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Walter Wolfram


Department of English

Tompkins Hall 208

View CV 


Walt Wolfram is William C. Friday Distinguished University Professor at North Carolina State University, where he also directs the North Carolina Language and Life Project. He has pioneered research on social and ethnic dialects since the 1960s and published 24 books, 8 edited collections, and more than 300 articles. Over the last two decades, he and his students have conducted more than 3,500 sociolinguistic interviews with residents of North Carolina and beyond, primarily under funding from the National Science Foundation. In addition to his research interests, Professor Wolfram is particularly interested in the application of sociolinguistic information to the public, as executive producer of 15 television documentaries, the construction of 6 museum exhibits, and the development of innovative formal and informal materials related to language diversity. He has received two Emmy awards for documentaries, and has received numerous awards, including the North Carolina Award (the highest award given to a citizen of North Carolina), Caldwell Humanities Laureate from the NC Humanities Council, the Holladay Medal at NC State, and the Linguistics, Language and the Public Award from the Linguistic Society of America. He has served as President of the Linguistic Society of America, the American Dialect Society, and the Southeastern Conference on Linguistics, and has been inducted into the prestigious American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Office Hours

  • Mon: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
  • Wed: 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Or By Appointment


Research Publications


Kohn, Mary, Walt Wolfram, Charles Farrington, Janneke van Hofwegen,& Jennifer Renn. (2021). African American Language: Development from Infancy to Adulthood. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Reaser, Jeffrey, Carolyn Adger, Walt Wolfram, and Donna Christian. (2017) Dialects at School: Educating Linguistically Diverse Students. New York: Routledge. Pp. 292.

Wolfram, Walt and Natalie Schilling. 2016. American English: Dialects and Variation. Third edition. Cambridge/Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell. Pp. 436

Wolfram, Walt and Jeffrey Reaser. 2014. Talkin’ Tar Heel: Voices of North Carolina. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. Pp. 331.

Books Edited

Wolfram, Walt, Anne Charity Hudley, and Guadelupe Valdez (Eds.). 2023. Language and Social Justice in the U.S. Daedalus. American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Boston, Massachusetts.

Myrick, Caroline and Walt Wolfram (eds.) forthcoming, 2019. The Five-Minute Linguist. 3rd Edition. Sheffield (England): Equinox. 

Reaser, Jeffrey, Eric Wilbanks, Karissa Wojcek, and Walt Wolfram (eds.). 2018. Language Variety in the New South: Contemporary Perspectives on Change and Variation. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press.



 Wolfram, Walt (forthcoming 2023) “A Q & A with Walt Wolfram on Sociolinguistic Outreach,” in Daniel Schreier, English Sociolinguistics. Cambridge University Press.

 Wolfram, Walt. Forthcoming. Variation in American English. In Encyclopedia of World Englishes. Oxford/New York: John Wiley and Sons.

Wolfram, Walt. Forthcoming. Language change in the United States. In Raymond Hickey, Natalie Schilling, and Derek Dennis (eds.), in New Cambridge History of the English Language. Cambridge University Press.

Bissell, Marie, José Álvarez-Retamales, Matthew Champagne,  Jessica Hatcher, Shalina Omar and Walt Wolfram. (forthcoming) In Christine Mallinson and Anne Charity Hudley (eds.) Linguistic Literacy and Advocacy in Action: Case Studies in Community Engagement. Oxford: Oxford University Press.


Wolfram, Walt (2023. Sociolinguistic Impact in U.S.: The First 50 Years:  Language and Linguistic Compass. Vol. 17, No. 4:1-15. DOI: 10.1111/lnc3.1248

Wolfram, Walt. (forthcoming 2023) Addressing language inequality in higher education: A proactive program. In Walt Wolfram, Anne Charity Hudley, and Guadalupe Valdez (eds.), Language and Social Justice in the United States. Daedalus (Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences). Boston, MA.

Wolfram, Walt, Anne H. Charity Hudley, and Guadalupe Valedez. (forthcoming 2023 Spring) “Language and Social Justice in the USA: Introduction.” In Language and Social Justice in the USA. Daedalus. Journal of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences). Boston, MA.


Bissell, Marie and Walt Wolfram. 2022. Back-vowel fronting and oppositional identity in a tri-ethnic context: The case of Lumbee English. American Speech 97 (1): 51-67. doi 10.1215/00031283-9116251

 Martin, Stefan and Walt Wolfram (2022) The Sentence in African American English, In Salikoko S. Mufwene, John R. Rickford, Guy Bailey, and John Baugh (eds), African-American English Structure, History, and Use, Classic Edition. New York: Routledge, 11-40.

Digital Essays

Dialect Change in North Carolina: Dialect Quiz and Commentary. Accolades (Digital CHASS Magazine)

 Wolfram, Walt 2022. Word of the Month: boot Language and Life Project.

Wolfram, Walt 2022. Word of the Month: June: dingbatter Language and Life Project.




Wolfram, Walt and Stephanie Dunstan. 2021. Linguistic Inequality and Sociolinguistic Justice in Campus Life: The Need for Programmatic Intervention. In Gaillynn Clements and Marnie Jo Petray (eds.), Linguistic Discrimination in U.S. Higher Education: Power, Prejudice, Impacts, and Remedies. New York: Routledge, 156-173.

Wolfram, Walt. 2021. Sociolinguistic Variation and the Public Interest. Cadernos de Linguistica 2(1):1-25.  doi: 10.25189/2675-4916.2021.v2.n1.id357

Wolfram, Walt. 2021. Remembering Ron Butters: American Speech and ADS. American Speech 96(3): 265-66, doi 10.1215/00031283-0000000


Wolfram, Walt. 2020. Afterward: Reflections on the Study of Appalachian English. In Kirk Hazen (ed). Appalachian Englishes in the Twenty-First Century. Morgantown: West Virginia University Press, 177-192.

Smith, Alison, Walt Wolfram, and Danica Cullinan. 2020. Signing Black in America: The Story of Black American Sign Language. American Speech 95: 19-27.

Wolfram, Walt. 2020. Talkin’ Tar Heel; The linguistic legacy of North Carolina. The Standard (The Farmville Enterprise), January 22, 2020

Wolfram, Walt and Karen Eisenhauer. 2020. Implicit bias and sociolinguistic justice. In Renee Blake and Isa Buchstaller (eds), The Routledge Companion to the Work of John Rickford. New York: Routledge, pp.269-280.

Digital articles:

Smith, Alison, Walt Wolfram, and Danica Cullinan. 2020. Viewer’s Guide: Signing Black in America.


Wolfram, Walt and Karen Eisenhauer. 2019. Implicit bias and sociolinguistic justice. In Renee Blake and Isa Buchstaller (eds), The Routledge Companion to the Work of John Rickford. New York: Routledge, pp.269-280.

Wolfram, Walt. 2019. African-American English. In Cecil Nelson, Zoya Proshina, and Daniel Davis (eds.), Handbook of World Englishes, 2nd edition. Oxford: Wiley/Blackwell, pp. 314-30.

Forrest, Jon and Walt Wolfram. 2019. The status of (ING) in African American Language: A quantitative analysis of social factors and internal constraints. (Special Issue: Tyler Kendall and Charlie Farrington (eds.), Exploring African American Language in the Nation’s Capital: Studies with the Corpus of Regional African American Language). American Speech 94(1):72-90.

Wolfram, Walt and Jon Forrest. 2019. Dialects and dialectology. In Jack K. Damico and Martin J. Ball (eds.) The Sage Encyclopedia of Human Communication Sciences and Disorders. New York: Sage Publications, 593-597.

Wolfram, Walt and KellyNoel Waldorf. 2019. Talking Black in America: The role of the documentary in public education. English Today 35(1):3-13.

Wolfram, Walt. 2019. “Speaking of Linguistics.” In Shahazrad Mahootian, Judith Kaplan-Weinger, Lewis Gebhardt, and Richard W. Hallett, Language and Human Behavior: An Introduction to Topics in Linguistics. Dubuque, IA. Kendall Hunt, pp 65-67.

Myrick, Caroline and Walt Wolfram. 2019. Introduction. In Caroline Myrick and Walt Wolfram (eds.) The Five-Minute Linguist. London: Equinox. pp 1-4.

Wolfram, Walt. 2019. Are American dialects dying? In Caroline Myrick and Walt Wolfram (eds.), The 5 Minute Linguist: Bite-Sized Essays on Language and Linguistics. London: Equinox. 241-244.

Wolfram, Walt. 2019. What is speaking in tongues? In Caroline Myrick and Walt Wolfram (eds.), The 5 -Minute Linguist: Bite-Sized Essay on Language and Linguistics. London: Equinox. 74-77.

Wolfram, Walt. 2019 Language awareness in education: A linguist’s response. In Michelle D. Devereaux and Chris C. Palmer (eds.), Teaching Language Variation in the Classroom: Strategies and Models from Teachers and Linguists. New York: Routledge, pp. 61-66.


Wolfram, Walt. 2018. Changing ethnolinguistic perceptions in the American South. American Speech 93:344-373.

Stephany Brett Dunstan, Amanda Eads, Audrey Jaeger and Walt Wolfram. 2018. The Importance of Graduate Student Engagement in a Campus Language Diversity Initiative. Journal of English Linguistics

Wolfram, Walt. 2018. Foreword to Thomas Nunnally (ed.). Speaking of Alabama: The History, Diversity, Function, and Change of Language. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, xi-xvi.

 Wolfram, Walt, Danica Cullinan, and Neal Hutcheson. 2018. Negotiating language presentation: Linguists, communities, and producers. In Jeffrey Reaser, Eric Wilbanks, Karissa Wojcek, and Walt Wolfram (eds.), Language Variety in the South IV: The New South. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 358-374.

Wolfram, Walt. 2018) On the (in)significance of facts in sociolinguistic engagement. Language in Society 47(3):374-377.

Digital articles:

Wolfram, Walt. 2018. “6 Expressions Say it all: Language variation in the Tar Heel State. NC Knowledge Lists. NC State News tps:// June, 2018

Wolfram, Walt. (2018) “Voices of North Carolina.” Accolades: Digital Magazine of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University (


Wolfram, Walt and Caroline Myrick. 2017. Linguistic commonality in the English of the African Diaspora: Evidence from lesser-known varieties of English. In Language Contact in Africa and the African Diaspora in the Americas. In honor of John V. Singler, by Cutler, Cecelia, Zvjezdana Vrzić and Philipp Angermeyer (eds.) [CLL 53]. Philadelphia: John Benjamins. Pp. 142-75.

Van Hofwegen, Janneke and Walt Wolfram. 2017. On the utility of composite indices in longitudinal language study. In Suzanne Evans Wagner and Isabelle Buchstaller (eds.), Panel Studies of Variation and Change. Routledge Studies in Language Change Series. London: Routledge, Pp. 93-120.


Wolfram, Walt, Caroline Myrick, Michael J. Fox, and Jon Forrest). 2016. Linguistic variation in the speeches of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. American Speech 9:269-300.

Kendall, Tyler, and Walt Wolfram. 2016. Engagement through data management and preservation: The North Carolina Language and Life Project and the Sociolinguistic Archive and Analysis Project. In Karen Corrigan and Adam Mearns (eds.), Creating and Digitizing Language Corpora, Volume 3: Databases for Public Engagement. Basingstoke, UK: Palgrave Macmillan, 133-157.

Wolfram, Walt. 2016. Public sociolinguistic education in the United States: A proactive, comprehensive program. In Robert Lawson and Dave Sayers (eds.) Sociolinguistic Research: Impact and Application. New York: Routledge, 88-107.

Wolfram, Walt. 2016. “Hoi Toid on the Outer Banks” Tar Heel Jr. Historian (Spring 2016): 10-11,21. 

Digital Article:

“Celebrating the Sociolinguistic Significance of Martin Luther King, Jr.” Language Log (1500 words). January 18, 2016.


Wolfram, Walt and Mary E. Kohn. 2015. The regional development of African American English. In Sonja Lanehart (ed.), The Oxford Handbook on African American Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 140-59.

Wolfram, Walt. 2015. The Sociolinguistic construction of African American Language. In Sonja Lanehart (ed.), The Oxford Handbook on African American Language. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 338-52.

Wolfram, Walt. 2015. Conclusion: Perspective, achievements, and remaining challenges. In Michael D. Picone and Catherine Evans Davies (eds.), New Perspectives on Language Variety in the South: Historical and Contemporary Approaches, ed. by Michael D. Picone and Catherine Evans Davies. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 748-70.

Wolfram, Walt. 2015. Sociolinguistic engagement in community perspective. In Michael D. Picone and Catherine Evans Davies (eds.), New Perspectives on Language Variety in the South: Historical and Contemporary Approaches, ed. by Michael D. Picone and Catherine Evans Davies. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. 715-30.

Review of Michael Ellis, North Carolina English, 1861-1865: A Guide and Glossary (University of Tennessee Press, 2013). In North Carolina Historical Review. January, 2015, Issue: Raleigh: NC Publishing Office.

Dunstan, Stephany Brett, Walt Wolfram, and Audrey J. Jaeger, and Rebecca E. Crandall. 2015. Educating the educated: Language diversity in the university backyard. American Speech 90: 266-80.


Wolfram, Walt. 2014. Vernacular dialects of English. In Marianna Di Paolo and Arthur K. Spears (eds.), Language and Dialects in the U.S. Focus on Diversity and Linguistics. New York: Routledge. 85-100.

____. 2014. Integrating language variation into TESOL: Challenges from English globalization. In Ahmar Mahboob and Lestlie Barratt (eds.), Englishes in Multilingual Contexts: Language Variation and Education. London: Springer. Pp. 15-31.

Wolfram, Walt, Jaclyn Daugherty, and Danica Cullinan. 2014, On the (In)Significance of English language variation: Cherokee English and Lumbee English in comparative perspective. University of Pennsylvania Working Papers in Linguistics 20.2 (Selected Papers from NWAV 42). Article 22:197-208.


Wolfram, Walt. 2013. Language awareness in community perspective: Obligations and opportunity. In Robert Bayley, Richard Cameron, and Ceil Lucas (eds.), Handbook of Sociolinguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Pp. 754-72.

 ____. 2013. The dynamic development of socioethnic varieties of English in North America. In Dani Schreier and Marianna Hundt (eds.), English as a Contact Language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Pp. 106-130.

____. 2013. How to uncover linguistic variables. In Christine Mallinson, Becky Childs, and Gerard Van Herk (eds.), Data Collection in Sociolinguistics. New York: Routledge. Pp.21-24.

____. 2013. African American Speech in Southern Appalachia. In Nancy Hayward and Amy Clark (eds.), Talking Appalachian: Voice, Identity, and Community. Lexington: University of Kentucky Press. Pp. 81-93.

____. 2013. Foreword: African American, Creole, and Other Englishes in Education (ed. John Rickford, Julie Sweetland, Angela Rickford, and Thomas Grano). New York: Routledge and NCTE. Pp. vii-x.

____. 2013. Sound effects: Challenging language prejudice in the classroom. Teaching Tolerance 43 (Spring 2013):29-31.

____. 2013. Community commitment and social responsibility. In JK Chambers and Natalie Schilling (eds.), Handbook of Language Variation and Change, 2nd edn. Malden/Cambridge: Wiley/Blackwell. Pp. 557-76.


Wolfram, Walt. 2012. Connecting with the public. In the Profession.  Journal of English Linguistics 40:111-17.

Wolfram, Walt. 2012. What is ‘speaking in tongues’? In E.M. Rickerson and Barry Hilton (eds.). The 5-Minute Linguist: Bite-sized Essays on Language and Linguistics. Second edition. Bristol: Equinox. 106-09.

Wolfram, Walt. 2012. Why do American Southerners talk that way? In E.M. Rickerson and Barry Hilton (eds.). The 5-Minute Linguist: Bite-sized Essays on Language and Linguistics. Second edition. Bristol: Equinox. 132-35.

Wolfram, Walt. 2012. Are dialects dying? In E.M. Rickerson and Barry Hilton (eds.). The 5-Minute Linguist: Bite-sized Essays on Language and Linguistics. Second edition. Bristol: Equinox. 196-99.


Wolfram, Walt, Mary Kohn, and Erin Callahan-Price. 2011. Southern-bred Hispanic English: An emerging variety. In Jim Michnowicz and Robin Dodsworth (eds.), Cascadilla:Selected Proceedings of the 5th workshop on Spanish Sociolinguistics 5:1-13.

 Wolfram, Walt. 2011. The African American English canon in sociolinguistics. In Michael Adams and Anne Curzan (eds.), Contours of English and English Language Studies. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press. 34-52.

Pick, Hannah, Walt Wolfram, and Jacqueline Lopez. 2011. Indigenous-language students from Spanish-speaking countries: Educational approaches. Heritage Briefs. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. 1-4.

McGowan, Thomas, and Walt Wolfram. 2011. Neal Hutcheson: Maker of Documentaries on North Carolina Folklife and Language. North Carolina Folklore Journal 58(2):9-13

Wolfram, Walt 2011. Changing misconceptions about dialect diversity: The role of public education. CAL Digest. Washington, DC: Center for Applied Linguistics. 1-6 (February)

Wolfram, Walt. 2011. Field methods. In Ruth Wodak, Barbara Johnstone, and Paul Kerswill (eds.), Handbook on Sociolinguistics. Sage Publications. 296-312.

Wolfram, Walt. 2011. Review of Nancy C. Dorian, Investigating variation: The effects of social organization and social settingLanguage 87:904-8.


Wolfram, Walt. 2010. Epilogue to Valuable Voices: Understanding English Language Variation in American Schools. New York: Columbia University Press. 151-52.

_____, 2010. Collaborative issues in language variation documentaries. Language and Linguistic Compass 4(9):293-303.

_____. 2010. Celebrating Linguistic Diversity. Wheaton Alumni Magazine Spring, p. 51.

Van Hofwegen, Janneke, and Walt Wolfram. 2010. Coming of age in African American English: A longitudinal study. Journal of Sociolinguistics 14:27-52. 


B.A. Anthropology (Greek) Wheaton College 1963

M.A. Linguistics Hartford Seminary Foundation 1966

Ph.D. Linguistics Hartford Seminary Foundation 1969