What We're Trying to Learn

What are the different social, cultural and geographic groups that people orient to? What are people's perspectives on the local area, the region, and the state? How do different people in California orient to the state's regions (e.g. Bay Area, Central Valley, North and South), and what do they see as the significance of those regions? And how do these orientations affect the ways people talk? Are there distinctive ways of speaking in and across California? We'll be asking about these things not at a "theoretical" level, but at the level of everyday life. We hope to gain understanding of by hearing about individuals' everyday experiences. We look forward to hearing your stories!

The Interviews

We do casual, recorded, one-on-one interviews that usually last between an hour and an hour and a half. We're interested in what people have to tell us about their lives in their home town, and how they think their town fits in to the rest of California. We want to know how their town has changed in their lifetime, what makes it, how it compares to other distinctive places in California, and how they perceive the language of people across California. California has been largely excluded in studies of American speech - the focus is always on the eastern US, where the English-speaking population has been in place for several centuries. One thing we're trying to learn in this study is whether California is developing its own ways of speaking English, how these ways differ across the state and across social groups, and what the differences mean to Californians. So we'll be asking some questions about special words, expressions, and pronunciations, and we'll be asking everyone to read a list of words that we think have distinctive pronunciations in California.