The Web-Based Dialect Survey of Western Pennsylvania
© 2003, Herb Luthin
ENGLISH 353 American Voices: Language & Dialect in the U.S.A.
Department of English
|In a nutshell, we're interested in the way Western Pennsylvanians talk---not the way we're supposed to talk according to our teachers and employers, but the way we really do talk amongst family and friends, when we're not being self-conscious about it. It turns out there is a lot about the Western Pennsylvania dialect that is unique and interesting and worth studying---and that's why we have prepared this survey.|
|Not everyone in Western Pennsylvania talks the same way. Some say gumband and some say rubberband. Some say crick and some say creek. Some say dahntahn and some say downtown. Some say needs fixed and some say needs to be fixed. And so on. Our goal, with your help and input, is to map the different patterns of speech that make up the patchwork quilt of dialect in Western Pennsylvania. So please tell your family and friends about our site!|
|Thanks to the great response to our trial run in 2001 (more than 500 individuals found the site and took the survey), we have been able to create a powerful new resource for studying dialect variation in Western Pennsylvania. To see some preliminary results from the 2001 version of this study, follow this link to the MAPS & STATISTICS pages. (If you are a teacher, and would like to discuss the possibilities for incorporating this material into your classroom, please drop me a line at email@example.com.)|
Anyone who wants to is free to take this survey. Our research focus is on Western Pennsylvania, but without information from surrounding areas as well (especially Eastern Pa., Ohio, New York, West Virginia, and Maryland), it will be harder to interpret our data. So even if you didn't grow up in Western Pennsylvania, we'd still love it if you would take the time to fill out this survey, and tell others about it, too.
Who We Are
For several years now, students who take my dialects course have been designing questionnaires and collecting dialect information from friends, family, and acquaintances to analyze in class. Initially our questionnaires were derived from the vastly more extensive one developed for the Dictionary of American Regional English, but gradually they have acquired their own identity, one specifically adapted to language in Western Pennsylvania. In 2001, we decided to expand our pool by posting the survey on the web; the current survey is a refinement of the original, compiled by the 18 students in my Spring 2003 class.
All the information collected here is strictly confidential and anonymous. We do not record your username or save it for identification purposes, and therefore cannot contact you for follow-up questions, sell or trade personally identifiable information to other parties, or anything of that nature. The linguistic and demographic information gathered here is available for research purposes, but cannot be traced to you or any other person.
"I have read
the above information concerning the nature of this study. I
understand that this survey is completely anonymous, that my participation
is entirely voluntary, and that I am free to skip over questions that make
me feel uncomfortable. I also understand that completion of these
forms implies my consent for the information I have provided here to be
used for research purposes."