Indexing Political Persuasion: Variation in the Iraq Vowels

L. Hall-Lew, Elizabeth Coppock, Rebecca L. Starr

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


To determine whether phonological variables are a potential resource for the expression of political identity, this article examines the second vowel of Iraq. In addition to being part of a politically significant place-name, Iraq is particularly well-suited to index political identity due in part to the ideological association between the “foreign (a)” variable with correctness and educatedness in U.S. English (Boberg 1997). Specifically, Iraq's second vowel appears to index political conservatism when produced as /æ/ and political liberalism when produced as /a:/. Results from an analysis of the U.S. House of Representatives show that Republicans are significantly more likely than Democrats to use /æ/, even controlling for regional accent.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)91-102
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Speech: A Quarterly of Linguistic Usage
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2010


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