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Meet Dr. Stanley

In addition to growing succulents in his windowsill, making artisan bread, and practicing the organ, Dr. Joey Stanley teaches courses on sociolinguistics and variations in English at BYU.

Joey Stanley
Dr. Joey Stanley

Dr. Stanley has been teaching for the BYU Department of Linguistics for three years now and is loving the resources and time he has to pursue his interests in language. He earned his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Georgia, studying vowels in Cowlitz County, Washington (where his wife grew up) and discovered a fascinating connection between the history of the local lumbermills and changes in accents. Recently, he has been researching problems in sociolinguistic methods and writing about improved ways to analyze quantitative data. When he sees a problem in analyzing his own data, he finds a solution! Having completed the Linguistics Computing minor at BYU as an undergraduate, he’s always been interested in coding and crunching numbers.

Dr. Stanley has taught courses in sociolinguistics and linguistic methods, but he particularly enjoys teaching ELING 468, a course on worldwide variations of English. He loves how every class is about something new, whether it’s New England English, Wales English, or Australian English, and hopes that students will look beyond stereotypes to appreciate the rich diversity of English. “At the beginning of the semester, I ask my students to fill out a get-to-know-you survey, and one of the things I ask them is, ‘do you have an accent?’” he explains. “And about half the students usually say no, they don’t have an accent. [One student] said she was born and raised in Utah, but she doesn’t speak Utah English. And I was like, ‘What do you speak if not Utah English? Do you speak North Dakota English?’”

He enjoys teaching what he calls the “juicy sociolinguistic stuff,” attitudes and ideologies we have about accents and dialects. For example, other linguists have found that the way some people in Utah say the word mountain has become stigmatized. Most people in North America also pronounce it with a [ʔ] (glottal stop), a lot of people from Utah deliberately pronounce it with a [t] sound “because [they] don’t want to sound like [they’re] from Utah.” In a bit of irony, it’s only in Utah that you get this hypercorrection. In other words, Utahns sound especially Utahn when they try to avoid sounding Utahn.

Dr. Stanley is looking forward to when he gets to dig into a set of large data, 750 cassette tapes of stories told by grandparents in Heber Valley, Utah. It’s an overwhelming but fascinating project. If you’re interested in transcription, rural Utah English, or sociolinguistics, reach out to Joey and get involved!