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This study examines the perceptual dialectology of residents of eastern Massachusetts. The data reveal detailed attention to perceived dialect boundaries, particularly within the northeastern U.S., but also in other regions of the country. As is commonly the case in perceptual dialectology work, the respondents use the tasks presented to them to differentiate their home area from other states. In doing so, however, they exhibit an interesting mix of linguistic security and insecurity. The analysis suggests that respondents have internalized two common but conflicting American stereotypes of Boston residents – the educated elite and working class descendants of immigrants – and rely on these stereotypes when evaluating the home area.


Originally published in American Speech, 80 (4), 2005, 388‐405.