Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology

Betsy Evans

Assistant Professor, Linguistics
University of Washington


CSDE Research Areas:


Betsy Evans’ research is concentrated in two (closely connected) areas of sociolinguistics: the attitudes to and perceptions of language variation (i.e. perceptions of whether and how language varies) and the perceptions of spatial distribution of variation in language, known as perceptual dialectology. Her work on perceptions of varieties of English explores the affective values attributed to language varieties, revealing speakers’ beliefs about both language and society. Perceptions and attitudes to different varieties of English can be a crucial component of the linguistic description and analysis of a language. Her research on perceptions of English in Washington state addresses two issues regarding perceptions of the spatial distribution of language variation. Namely, it answers questions about what perceptions residents of WA have of the English spoken there, and it responds to methodological gaps in perceptual dialectology through the use of new technology such as Geographic Information Systems for data analysis (results from this ‘Seattle to Spokane’ project can be seen here: http://depts.washington.edu/folkling/ ). The importance of geographical space and the spatial distribution of language variation has become increasingly more important as a relevant analytic category in sociolinguistics. Space is under-theorized in linguistics and understanding space as an extra-linguistic variable is an important direction for sociolinguistics.