MI Diaries

The MI Diaries project has been documenting life and language in Michigan since April 2020. Participants record regular “audio diaries” on their mobile devices using our custom app, in response to weekly prompts.

Supported by National Science Foundation (PI:Sneller, co-PI: Wagner), National Endowment for the Humanities (PI: Sneller), MSU Humanities Arts Research Program (Sneller).

Great Lakes Speech and Society (GLASS)

This project examines the vowels of English spoken in the Great Lakes region. The vowel system in this geographic area emerged from a series of sound changes known as the Northern Cities Shift. We have been compiling recordings of conversations with longtime residents in order to establish whether the Northern Cities Shift is continuing, stable, reversing, or being replaced with a new vowel system. We’ve also conducted some preliminary research on listeners’ evaluation of Great Lakes speech. Our results to date converge with prior work in Chicago, IL and Syracuse, NY in that we find little evidence for the expected Northern Cities Shift vowel configuration in its entirety. Furthermore, at least two vowels — TRAP and LOT — seem to have accumulated some social awareness. The recordings in the Greater Lansing area are drawn from the Lansing AutoTown oral history archive, the IHELP-MI corpus of sociolinguistic interviews with college students, and short interviews with members of the public that we continue to collect on a rolling basis.

Supported by National Science Foundation BCS1251437 (PI: Dr. William Labov, University of Pennsylvania; Subaward PI: Wagner); MSU College of Arts & Letters Research Award 2015-2016 (Wagner); MSU College of Arts and Letters Faculty Summer Fellowship 2016, 2018 (Wagner); MSU Graduate School Dissertation Completion Fellowships (Zheng, Nesbitt).