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College of Arts & Sciences
Linguistics Program


Consulting for Atlas Obscura

Paul Reed (Ph.D., 2016) recently served as an expert consultant for Atlas Obscura in an article that explores phonological variation in Southern English.

Paul Reed (Ph.D., 2016, Linguistics) served as an expert consultant for Atlas Obscura in an article that explores phonological variation in Southern English. Despite the perception by some Northerners that all Southerners sound the same, Reed notes that Southern speakers in fact exhibit extensive variation. In addition to regional and class differences, there exists a "big rural/urban split in the 20th and 21st centuries,” which can be attributed to the fact that urban speakers in the South are "tending to not sound quite as ‘Southern’ as they have in the past.” You can read the full article here.

He also served as an expert consultant for a second article in  Atlas Obscura about second-person plural pronouns in non-mainstream English varieties. Since Mainstream ‘you’ can be ambiguous with respect to whether it refers to singular or plural addressees, most non-Mainstream varieties have developed ways of noting the difference, such as the often-cited Southern American English example of ‘y’all’. Reed explains the development of ‘y’all’ as likely having been influenced by the language of both African slaves and British immigrants. Further, the Appalachian and Midland ‘you’uns’ can be traced back to Scots-Irish settlers bringing their second-person plural 'you ones’ with them.