Allison Burkette, Lamont Antieau

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This article discusses the linguistic, social, and geographic distribution of a-prefixing data in the Linguistic Atlas Project (LAP) of North America. Over 3,800 instances of the a-prefix were extracted for analysis from the LAP interview data of 1,527 speakers from across the United States, collected between 1931 and 2006. While the LAP a-prefix data do not generally deviate from patterns observed in the sociolinguistic literature, they do offer a more nuanced picture of infrequent prefixed forms, including uncommon constructions and verbs that appear as a-prefixed forms less frequently. A-prefixers in LAP tended to be White men, although it should be noted that 30–47% of the female speakers in four of the surveyed LAP projects also used this feature. The geographic distribution of the feature suggests that the a-prefix is not Southern so much as it is Eastern, with pockets of lesser and greater usage as one moves westward across the country. Additionally, the data cast the a-prefix as a rural phenomenon, rather than as a strictly Southern one, which opens the door to discussions of the feature as a means of indexing participation in (or affinity for) a rural lifestyle. Overall, this article demonstrates that LAP data are a tremendous resource and a key piece of the puzzle of understanding regional and social variation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)167-196
Number of pages30
JournalAmerican Speech
Issue number2
StatePublished - May 1 2022

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright 2022 by the American Dialect Society.


  • American English
  • Linguistic Atlas
  • a-prefixing
  • dialect geography

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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