Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston

Paul Johnston
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Dr. Paul Johnston

Sociolinguistics; Dialectology; and Historical Linguistics

Mailing address

Department of English
Western Michigan University
1903 W Michigan Ave
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331

Office: (269) 387-2618


915 Sprau Tower


Ph.D., University of Edinburgh.


Paul Johnston is a dialectologist, sociolinguist and historical linguist interested in how language variation interplays with social groupings (class, gender, age, ethnicity) in different periods of the history of English and Germanic as a whole. He has done two full-scale sociolinguistic projects on the pronunciation system of the Scottish/English Border Area and the city of Edinburgh, and is currently working on a book-length analysis of variation in the language of the York Miracle Plays.

He is an internationally-recognized authority on Scots and Northern English dialects and the author of several seminal articles and monograph- length book chapters on sound change in English and Scots, on the geographical distribution of Scots dialects, and on Germanic vowel shifts, such as the English Great Vowel Shift and analogous processes in Dutch and German.

Recently, Paul has become interested in the question of the formation of Great Lakes English, and what groups played the largest role in this process. Courses he teaches include Structure of the English Language, Development of the English Language, American Dialects on the undergraduate, and Language, Dialects and Sociolinguistics, Old English and Middle English on the graduate level.   He is also researching the role of varying extents of dialect contact in the formation of  several British modern urban vernaculars.

He is a graduate of the Residential College at the University of Michigan, and has taught at the Universities of Edinburgh (1980-84) and Glasgow (1984-85), the National University of Singapore (1985-87) and SUNY/Binghamton (1988-89) before coming to WMU.


Department of English
6th floor Sprau Tower
Western Michigan University
Kalamazoo MI 49008-5331 USA
(269) 387-2572 | (269) 387-2562 Fax