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About Us

WEP About us

We are faculty, staff, students, and community members around Wisconsin and beyond.  We study and teach about Wisconsin-connected language and dialect issues and also work with communities throughout the Midwest in the form of public talks and discussions, and interviews with print, radio, and television media. In our public discussions, participants help us explore how Wisconsinites talk, how our regional English has come to be so distinctive, and how the linguistic situation of Wisconsin is changing today. We're happy to answer questions and we’re happy to come talk with folks in communities around the state.


The Wisconsin Englishes Project (WEP) is a project of the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC). The WEP began in 2006, exploring various aspects of English dialects spoken in Wisconsin, and our work has grown to include other languages spoken in Wisconsin, past and present including these issues:

  • regional differences in English across the state and the Upper Midwest—its distinct vocabulary, pronunciations, and influences, and how they change over time,
  • the languages spoken in the Upper Midwest, past and present; and
  • the reflection of Upper Midwestern culture and identity through the language choices residents make and how language is represented.

Our work has been supported by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, the Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment, the University of Wisconsin – Madison Graduate School, the Kemper Knapp Bequest and others

WEP was founded by:

  • Tom Purnell, English, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Eric Raimy, English & Linguistics, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Joe Salmons, German, University of Wisconsin – Madison

From left: Tom Purnell, Joe Salmons and Eric Raimy, in the studios of Wisconsin Public Television.


Our work is overwhelmingly collaborative and the folks listed below have been key partners:

  • Erica Benson, English, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
  • Joshua Bousquette, German & Linguistics, University of Georgia
  • Susan Meredith Burt, English, Illinois State University 
  • Cristopher Font-Santiago, English, University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Benjamin Frey, American Studies, University of North Carolina
  • Joan Hall, Chief Editor, Dictionary of American Regional English, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Samantha Litty, German, University of Wisconsin – Madison, 
  • Mark Livengood, Wisconsin Humanities Council
  • Felecia Lucht, Wayne State University
  • Monica Macaulay, Linguistics, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Jennifer Mercer 
  • Yvonne Nagel
  • Antje Petty, Max Kade Institute, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Julia Plier
  • Michael T. Putnam, Germanic & Slavic, Penn State University
  • Kathryn Remlinger, English, Grand Valley State University
  • Luanne von Schneidemesser, Senior Editor emerita, Dictionary of American Regional English, University of Wisconsin – Madison
  • Peyton Smith, Assistant Vice Chancellor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Kristin Speth, German, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Catherine Stafford, Department of Spanish and Portuguese, University of Wisconsin – Madison 
  • Karen Washinawatok, former Director, Menominee Language and Culture Commission

Relaxing after a hard day of fieldwork in Rhine Center, Wisconsin. From left: Joshua Bousquette, Mike Putnam, Alyson Sewell, Guido Rohmann

If you have questions or comments about our work, please email Joe Salmons:

Web design by Yvonne Nagel and massive work on content by Cristopher Font-Santiago and Samantha Litty.

Samantha Litty and Cris Font-Santiago in the CSUMC offices.