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Why is it that New Yorkers put their groceries in ‘begs’ instead of bags, while Westerners use ‘bogs’?  And what’s up with Southerners confusing pins with pens? 


Our fascination with differences in the way we talk, and how what we say has changed over time, echoes centuries of curiosity, dating back to the Old Testament’s Tower of Babel and Plato and Aristotle’s contemplations about the relationships among languages.  


Dr. Fridland shares this fascination and her scholarly work looks at how language, and the way we pronounce vowels in particular, has changed over time.  She is very interested in how aspects of our social identity such as region, gender, age and ethnicity affect how we talk and how we are perceived.   You can learn more about her National Science Foundation funded research at       

Her new book, with co-author Tyler Kendall, explores how our pronunciations of sounds are tied into our social identity.  She is also the lead editor of the three volume series, Speech in the Western States, for the American Dialect Society.  She has published numerous papers in academic journals like American Speech, Journal of Sociophonetics, Journal of Phonetics, Language Variation and Change, Lingua and Language and Linguistic Compass and regularly writes chapters for reference books such as MIT Handbook of Linguistic Data Management, Listening to the Past: Audio Records of Accents of English and the forthcoming New Cambridge History of English


The map identifies the main regional dialect divisions and hometowns of participants who took part in Valerie's research.

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