Topics: Language, isogloss, dialect, accent, regional dialect, thematic maps
Time: 50 minutes
Purpose: To make a visual connection/understanding of isoglosses within the United States and see regional variations in the English language.
Materials: Computer lab or iPads/Android devices, notebook, blank political map of U.S.
1) Discuss/Lecture on isoglosses, dialect, accent (preferably after discussing the language tree).
2)Ask students if they have examples of friends or family who say words differently then what they do.
3) Pick 5-10 words/phrases from the Dialect Survey site and ask them to write down (phonetically) how they would say it, or the word that they would use to describe it.
4) Have the students partner up and verbalize their phonetic words/terms.
5) Debrief pair-share.
6) Have the student look at the Dialect Survey website and investigate three words/terms that they find most interesting. Tell them to write down where the general isogloss can be found on a blank US Map provided.
About the Dialect Survey
The dialect survey is an expansion of an initiative begun by Professor Bert Vaux at Harvard University. Dr. Vaux prepared an earlier version of this survey for his Dialects of English class at Harvard in 1999. The survey has since been revised and expanded for a larger, lay audience.
About the Creators
Bert Vaux is an Associate Professor of Linguistics at Harvard University. His specialties are phonological theory, fieldwork, and dialectology. He is currently preparing an Atlas of English Dialects. [ homepage ]
Scott A. Golder is a graduate student at the MIT Media Laboratory, where he studies social communities online. He graduated from Harvard College in 2003, where he was a Linguistics concentrator. [ homepage ]
Past support and assistance has been provided by Rebecca Starr and Britt Bolen.
Thank you to the Harvard Computer Society for hosting the Dialect Survey from 2000-2005. HCS is an undergraduate student group promoting the use of computers and technology at Harvard and beyond.