The West Virginia Dialect Project works to gather and analyze information about language diversity and change from native Appalachians. We are funded by research grants and staffed entirely by undergraduate research assistants under the direction of Dr. Kirk Hazen.
Our process often involves learning about West Virginian communities through:
- histories, stories, and censuses,
- interviewing people about life in their communities,
- studying specific dialect features,
- publishing papers and articles about our findings, and
- bringing dialect programs to schools and community organizations.
We firmly believe that dialects are a natural part of language and an important part of our culture and our identity. Thus, we see them as a resource for language education, not a problem. Our research helps us to both discover more about language in our state and to carry out important outreach presentations, allowing us to learn more about the rich linguistic variation of West Virginia and to give back by teaching others, as well.