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Three Kinds of Borders: Geographic, Linguistic, Cognitive

This talk surveys a number of recent and in-progress studies of the interface between linguistic detail and cognitive classification in the study of Southern U.S. English (SUSE). These studies of geographic mapping, of dialect features, and of cognitive map drawing add sociolinguistic depth to the study of Southern US English by teasing out the richer demographic characteristics of its speakers, particularly those based on linguistic detail. The results show some classic negative and positive stereotypes of the South (uneducated and rural, but casual and informal); they add, however, unexpected characteristics such as age (Southerners are old), sex (Southerners are male) and show much finer gradations (“We sound Southern but…….”) of what it means to be a SUSE speaker on the basis of a number of discoursal, task-oriented and experimental findings.


Dennis R. Preston is Regents Professor and Co-Director of the Center for Oklahoma Studies, Oklahoma State University and University Distinguished Professor Emeritus, Michigan State University. His work focuses on sociolinguistics and dialectology, including four recent NSF grants, two in folk linguistics and two in language variation and change.

Presented by the Rhetoric, Writing, and Linguistics Speaker Series

Thursday, February 21, 2019 at 3:30pm to 5:00pm

McClung Tower and Plaza, 1210
1115 Volunteer Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37996

Event Type

Lectures & Presentations


Humanities & Social Sciences


Current Students, Faculty & Staff, General Public

Contact Name

Jessi Grieser

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