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Spotlight

Dialect Resources:
Talking NC

The Carolinea Brogue DVD cover
Learn more about this series of documentaries and related publications on language variation in North Carolina and the American South.


Student on campus

African American English
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Dialect Collection

Headphones and Microphone

CAL Collection of American English Dialect Recordings
As part of the Library of Congress American Memory series, this digitized collection of archived recordings documents North American English dialects and is now accessible to the public online. Browse the collection.

Resource Corner

Do You Speak American?
CAL staff wrote the viewers' guide for Do You Speak American? (DYSA) , a PBS program that explores how the language we use can define us, unite us, or separate us. CAL also developed a series of curriculum units with background information and activities for using the program in high school and college classes and in teacher professional development. Learn more about DYSA.

 

Dialects

Virtually every language in the world has dialects—varieties of the language that are particular to a group of speakers. Dialects vary by region and by social group. Dialect diversity, or language variation, reflects the fact that languages change over time and that people who live in the same area or maintain the same social identity share language norms; in other words, they speak the same dialect.

Although many people believe that the variety of language they and the people around them speak is not a dialect, in reality, everyone speaks a dialect, since dialects are simply varieties of the same language. Many people also believe that there is only one correct form of a language, but in truth, no dialect is superior to another on linguistic grounds. All dialects are systematic language varieties that follow regular patterns of vocabulary choice, grammar, and pronunciation.

However, misconceptions persist regarding the use of different language varieties in the United States, especially in schools. While these issues have been recognized for years, and linguists have been conducting research to develop a better understanding of dialect patterns and attitudes toward U.S. dialects, much work remains to be done to develop dialect awareness and acceptance. To help inform the discussion, the Center for Applied Linguistics has created and collected a variety of resources related to dialects and language diversity.

African American English
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Publications

American Voices: How Dialects Differ from Coast to Coast

Dialects in Schools and Communities

Dialect Resources: Talking NC.

Ebonics: The Urban Education Debate, 2nd Edition

Literacy and Language Diversity in the United States.

Sociolinguistic Variation: Theories, Methods, and Applications

Spanish Voices: Spanish and English in the Southeastern United States

Browse our complete collection of publications

Download our related digests

Teaching About Dialects

Vernacular Dialects in U.S. Schools

Browse our complete collection of digests.

For more information, contact Carolyn Adger.