Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy



Major Professor

Harold Orton

Committee Members

Nathalia Wright, Bain Tate Stewart, Allen Yeomans


Cades Cove is the largest pastoral region in the Great Smoky Mountains. Surrounded on all sides by formidable ridges, the Cove remained isolated from the outside world for over a century. Inhabitated by a rugged group of settlers who came from farther north in the early nineteenth century, the Cove was home for a thriving and homogeneous culture until the 1940's, when the last residents were forced to leave in order that the National Park be established.

Two significant factors influenced the undertaking of this investigation of Cades Cove Regional English: first, the absence of comprehensive, accurate, and comparable linguistic data for the South, especially the Southern mountains; second, the fact that Cades Cove speakers, untutored and isolated during a period in which this country witnessed tremendous growth and industrialization, represent many survival forms of the English language. Furthermore, the timely and carefully-wrought formulation of "Questionnaire for the Investigation of American Regional English: Based on the Work Sheets of the Linguistic Atlas of the United States and Canada" by Harold Orton and Nathalia Wright allows for uniform elicitations and collation of mountain dialect, comparable with other regional surveys based on the LAUSC.

Cades Cover Regional English is characterized by a fairly persistent pattern of vowel fluctuation--front vowels tending primarily to be raised; back vowels tending primarily to be lowered; both front and back vowels tending to be centralized--and by the diphthonging of short vowels, particularly under stress. The dialect is further characterized by survival forms of grammar and vocabulary.

The present investigation was designed and completed as preliminary methodology and research for further investigation of Southern Mountain speech based on the Orton-Wright Questionnaire. It is, furthermore, a sampling investigation of Tennessee Regional English comparable with completed and current surveys based on the Work Sheets for other regions of the country.

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