The Chicagoland Language Project

About Us

What is the Chicagoland Language Project?

The Chicagoland Language Project seeks to systematically document the diversity of language and life across the city of Chicago. In order to systematically investigate the region, we choose specific areas to examine every few years. Our first area is the South Side area. 

In linguistics, Chicago remains a largely unstudied region of the US. We will be documenting how Chicagoland locals from all walks of life show differences in their speech and attitudes toward language, and how this relates to differences in demographics and identities. We learn about each neighborhood and the way its locals speak by conducting interviews with lifelong residents of the area. We’re interested in people’s experiences, and their thoughts about Chicago.

Who are we?

We’re a team of researchers from the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago, led by Professor Sharese King. We collaborate with a team  in the Department of Linguistics at Northwestern University, led by Professor Annette D’Onofrio. Our project is funded through the NSF. As sociolinguists, we’re interested in how language can vary, and how it’s used in social practice. The Chicagoland Language Project allows us to learn how differences in people’s speech correspond to what social groups they belong to, the ways they view the world, and their identities.

Why the South Side?

Every 3-4 years we will focus on a different area of Chicago. We are starting off this project with the South Side area, due to its long history as a center of African-American life and culture following the Great Migration. We’re interested in learning about the experiences of Chicagoans who grew up in and/or currently live on the South Side, especially life-long residents of the area.

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