The speechways of the folk

Does your grandmother call a chest of drawers a dresser? Or a bureau? Or perhaps a chiffonier? Over the years and across regions, Americans have favored many different words for furniture—and much else. Since 1929, the Linguistic Atlas Project has been documenting these lexical changes. We tell the story of the Project, from its early days of interviewing retired male farmers, through its initially clumsy attempts to engage Black Americans, to today’s scientific, demographically diverse approach.

Music in this episode by View Points, The Undertowns, Farrell Wooten, Arthur Benson, Mica Emory. Photo courtesy of the Linguistic Atlas Project. Read a transcript here.

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Episode 41