Representations of the Appalachian region since the Civil War have cast its people in a uniformly negative light, a perception extended to the region’s speech, generally regarded as Southern. Determining the geographic borders of the “true” Appalachia may be a futile quest, but an empirical assessment of the “Southernness” of Appalachian Englishes is an accomplishable goal. Traditional representations of Appalachia speech, often propagated by outsiders to disenfranchise its speakers, need to be reconciled with the divergent language patterns actually found in the region. This article first discusses some of the dialect research on English varieties in Appalachia to provide context for the reconciling of dialectological maps with sociolinguistic evaluations of language variation patterns. Second, the article provides a quantitative exploration of morphological and phonological sociolinguistic variation in West Virginia, the one state that falls squarely within Appalachia and contains many of its dialectological transition zones. Overall, the article explores the sociolinguistic patterns swirling within Appalachia around “Southernness” and reveals the actual diversity of Appalachians and the wide range of variation in their speech across both Southern and Northern patterns.

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