Author ORCID Identifier

Date Available


Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts in Linguistic Theory and Typology (MALTT)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences



First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Cramer


This thesis analyzes how Taylor Swift has changed the way she expresses her Southern identity, specifically her dialectal features, over the course of her career and through her switch from country music to pop music. There were two processes to assess the change in Swift’s speech: the production of /ai/ tokens in interviewed speech and the perception of dialectal change by fans in the comment sections of the interviews on YouTube. Seven interviews on YouTube and their comment sections were used as the data source for this study. Production of /ai/ was measured through an auditory analysis to determine whether tokens were monophthongal, diphthongal, or somewhere in the middle. Perception was evaluated by scraping the comments from the YouTube videos and running key word searches related to accent. The results of the production portion of the study confirm that there has been a decrease in monophthongal tokens of /ai/ from 2007-2019 in Swift’s speech. The results from the perception part of the study show that fans do notice a change in “sounding Southern” and try to explain that change through either labeling Swift as “fake” or by positing other theories related to Swift’s individual life experiences (such as moving around the country). The implications of this study point to how dialectal features are linked with identity performance, and also how non-linguists justify changing dialectal features.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)