HEL Spring 2010

Dialect Project


A preliminary project topic is due on the wiki before class Tuesday, March 23

Project due on our website before class, Thursday, April 22


Your second project this semester will be focused on a variety or dialect of modern English. Your project has two essential steps, but these can be arranged in two different ways. Your final project will consist of:

1. A linguistic description of a dialect of English, noting distinctive feature of its

·        lexicon

·        phonology

·        syntax

·        morphology


2. One or more audio representations of the dialect, with analysis of dialectal features,        specifically noted with times.


These will be posted together on our website before class, Thursday, April 22


How to begin:

There are two ways I could imagine approaching this project:

One would be to pick a dialect you are interested in, research it, write a description of the dialect, then search for audio samples which support your research.

Another approach would start with a clip of the dialect, which you would then analyze, and where appropriate make generalizations about the larger dialect.

Beware: when selecting a topic for investigation, makes sure the dialect/accent involved in the clip you use is real. For example, a project on Mel Gibson's Scottish English in the movie Braveheart would NOT be an acceptable topic.


Suggested Bibliography:

Our textbook (Brinton and Arnovick), ch. 12 provides an overview of a variety of British, North American, and World Englishes.

I have put a number of books on Reserve at the Library.  You’ll have to actually go to the library to use them.  Some of them are pretty dense, but if you have an idea what you’re interested in (for example, “African American English,” “Australian English”) the Table of Contents and index will point you in the right direction.

I highly recommend starting with:

World Englishes : an Introduction / Gunnel Melchers and Philip Shaw. (London, 2003).


Note bloody obvious:

Bothering to investigate the resources which I went through the trouble of putting on reserve for you will reflect favorable on your project.

Making obvious mistakes which could have been remedied by use such resources will reflect very poorly on your project.



Audio Analysis:

Make sure to very clearly highlight moments in your audio clip which exemplify aspects which you have discussed, by noting the feature, and at what time the features occur.

I have put together a brief sample here.

Please note: the above is not a complete project.  It does not contain an overview of the dialect in question, nor does it note any distinctive morphological or syntactical variations.


Some ideas:

(this is NOT a complete list of potential topics)

American Englishes

Latino English


New York English

Boston English

Chicago English

Minnesota English

Appalachian English

Cajun English

Hawaiian Creole


Outer Banks


General Canadian English

Newfoundland English


Australian English

New Zealand English

South African English

Liberian English

Jamaican English


British regional dialects of English



Estuary English


Welsh English

Scots English

Hiberno (Irish)-English


South Asian (Indian) English

Hong Kong English

Philippine English