The Wisconsin Englishes Project (WEP, csumc.wisc.edu/wep), based in the Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures (CSUMC) and the Max Kade Institute (MKI), is a group of faculty, staff, and students around Wisconsin and beyond who share an interest in our unique language patterns. WEP was formed in 2006 with the goal of understanding:
(1) regional differences in English across the state and the upper Midwest—its distinct vocabulary, pronunciations, idioms and ethnic influences, especially changes in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary;
(2) the full range of languages spoken in the upper Midwest, past and present; and
(3) the reflection of upper Midwestern culture and identity through language choices residents make.
WEP members have been conducting outreach throughout Wisconsin, including public talks/discussions (initially sponsored by the Wisconsin Humanities Council) and interviews with print, radio, and television media. In our public discussions, participants help us explore how Wisconsinites talk, how our regional English came to be so distinctive, and how it is changing dramatically today.
The project Web site provides podcasts, announcements of public events and information on new research, including work by UW-Madison students. Our outreach programs are co-sponsored by one or more local community organizations. The first half of our English-oriented program includes an overview of how English can be spoken in different parts of Wisconsin, with notable variations in words, grammar, perception and pronunciation. Material is then presented about
the latest linguistic research results from WEP project members. The second half of the program involves a Q&A discussion.
A project of CSUMC and MKI, the Wisconsin Englishes Program has been generously supported by the Wisconsin Humanities Council in 2006 and 2007. The Ira and Ineva Reilly Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment is now supporting our "Language Matters for Wisconsin" project, beginning now and running until 2011. CSUMC and MKI have partnered with members in outreach events and materials, through continuous staff and financial support. Funding for linking undergraduates with the research-to-service model afforded by WEP is provided by the Kemper Knapp Bequest fund. Several research projects related to WEP have received additional support from the UW-Madison Graduate School.
Wisconsin Englishes directors
Tom Purnell, Department of English, UW-Madison
Eric Raimy, Department of English, UW-Madison
Joe Salmons, Department of German, UW-Madison
Wisconsin Englishes Project members
Erica Benson, English, UW-Eau Claire: Perception of dialect differences and boundaries, grammatical differences
Jennifer Delahanty, German, UW-Madison: German influences on Wisconsin English
Joan Hall, Chief Editor, Dictionary of Regional American English, UW-Madison: Words, dialects of American English, large-scale dialectological surveys
Greg Iverson, Foreign Languages and Linguistics, UW-Milwaukee: Sounds and language change
Mark Livengood, Associate Researcher, UW-Madison: Mapping
Julia Plier, freelance lexicographer: Words
Tom Purnell, English, UW-Madison: Production and perception of accent related to social class, ethnicity and geography
Eric Raimy, English, UW-Madison: Sounds, language change, language acquisition
Kathryn Remlinger, English, Grand Valley State University, Allendale, MI: Language and identity, language and ethnicity, the Upper Peninsula
Joe Salmons, Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures, UW-Madison: Sounds, language, immigration
Luanne von Schneidemesser, Senior Editor, Dictionary of Regional American English, UW-Madison: Words, language change, German borrowings in American English, large-scale dialectological surveys
Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures staff
James Leary, Director
Ruth Olson, Associate Director
Max Kade Institute staff
Cora Lee Kluge, Director
Antje Petty, Assistant Director, Educational Outreach Specialist
Kevin Kurdylo, Librarian & Archivist
Hope Hague, Administrative Assistant
If you have questions or comments about our work, please email Joseph Salmons or call Antje Petty at 608-262-7546.