A regional analysis of contraction rate in written Standard American English

Jack Grieve

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The goal of this study is to determine if various measures of contraction rate are regionally patterned in written Standard American English. In order to answer this question, this study employs a corpus-based approach to data collection and a statistical approach to data analysis. Based on a spatial autocorrelation analysis of the values of eleven measures of contraction across a 25 million word corpus of letters to the editor representing the language of 200 cities from across the contiguous United States, two primary regional patterns were identified: easterners tend to produce relatively few standard contractions (not contraction,
verb contraction) compared to westerners, and northeasterners tend to
produce relatively few non-standard contractions (to contraction, non-standard not contraction) compared to southeasterners. These findings demonstrate that regional linguistic variation exists in written Standard American English and that regional linguistic variation is more common than is generally assumed.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)514–546
Number of pages33
JournalInternational Journal of Corpus Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • American English
  • contraction
  • regional dialects
  • spatial autocorrelation
  • written English
  • standard English


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