Western American English

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Western American English (also known as Western U.S. English or in the U.S., simply, Western) is a variety of American English that largely unites the entire western half of the United States as a single dialect region, including the states of California, Nevada, Arizona, Utah, New Mexico, Colorado, and Wyoming. It also broadly encompasses Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana, some of whose speakers are often separated into their own Pacific Northwest variety. The West was the last area in the United States to be reached during the gradual westward expansion of English-speaking settlement and its history shows considerable mixing of the linguistic patterns of other regions. As the settlement populations are relatively young when compared with other regions, the American West is a dialect region in formation.[1] Due to its origins, Western U.S. English has more similarities than differences with the English of the Northeastern U.S., and very few similarities with Southern U.S. English.[2]


  • baby buggy as opposed to baby carriage (more common east of the Mississippi River, mixed in the region between the Mississippi and Appalachian Mountains, rare east of the Appalachians)[3]
  • buckaroo: cowboy. Originating in California, it is an Anglicization of the Mexican vaquero; the corresponding term which originated in Texas is "wrangler" or "horse wrangler", itself an Anglicization of the Mexican caballerango.[4]
  • gunnysack as opposed to burlap bag (the latter more common east of the Mississippi)[3]
  • hella: adverb; very, adjective; much many
  • mud hen: a common term for the American coot[3]
  • shivaree as opposed to belling or serenade ("shivaree" is the more common usage east of the Mississippi and in Kentucky and Tennessee; "belling" is the more common usage in Ohio, while "serenade" is the more common usage in Atlantic states—except New York and Connecticut—and the Appalachians)[3]

Phonology and phonetics

Western American English IPA chart.

The Western dialect of American English is somewhat variable and not clearly distinct from general Canadian, General American, or Midland American English. Like most Canadian dialects and younger General American, /ɑ/ allophones remain back and may be either rounded or unrounded due to a merger between /ɒ/ and /ɔː/ (commonly represented in conservative General American, respectively, as [ɑ] and [ɒ]), so that words like cot and caught, or pod and pawed, are perfect homophones (except in San Francisco).[5] In the West, there is less Canadian raising of the // diphthong than in Canada, and yet fairly common Canadian raising of the // diphthong.[6] A significant minority of Western speakers have the pin–pen merger or a closeness to the merger, which is commonly associated with the Southern dialects.[7]

Local dialects


  1. Busby, M. (2004). The Southwest. The Greenwood encyclopedia of American regional cultures. Greenwood Press. pp. 270–271. ISBN 978-0-313-32805-3. Retrieved August 29, 2014.CS1 maint: ref=harv (link)<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Hopkins, Tometro; Kendall Decker; and John McKenny (eds.) (2013). World Englishes Volumes I-III Set: Volume I: The British Isles Volume II: North America Volume III: Central America. Bloomsbury Publishing. p. 173.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 Craig M. Carver, American Regional Dialects: A Word Geography (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan, 1987), pp. 206f
  4. Carver, American Regional Dialects, p. 223
  5. Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006:279)
  6. Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006:206)
  7. Labov, Ash & Boberg (2006:68)
  • Labov, William; Ash, Sharon; Boberg, Charles (2006), The Atlas of North American English, Berlin: Mouton-de Gruyter, pp. 187–208, ISBN 3-11-016746-8<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links