1st Edition

Linguistic Planets of Belief
Mapping Language Attitudes in the American South

  • Available for pre-order. Item will ship after October 29, 2020
ISBN 9781138491137
October 29, 2020 Forthcoming by Routledge
264 Pages 82 B/W Illustrations

USD $44.95

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Book Description

Linguistic Planets of Belief presents a way for people to notice, examine, and question the role language plays in identifying, recognizing, and understanding those around them. This book introduces the metaphor of ‘Planets of Belief’ as a framework for understanding both the connections of language and identity and the reasons we hold these perceptions so dear. It explains why we make up our minds about who people are and what they are like, even if they have only spoken a few words to us, as well as how language can dictate what we think of others as a whole. In doing so, it:

  • Takes a large survey of linguistic research in the field of perceptual dialectology and assesses hundreds of accounts of people and their speech from hundreds of respondents;
  • Uses maps at the state, regional, and national level in the US, to expose how our linguistic perceptions of geographical regions cluster into planets of belief;
  • Challenges readers to critically assess these assumptions and empowers readers to shift the way they think about language and to understand why they stereotype others based on speech.

Equipped with such a large data set, Linguistic Planets of Belief explains the patterns that labels from perceptual maps show us and will make you consciously aware of the interaction between language use, perceptions, and stereotypes. It is essential interdisciplinary reading for students of English language, linguistics, and sociolinguistics, and will also be of interest to anyone concerned with the ways that language, ideology and discrimination intersect.

Table of Contents


Chapter 1: Concepts of Beliefs.

Chapter 2: Perceptual Dialectology and the Power of Labelling

Chapter 3: Planet USA: South versus Others

Chapter 4: Southern Planet: Hicks, Hillbillies, and Rednecks?

Chapter 5: Local planet: The View from Home

Chapter 6: Conclusions


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Paulina Bounds is associate professor of linguistics at Tennessee Tech University. She received a Ph.D. in linguistics from the University of Georgia in 2010. Her research focuses on perceptions of speech in the United States, especially in the American South. In her research, she uses methods of perceptual dialectology to investigate differences and similarities in national-and state-level perceptions. Moreover, she examines the patterns emerging from labels used to describe speakers of various speech varieties. She has presented her work at numerous national and international conferences and has published papers in the Southern Journal of Linguistics and the Journal of Linguistics Geography.

Jennifer Cramer is associate professor and chair of the Department of Linguistics at the University of Kentucky. Her research focuses on the perception and production of linguistic variation at dialect and regional borders, with a specific interest in the dialects spoken in Kentucky. Her research utilizes the tools of perceptual dialectology to investigate connections between language and identity. She coedited Cityscapes and Perceptual Dialectology (with Chris Montgomery, 2016), and is the author of Contested Southernness: The Linguistic Production and Perception of Identities in the Borderlands (2016).

Susan Tamasi is professor of pedagogy and director of the Linguistics Program at Emory University. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from the University of Georgia in 2003. Her work focuses on attitudes toward linguistic variation, Southern identities, and social and political issues connected to American English dialects. She also works in health communication, studying physician-patient interactions and women’s health narratives. She is the co-author of Language and Linguistic Diversity in the US: An Introduction (2015).


This book provides an excellent overview of the field of what is commonly known as ‘perceptual linguistics’ or ‘folk linguistics’, bringing together theoretical issues from different related fields as well as covering all relevant empirical and methodological aspects.

Philipp Stöckle, Austrian Academy of Sciences