Having been born and raised on a farm in East Tennessee, I have a deep appreciation of and affection for the cultures and languages of the American South and especially Appalachia. I am fascinated by the intricacies and tensions of the attitudes directed at and held by speakers of these regions, and I have felt first hand the immense linguistic insecurity of speakers from the South. Because of this I have been drawn to the field of sociolinguistics.

Along with an interest in the study of Southern English syntactic and phonological variation, I am interested in intra-regional variation in language use as well as in language attitudes. Additionally, because of the extent of Southern linguistic insecurity, I hope to find ways of using language attitude studies to inform language policy in the classroom.


J. Daniel Hasty and Becky Childs. In press. You ain’t from here, are you?: Subregional Variation and Identification in the New Appalachia American Speech.

This paper examines a three-way subregional distinction between Northern, Middle, and Southern Appalachia based on younger respondents’ self-reported use of traditional lexical, phonological, and syntactic features of Appalachian English (AppE). As a result of recent social changes which have led to less isolation in Appalachia, we consider subregional differences in AppE use between young urban and rural speakers, as well as subregional differences between Appalachian identity and use of AppE. Understanding how young speakers across Appalachia are adapting and integrating traditional or mainstream features provides a lens for broader examination of the ways in which speakers of vernacular dialects negotiate the choice between competing dialect norms.

J. Daniel Hasty and Becky Childs. 2021. Investigating Appalachian Englishes: Subregional variation in the new Appalachia. Journal of Appalachian Studies 27.1: 69-88.

In this paper will focus on the results of a survey of self-reported Appalachian Enlgish (AppE) usage, investigating the extent of subregional dialect variation present in Appalachia in light of recent changes to Appalachian culture as a result of decreased poverty and isolation within the region. Rather than finding a single homogeneous AppE being used the same throughout the region, we see instead a clear distinction between the Northern and Southern ends of the region, with speakers in Northern Appalachia being much less willing to admit using features of traditional AppE than speakers in Southern Appalachia, even though for most features both subregions appeared to be hearing these features the same, pointing to a subregional difference in the linguistic construction of an Appalachian identity.

J. Daniel Hasty, Denise Paster, and Becky Childs. 2020. Valuing a variety of voices: Using digital badges to support linguistic diversity in first-year composition. American Speech 95.2, 243-252.

In this paper we describe a partnership between sociolinguists and compositionists to provide instructors of First Year composition, on a programmatic level, with the resources to not only value and maintain students’ home linguistic varieties in the classroom but also to leverage those varieties as students acquire the discourse practices of the university through the use of instructional modules distributed through an online digital badge system an online digital badging system. These badges have given us the opportunity to address students’ negative attitudes towards different language varieties and to actively celebrate and invite the use of their home language into the classroom. This system allowed us to provide scaffolding for faculty who may have believed in the importance of valuing their students’ home language in the classroom but who just had never understood how they could put this into practice.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2020. Just what and where are Appalachian Englishes: Subregional language variation in Appalachia. In Kirk Hazen (ed.) Appalachian Englishes: The life of language variation in Appalachia. Morgantown, WV: West Virginia University Press.

In this chapter, I try to provide some answers to the question of where the region of Appalachia begins and ends and what Appalachian English (AppE) is, and these definitions depend on the level of abstraction you are using. I provide geographic, political, social, perceptual, and linguistic definitions of Appalachia and AppE, and I show that while there is some degree of regional unity there is a great deal of subregional variation influenced by factors such as proximity to other contrasting regions and are also intimately tied to personal identity construction. In this chapter, I illustrate this variation in terms of a Northern and Southern divide in Appalachia with subregional differences connected to proximities to other regions (i.e., the Midwest, the North, or the South) as well as perceptions of urbanity and perceived closeness to a “big city” from either outside or within Appalachia. I also point out that, personal social identity is extremely important to understanding the variation seen throughout Appalachia.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2018. They sound better than we do: Language attitudes in Alabama. In Thomas Nunnally (ed.) Speaking of Alabama: The history, diversity, function, and change of language, Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press, 295-309.

This paper studies the language attitudes of college students in Alabama toward their own dialect in comparison to Northern and Midwestern varieties, as well as to an Appalachian variety. As in previous studies of attitudes toward non-prestige varieties, respondents rated the two Southern varieties higher along solidarity lines (e.g., likeable, nice) and lower on competence factors (e.g., educated, intelligent) than the Northern and Midwestern varieties. However, this study also revealed further subregional language attitude differences, specifically that Alabama respondents may see their home dialect as less educated and less intelligent than an Appalachian variety from Tennessee.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2017. Studying difficult to study variables. In Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs, and Gerard Van Herk (eds.) Data collection in Sociolinguistics: Methods and applications, 2nd Ed. New York: Routledge, 23-25.

This paper discusses the methodological issues that arise when working with sociolinguistic variables that are not phonological, especially morpho-syntactic or discourse/pragmatic variables which have no clear co-variants. Some of these difficulties include establishing semantically or functionally equivalent variants, dealing with pragmatic constraints on the variable context, and finding enough tokens for statistical analysis. I utilize my work with the double modal construction (Hasty et al. 2012) as an example of how to overcome some of these methodological issues through forgoing difficult (or potentially impossible) attempts to delineate a strict envelope of variation, while still leading to the identification of important social constraints on usage.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2015. Well, he may could have sounded nicer: Perceptions of the double modal in doctor/patient interactions. American Speech 90.3, 347-368.

This article assesses the perception of the double modal in the context of a medical consultation in light of Mishoe and Montgomery's (1994) analysis of the double modal's pragmatic function in mitigating face-threatening situations. Utilizing a modification of the matched guise technique and a between subjects design, an experimental group of respondents listened to a recording of a doctor using a naturally occurring double modal in consultation with a patient while a control group heard the same recording with one of the modals removed. Attitudes of the respondents were measured indirectly though responses to a semantic differential test, and the ratings of the two groups were compared. Double modal guises were rated significantly higher for adjectives measuring solidarity particularly the single adjective polite. That is, a doctor heard using a double modal was perceived as being more polite than the same doctor when the double modal was removed with no downgrading of the competence of the doctor, indicating that the double modal indeed is perceived as a good faith means to negotiate an imbalanced and face-threatening situation.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2014. We might should be thinking this way: Theoretical and methodological concerns in studies of syntactic variation. In Zanuttini and Horn (eds.) Micro–syntactic variation in North American EnglishNey York: Oxford University Press, 269-293.

This is a discussion of syntactic variation which suggests that one issue with extending the notion of the sociolinguistic variable to morphosyntax has to do with a lack of differentiation between different types of syntactic variables based on the availability of a clearly identified variant. I argue that while there are some syntactic forms like zero copula in AAE which have a clear covariant, there are other syntactic forms which have no clear covariant. I argue that syntactic variables of the latter type (which I refer to as Type 2) may best be understood as microparametric variation. I then present the double modal construction in SUSE as a case study of Type 2 syntactic variables, including descriptions of the double modal’s structure and cross-linguistic comparisons. Lastly I include some results of my sociolinguist study of acceptability judgments of double modal sentences, and I highlight some methodological concerns in the study of this type of variation. (this is an early draft of the paper, please see the volume for the newest version)

J. Daniel Hasty. 2012. We might should oughta take a second look at this: A syntactic re-analysis of double modals in Southern United States English. Lingua 122, 1716-1738.

This is a syntactic analysis of the double modal’s structure. This paper presents a new analysis of double modals placing the first modal in a Modal Phrase (MP) merged above TP and the second modal in T to more fully explain the facts about negation and questions. To maintain this position above T, I argue that the first modal lacks syntactic tense. The most crucial evidence comes from the first modal’s immunity to sequence of tense effects, given that the second modal drives the reading independent of the apparent tense of the first modal. This proposal is in line with the findings of Cinque (1999) that free forms representing epistemic modals are located above free forms representing tense in languages that make such a distinction.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2012. This might could help us better understand syntactic variation: The double modal construction in Tennessee English. PhD Dissertation. Michigan State University.

In this dissertation, I propose a binary distinction between syntactic variables that have clear co-variants (Type 1) and those that do not (Type 2), and I model Type 2 variation as microparametric variation (cf. McCloskey 1992, Henry 1995, Henry and Cottell 2007, Cornips and Corrigan 2005). I illustrate that there are ways to quantify and understand the social factors affecting Type 2 syntactic variables, without the need to identify a co-variant or establish semantic equivalence, and I utilize an extended case study of the double modal construction of Southern United States English (e.g., I might could go to the store) as a prime example of a Type 2 variable.

J. Daniel Hasty, Ashley Hesson, Suzanne Evans Wagner, and Robert Lannon. 2012. Finding needles in the right haystack: Double modals in medical consultations. Penn Working Papers, 18.2, 41-47.

This is a paper with Ashley Bartell Hesson, Suzanne Evans Wagner, and Robert Lannon on the social distribution of double modals in the Verilogue, Inc. corpus of doctor-patient interactions across the United States (over 45,000 audio recorded and transcribed interactions). We found that doctors used double modals more than patients and that double modals are used to negotiate the inherent power asymmetry of a doctor-patient interaction. Multivariate analysis showed that double modals are favored in consultations in which: the doctor has been in practice longer; the doctor is female, and the patient is not employed full time.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2011. I might not would say that: A sociolinguistic investigation of double modal acceptance. Penn Working Papers, 17.2, 97-98.

This is a sociolinguistic investigation of double modal acceptance in Northeast Tennessee. Because the double modal is a relatively infrequently occurring syntactic form that does not alternate with another easily identifiable form, sociolinguistic methods of counting occurrences and non-occurrences in spontaneous speech are not adequate. In light of this, this study utilized syntactic acceptability judgments of 12 sentences containing double modals, which were read by a native speaker of the local dialect. Age, gender, and educational level were found in a multivariate analysis to significantly constrain respondents’ acceptance of double modal sentences. Men and respondents with less education were more likely to accept double modals than were women and respondents with more education. The respondents in the youngest age group were the most accepting of double modals, and they presented no differences in education or gender.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2008. They sound better than we do: Language attitudes in Alabama. Tributaries, Journal of the Alabama Folklife Associations, 10.

This is a shortened version of the findings of Hasty 2006 which has been written for a non-specialist audience and was published in Tributaries, Journal of the Alabama Folklife Association 10 and 11. This is a special issue devoted to language variation in Alabama which was guest edited by Tom Nunnally, Auburn University. A slightly longer version is forthcoming in Thomas Nunnally (ed.) Speaking of Alabama: Language History, Diversity, and Change (tentative title). Tuscaloosa, AL: University of Alabama Press.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2006. What do yall think?: A study of language attitudes in the South. MA thesis, Auburn University.

This study employing a modification of the matched guise technique focused on Alabama students’ attitudes toward their own dialect in comparison to Northern and Midwestern varieties, as well as to a Mid-South variety. As in previous studies of attitudes toward non-prestige varieties, respondents rated SUSE higher along solidarity lines (e.g., likeable, nice) and lower on competence factors (e.g., educated, intelligent). However, while many previous studies tend to use individual speakers as emblematic of an entire speech region, this study revealed that there are further subregional language attitude differences, specifically that Alabama respondents may see their home dialect as less educated and intelligent than a Mid-South Tennessee dialect.


J. Daniel Hasty and Becky Childs. 2022. Negotiating Norms: Language and Identity in Contemporary Appalachia. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society (ADS). January 2022. Washington, D.C.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2020. Where is Appalachia? Paper presented at the “Appalachian Englishes 1: Intersections of Place, Sound, Grammar, and Ethnicity” panel at the Appalachian Studies Conference 43. March 2020. University of Kentucky, Lexington, KY. (conference cancelled)

Becky Childs and J. Daniel Hasty. 2019. Linguistic change and subregionality in Appalachia. Paper presented at the Appalachian Studies Conference 42. March 2019. University of North Carolina Asheville, Asheville, NC.

Becky Childs and J. Daniel Hasty. 2019. Constructing and reconstructing Appalachian language and identity. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) 86. June 2019. Florida Atlantic University, Boca Raton, FL.

Becky Childs and J. Daniel Hasty. 2018. Contemporary Appalachian English: Change from outside and within. Poster presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) 47. October 2018. New York University, New York, NY.

Alan Reid, Becky Childs, Denise Paster, and J. Daniel Hasty. 2018. Digital distribution and programmatic progression: An examination of ideology in a badging initiative. Paper presented at Computers and Writing.. May 2018. George Mason University, Fairfax, VA.

J. Daniel Hasty and Becky Childs. 2017. Sociolinguistic partnerships in the university: The effects of linguistic materials in First Year Composition. Paper presented at New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) 46. November 2017. University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI.

Becky Childs, J. Daniel Hasty, and Denise Paster. 2017. Negotiating new linguistic terrains: Exploring linguistics and first year writing partnerships. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) 84. March 2017. College of Charleston, Charleston, SC.

Denise Paster, J. Daniel Hasty, and Becky Childs. 2016. Valuing a variety of voices: Using Digital Badges to support linguistic diversity in a first-year composition program. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE). November 2016. Atlanta, GA.

J. Daniel Hasty and Becky Childs. 2016. Language change and identity in the New Appalachia. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Society (ADS). January 2016. Washington, D. C.

Brook Parker, J. Daniel Hasty, and Becky Childs. 2015. Surveying the new Appalachia: Change, perception, and influence. Paper presented at the Coalition on Appalachian Language Panel at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) 82. April 2015. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

In this presentation, we present preliminary findings of our investigation of language change in Appalachia through the use of a web-based survey of university students throughout southern and northern Appalachia. The survey presents traditional phonetic, lexical, and morpho-syntactic AppE features and asks respondents to report both their own usage and their observation of use of these features by other speakers in their area, including information about the discourse situation. We extend these findings to consider the ways that a community in change can be reflected in both the actual language behaviors and the perceived language behaviors of its members. We also analyze data from respondents who are not members of the Appalachian community proper but are members of the surrounding areas of the greater South to observe which traditional Appalachian features are being adopted by the surrounding communities and which features remain highly salient AppE speech features.

J. Daniel Hasty, Becky Childs, and Gerard Van Herk. 2015. Surveying the linguistic terrain: Utilizing surveys near and far. Paper presented at the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics (SECOL) 82. April 2015. North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC.

In this presentation, we contrast the challenges and rewards of usage survey projects in two locales: Newfoundland and Appalachia. Our surveys emphasize the value and utility of adapting undergraduate research to local needs. In Newfoundland, undergraduates are participant observers who collect and analyze data from and about their home speech community gaining engagement and valorization of the home language. In contrast, the Appalachian survey utilizes undergraduate researchers who are generally not members of the speech community, who gain experience engaging with theory and analysis and further students are able to situate Appalachian English within the broader Southern English that they see locally.In both cases, students gain a greater understanding of local language and its social embedding, as well as heightened engagement with their learning and investiture into the research community. Following these models, faculty are able to combine teaching and scholarship in productive ways, even when outside their primary research community.

J. Daniel Hasty and Becky Childs. 2013. The Old is New Again: Curvilinear Patterns of Linguistic Change in Appalachia Paper presented at the New Ways of Analyzing Variation (NWAV) 42. October 2013. Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, PA.

In this presentation we discuss the ways which young speakers in two distinct (geographic and ethnic) Appalachian communities are bridging the past and the present, combining the old with the new. We consider data from North Carolina and Tennessee where younger speakers are using Appalachian English features more like their grandparents and discuss the curvilinear pattern of linguistic change (Wolfram 2007) that emerges in both. We believe this curvilinear pattern is indicative of a “recycling” of Appalachian features similar to the revival of Cajun features among the young reported by Dubois and Horvath (1999) as well as the revitalization and reappropriation of particularly salient linguistic features by younger speakers in Newfoundland (Childs & VanHerk 2013).

J. Daniel Hasty. 2013. When there aren’t clear semantically equivalent variants: Microparametric variation in the case of the double modal. Paper presented at the Syntax and Variation Workshop at the 2013 LSA Summer Institute. July 2013. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI.

In this presentation, I extend the analysis of Adger (2006 and 2007) to cases of syntactic variation without clearly identifiable semantically equivalent forms like the double modal structure of Southern English , and I analyze this as microparametric variation (Henry 1995, Wilson & Henry 1998, Adger & Smith 2010) with the locus of the variation being at the level of the choice of lexical items, i.e., the choice function U in Adger's system.

J. Daniel Hasty. 2012. My doctor said what?: A study of language attitudes towards the double modal. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Dialect Soceity Annual Meeting. January 2012. Portland, Oregon.

Following the matched guise technique, this study addresses the specific question of how double modals are evaluated socially in the Northeast Tennessee. Using the frame of evaluating a doctor's bedside manner, respondents listened to a doctor interacting with a patient. In a between subjects design, respondents rated an experimental guise in which a doctor uses a double modal and a control guise with only a single modal. The double modal guise was rated significantly higher for adjectives expressing solidarity and particularly for politeness. These are the slides of my presentation of this research at the 2012 annual meeting of the American Dialect Soceity.