phonodiscs, 400 videotapes and films, about 1000 linear feet of manuscripts, 150 linear feet of clipping file containing articles from Southern Appalachian area newspapers about the region, over 100 periodical subscriptions, several hundred maps, as well as slides, photographs.

Appalachian Studies Association

See other resources on AppLit's Links page.


American Dialect Society. Listservs, links, archives, phonetic symbols, lists of on-line resources, publishers, etc. A great place to start a search!

Center for Applied Linguistics. Offers information and links on nearly every aspect of language and linguistic diversity. Check out the FAQs, Public Policy Issues link, the Coalition on Language Diversity in Education, the Dialect Resources, and the Question and Answer service.

Linguistic Society of America. A tremendous resource including FAQs, linguistics programs, publications, publishers. The focus is broad, but includes topics on dialects.

Modern Language Association - a major professional organization for scholars who study and teach languages and literature

Southeast Conference on Linguistics (SECOL)

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Dialect Home

This page's last update: 2/3/09 02/03/2009 by Tina L. Hanlon
Links checked 8/1/02
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