Year of Publication

2015

Degree Name

Master of Arts in Linguistic Theory and Typology (MALTT)

Document Type

Master's Thesis

College

Arts and Sciences

Department

Linguistic Theory & Typology

First Advisor

Dr. Jennifer Cramer

Abstract

This paper evaluates whether students’ perceptions of Appalachian English improve through a method of instruction that uses dialect literature in the classroom. Most existing methods of instruction tend to portray dialects as wrong, incorrect, or in some way less rule-governed than Standardized English, despite the numerous studies that have demonstrated otherwise (e.g., Labov 1969, Wolfram 1986). The data from this study derives from two groups of students enrolled in introductory composition and communication at the University of Kentucky. Each group is given a pre-test to determine attitudes toward Appalachian English and Standardized English. An experimental group is then exposed to a method that incorporates texts that use Appalachian English features, while no specific dialect literature is included in the control group. After the conclusion of the lessons, students in both groups complete a post-test used to analyze whether their perceptions of Appalachian English changed throughout the study. The experimental method results in significant increases in several of the attitude measures for Appalachian English, while the students that did not receive this method of instruction experienced no increase for the linguistic variety. These results demonstrate that this method has potential for reducing negative perceptions towards speakers of non-standard dialects.

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