A Perceptual Dialect Map of Oklahoma

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Phillip Weirich

Abstract

This paper explores the perceptions that people in Oklahoma have about linguistic variation in the state. Respondents from Oklahoma were given a map of the state and asked to indicate where people speak differently and to describe the way of speaking in those regions. Responses were summarized based on the regions indicated as different, the labels provided, and the spatial location of the labeled regions. The results show that Oklahomans perceive a distinction between urban and rural speech, with “standard” speech being found in urban areas. Rural speech is associated with southern speech as well as with the words “twang” and “drawl”. The results emphasize the need to further explore the connection between southern and rural identity in Oklahoma and the complicated role that such identity may play in language change in the state. 

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