Electronic Theses and Dissertations

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

M.A. in Modern Languages


Modern Languages

First Advisor

Christopher Sapp

Second Advisor

Felice Coles

Third Advisor

Robyn Wright

Relational Format



The purpose of this study was to examine and describe vernacular speech in East Tennessee during the nineteenth-century. This study combines strategies and methodologies from both historical and sociolinguistics to examine dialect in written sources. Specifically, this study utilizes phonological and grammatical data from the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires supplemented with data from other written sources to describe East Tennessee vernacular speech. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, the geographic and social distributions of nonstandard past tense verbs to be and do are analyzed. The findings from this study suggest that nineteenth-century East Tennessee vernacular speech of white men was relatively homogenous with respect to geographic location, but was highly socially stratified. The results from this study also demonstrate that the Tennessee Civil War Veterans Questionnaires are an underutilized source for linguistic inquiry and that this and other nineteenth-century written sources need further examination in order to fully describe vernacular speech.



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