Joseph A. StanleyDownload this article

University of Georgia



Relative to many varieties of English spoken in North America, there is little research on Pacific Northwest English (PNWE). Early work largely documents the lexicon of various groups within the region, or the region as a whole. In the mid-twentieth century when the Linguistic Atlas Projects dominated American dialectology, the Linguistic Atlas of the Pacific Northwest contributed to documenting the language in the area, with an emphasis on pronunciation for the first time. Only in the past two decades has a large body of research been done, specifically focusing on the Pacific Northwest (PNW). A variety of features have been studied, particularly those relating to vowels. Though Washington and surrounding states share features with the West in general such as the cot-caught merger and /u/-fronting, prevelar raising has received the most attention by linguists. This paper summarizes past and recent scholarship on the area to show that the high variation in PNWE from a century ago has not diminished in the speech of the region today.


Stanley, Joseph A. 2016. Pacific Northwest English: Historical Overview and Current Directions. UGA Working Papers in Linguistics 3, The Linguistics Society at UGA: Athens, GA.


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