This article examines the perceptual dialectology of 50 residents of greater Boston. Map drawing reveals perceived dialect boundaries, particularly within the northeastern United States, but also in other regions of the country. In degree of difference ratings, these Bostonians do not think they sound very different from other New Englanders. In rating pleasantness and education, however, they set Massachusetts apart. In doing so, however, they exhibit an interesting mix of linguistic security and insecurity. The analysis suggests that respondents have internalized two common but conflicting American stereotypes of Boston residents—the educated elite and working-class descendants of immigrants—and rely on these stereotypes when evaluating their home area.

This content is only available as a PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.