1st Edition

Linguistic Planets of Belief Mapping Language Attitudes in the American South

    180 Pages 82 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    180 Pages 82 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

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    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.


    Chapter 1: Concepts of Beliefs.

    Chapter 2: Perceptual Dialectology and the Power of Labeling

    Chapter 3: Exploring Planet USA

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

    Chapter 5: Local planets: The View from Home

    Chapter 6: Conclusions



    Paulina Bounds is Associate Professor of Linguistics at Tennessee Tech University. Her research focuses on perceptions of speech in the United States, especially in the American South. She uses methods of perceptual dialectology to investigate differences and similarities in national- and state-level perceptions. 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. She co-edited Cityscapes and Perceptual Dialectology (with Chris Montgomery, 2016), and she 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. Her work focuses on attitudes toward linguistic variation, Southern identities, and social and political issues connected to American English dialects. She is the co-author of Language and Linguistic Diversity in the US: An Introduction (with Lamont Antieau, 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

    This book not only summarizes previous work on the field but also makes an important contribution by commenting upon US perceptions of the American South in a well-grounded expository manner, to raise awareness and promote the acceptability of different manners of speaking.

    Clara Cantos Delgado, Department of English Studies, Complutense University of Madrid