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

Bender, M. C. (2004). Linguistic diversity in the South: Changing codes, practices, and ideology. Contains essays devoted to Appalachian speech communities.

Benson, Erica J. (Fall 2003). "Folk linguistic perceptions and the mapping of dialect boundaries." American Speech 78, 307-330. About Ohio's boundary with KY and WV, and labels such as "hillbilly slang."

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.

Clark, Amy. (2014.) "The Marginalized Voices of a Marginalized Place." Harvard University Press (blog), 26 June. 650 words. Reprint of Clark’s 500-word essay entry to the Dictionary of American Regional English describing the empowerment and "value of dialect variation in effective writing."

Clark, A., & Hayward, N. M. (2014). Talking Appalachian: Voice, identity, and community. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky. "Tradition, community, and pride are fundamental aspects of the history of Appalachia, and the language of the region is a living testament to its rich heritage. Despite the persistence of unflattering stereotypes and cultural discrimination associated with their style of speech, Appalachians have organized to preserve regional dialects—complex forms of English peppered with words, phrases, and pronunciations unique to the area and its people. Talking Appalachian examines these distinctive speech varieties and emphasizes their role in expressing local history and promoting a shared identity. Beginning with a historical and geographical overview of the region that analyzes the origins of its dialects, this volume features detailed research and local case studies investigating their use. The contributors explore a variety of subjects, including the success of African American Appalachian English and southern Appalachian English speakers in professional and corporate positions. In addition, editors Amy D. Clark and Nancy M. Hayward provide excerpts from essays, poetry, short fiction, and novels to illustrate usage. With contributions from well-known authors such as George Ella Lyon and Silas House, this balanced collection is the most comprehensive, accessible study of Appalachian language available today" (publisher web site).

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

Dannenberg, Clare J. (Spring 2010). "Regional identity: A real time, longitudinal study of Appalachian English in Mercer and Monroe Counties, West Virginia." Southern Journal of Linguistics, 34(1), 1-20. See also Wolfram and Christian, below.

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).

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."

Ellis, Michael, and Michael Montgomery (Winter 2012). LAMSAS, CACWL, and the South-South Midland dialect boundary in nineteenth-century North Carolina. American Speech, 87, no. 4, 470-490. Linguistic Atlas of the Middle and South Atlantic States (LAMSAS) has data collected in the 1930s, and the Corpus of American Civil War Letters (CACWL) gives analysis of 2,299 N.C. letters.

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."

Flanigan, Beverly Olson. (Winter 2001). “Mapping the Ohio Valley: South Midland, Lower North, or Appalachian?” American Speech, 75, 344-347.

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. (2004). "English Language." In High Mountains Rising: Appalachia in Time and Place, edited by Richard A. Straw and H. Tyler Blethen. University of Illinois Press, pp. 147-64.

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.

Puckett, Anita. (2003.) “The ‘value’ of dialect as object: The case of Appalachian English.” Pragmatics: Quarterly Publication of the International Pragmatics Association, 13, 539-549. Anita Puckett has done other valuable work on Appalachian language as well.

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.

Dunstan, S. B., & Jaeger, A. J. (January 01, 2016). The role of language in interactions with others on campus for rural Appalachian college students. Journal of College Student Development, 57, 1, 47-64. "Dialects of English spoken in rural, Southern Appalachia are heavily stigmatized in mainstream American culture, and speakers of Appalachian dialects are often subject to prejudice and stereotypes which can be detrimental in educational settings. We explored the experiences of rural, Southern Appalachian college students and the role speaking a stigmatized dialect has in their interactions with others on campus. Semistructured interviews were conducted with students from rural, Southern Appalachia attending a 4-year university in a Southern city, and sociolinguistic analysis of participants’ speech was performed to provide detailed linguistic description that helped explain the influence of language on these interactions. Findings suggest that interactions with peers and faculty are influenced by students’ dialect on several levels. The findings have implications for improving diversity and inclusion programming on campus as well as highlighting the importance of research that considers language as a differentiating student characteristic in higher education research and practice" (WorldCat.)

Hayes, A. E. (2018). The politics of Appalachian rhetoric. University of WV Press. "In exploring the ways that Appalachian people speak and write, Amanda E. Hayes raises the importance of knowing and respecting communication styles within a marginalized culture. Diving deep into the region's historical roots—especially those of the Scotch-Irish and their influence on her own Appalachian Ohio—Hayes reveals a rhetoric with its own unique logic, utility, and poetry. Hayes also considers the headwinds against Appalachian rhetoric, notably the resistance from ideologies about poverty and the biases of the school system. She connects these to challenges that Appalachian students face in the classroom and pinpoints pedagogical and structural approaches for change. Throughout, Hayes blends conventional scholarship with autobiography, storytelling, and language, illustrating Appalachian rhetoric's validity as a means of creating and sharing knowledge" (WorldCat).

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. 56-minute video. "Southerners talk too slowly. New Yorkers are rude. New Englanders don't say much at all. Anybody who lives in the U.S. knows the clichés about how people in the various parts of the country handle the English language. American tongues is the first documentary to explore the impact of these linguistic attitudes in a fresh and exciting manner. For over ten years American tongues has entertained and educated audiences from the high school level on up. It is in use in thousands of colleges, universities, corporate training offices, military installations, TESL classes, and other institutions. American tongues has been an enormously useful teaching tool for helping students and workers hear examples of regional speech and attitudes and relate them to their own lives. Some of the points included in American tongues: -profiles of a number of linguistic communities, including the remarkable relic area of Tangier Island, Virginia -A survey of American linguistic prejudice (regional, social, racial) -The role of the mass media in fostering stereotypes -Opinions and examples of Black English (Ebonics) -How accents in one locale can differ by social class Principal Advisors: Frederic G. Cassidy, Chief Editor, Dictionary of American regional English (DARE); Walt Wolfram, University of North Carolina at Raleigh; Raven McDavid, University of Chicago. American tongues was supported by grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and SWAMP, the Southwestern Alternative Media Project. A production of The Center for New American Media, New York. Produced and Directed by Louis Alvarez and Andrew Kolker" (WorldCat).

American speech: A quarterly of linguistic usage. A publication of the American Dialect Society. Duke University Press.

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

Bender, M. C. (2004). Linguistic diversity in the South: Changing codes, practices, and ideology. Athens: University of Georgia Press. "This volume brings together work by linguists and linguistic anthropologists not only on southern varieties of English, but also on other languages spoken in the region. The contributors, who often draw from their own involvement in language maintenance or linguistic heritage movements, engage several of the fields' most pressing issues as they relate to the southern speech communities: tension between linguistic scholarship and linguistic activism; discourse genres; language contact; language ideology; and the relationship between language shift, language maintenance, and cultural reproduction. Acknowledging the role of immigration and settlement in shaping southern linguistic and cultural diversity, the volume covers a range of Native American, African American, and Euro-American speech communities. One essay explores the implementation of 'dialect awareness programs' and the ethics of the relationship between researchers and North Carolina's Lumbee and Ocracoke communities. Another essay focuses on a single Appalachian community to explore the interplay between linguistic variables commonly associated with Appalachian speech and others commonly associated with African American speech. Other essay topics include Creek language preservation efforts by the Seminole Tribe of Florida, the history of language contact and linguistic diversity in the Carolinas, and the changing relationship between English and Mvskoke in Oklahoma. Also covered are the stereotypes, varied realities, and language ideologies associated with Appalachian speech communities; the mobilization of dialect by Cajun English speakers for creating humor, expressing solidarity, and setting boundaries; and the creative use of academic and religious discursive models in the construction of Melungeon and Appalachian Scotch-Irish discourses and identities" (publisher information).

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

Christianson, Darcy. (2002). "Language use in multiethnic literature for young adults." 19 pp. ERIC document ED477555. <>.

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. (Spring 2003). "I'm thinking nothing is as simple as you guess:" Narration in Phyllis Reynolds Naylor's Shiloh. Children's Literature Association Quarterly, 28, 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 occasional 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 with title "Depictions of Language Change and Dialect Diversity in Children's Books." 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.

Jones, Loyal. (Winter 2002) "Leicester Luminist Lighted Local Language and Lore." Appalachian Heritage: A Literary Quarterly of the Appalachian South, vol. 30. Jones's remarks at the annual Jim Wayne Miller Lecture, Appalachian Writers Workshop, Hindman, Kentucky, July 2001. Jones discussed alliteration and Miller's use of humor and local language.

Milner, Joseph O. and Loraine Moses Stewart. (Summer 1997). "Flossie Ebonics: Subtle sociolinguistic messages in Flossie and the fox." New Advocate, vol. 10, 211-214. About a picture book from just outside Appalachia in Tennessee, by Patricia McKissack.


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.

Southern Journal of Linguistics

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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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