Author ORCID Identifier

Year of Publication


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)

Document Type

Master's Thesis


Arts and Sciences


Linguistic Theory & Typology

First Advisor

Dr. Allison Burkette


The Appalachian Regional Commission (2022) designates 52 of Pennsylvania’s 67 counties as Appalachia, excluding only the southeast portion of the state. Matthew Ferrence, in Appalachia North, states that his "home is sometimes called Appalachia, sometimes Rust Belt, other times Midwest, even though very few who live there would accept any of those labels as correct" (xi). This ambiguous and fluid identity is due to the shaping, forming, and changing of Pennsylvania’s role within society from a founding colony to a thriving state with industry, unselfishly spoiling others, to the grounds of converging identities (Ferrence xi). This ambiguous identity makes the voice of Northern Appalachian speakers difficult to capture. Watt and Llamas (2017: 193) note that place is not just a location, but rather “states of mind, stances, attitudes, and the status that individuals hold within their social networks and society at large.” Historically, and even currently, stereotyping and defining these Appalachian regions has come from “outsiders” or “spectators” within society that continue add dynamic and fluid definitions that vary depending on a multitude of contexts (Ulack and Raitz 1982). Both language use and language perception play a big part “in how territories bounded by borders with their neighbors are defined” (Watt and Llamas 2017:191). By looking at language and perceptual excerpts from the Linguistic Atlas Project and present-day interviews with Northern Appalachian speakers themselves, one can compare these linguistic patterns with other patterns studied in Appalachian Englishes and investigate the identities of these speakers to understand where Pennsylvania fits into the region that is Appalachia, giving writers, researchers, and society voices and identities to capture.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)