Since 2012, each winter term students in the Ling 491 Sociolinguistics course at the University of Oregon have worked on a collaborative sociolinguistic project examining variation in Pacific Northwest English. The projects simultaneously give students hands-on research experience, teach/demonstrate (socio)linguistic principles and methods, and uncover new (undescribed) regional patterns of language variation. And the projects are fun! Our recent projects have focused on:
- The past habitual system in Pacific Northwest English (Winters 2012, 2013)
- The alternation between used to + infin., would + infin., & simple past forms to encode past habitual action.
- Variable (ing) in Pacific Northwest English (Winter 2014, 2017)
- Alternate pronunciations like talking vs. talkin’ and something vs. somethin’.
- Adjective intensification in Pacific Northwest English (Winters 2015, 2016)
- The many choices available to “intensify” adjectives, like very, really, so, super, & so on.
Student projects have also created a collection of over 200 interviews with area residents. This growing collection of interviews make it possible for each class to build on the work of previous classes. Further, many of these interviews are available for professional research purposes for students and scholars working on language in the Pacific Northwest.
Here is an example of the excellent student research undertaken in the course, a project on adjective intensification from one group of students in the 2015 class:
Alsaeed, Bader, Jean-Paul Horrigan, Erica Leishman, Jessica Lohmuller, Annalise Ramsthel, Shanon Turner, & Maxwell Zeryck. 2015. “You’re really so very pretty: Intensifiers in Oregon”. Class paper for Linguistics 491. Eugene, OR: University of Oregon.
Student research on past habituality (Winters 2012 and 2013) inspired the McLarty et al. (2014) paper “Perhaps we used to, but we don’t anymore: The habitual past in Oregonian English” as well as an undergraduate honors thesis by Shireen Farahani (2014), “Variability and semantics of past habituality in Oregonian English”.