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About Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston is a dialectologist, sociolinguist and historical linguist interested in how language variation interplays with social groupings (class, gender, age, ethnicity) in different periods of the history of English and Germanic as a whole. He has done two full- scale sociolinguistic projects on the pronunciation system of the Scottish/English Border Area and the city of Edinburgh, and is currently working on a textbook of Older and Modern Scots. He is an internationally-recognized authority on Scots and Northern English dialects and the author of several seminal articles and monograph- length book chapters on sound change in English and Scots, on the geographical distribution of Scots dialects, and on Germanic vowel shifts, such as the English Great Vowel Shift and analogous processes in Dutch and German.
Recently, Paul has become interested in the question of the formation of Great Lakes English, and what groups played the largest role in this process. Courses he teaches include Structure of the English Language, Development of the English Language, American Dialects on the undergraduate, and Language, Dialects and Sociolinguistics, Old English and Middle English on the graduate level.
He is a graduate of the Residential College at the University of Michigan, and has taught at the Universities of Edinburgh (1980-84) and Glasgow (1984-85), the National University of Singapore (1985-87) and SUNY/Binghamton (1988-89) before coming to Western.


Present Professor, Western Michigan University

Curriculum Vitae

Research Interests

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  • Variation in North American English
  • Development of the English Language
  • Structure of the English Language
  • Reading as a Psycholinguistic Process
  • Thought and Writing
  • Language, Dialect and Sociolinguistics
  • Old English
  • Middle English
  • World Englishes

Articles (6)

Contributions to Books (8)

Reviews (6)