The Folk Linguistics Online Mapping (FLOM) tool represents an advance in the collection of data for perceptual dialectology. The tool was developed by Betsy Evans with assistance from Matthew Dunbar, Assistant Director of the Center for Studies in Demography and Ecology, and LING and CDSE graduate students. Instead of drawing on paper maps, respondents can draw areas that they perceive as populated by people with a different way of speaking from their own. This digital tool allows for more systematic data collection and analysis, with the further advantage that the tool can be used online for non-local data collection, as has been done in New England in joint work by Evans’ students Ben Jones and Nicole Chartier (PhD 2020).
Evans has continued work on FLOM with the support of a 2020 grant from the Royalty Research Fund. In Autumn 2020, two undergraduates were recruited to assist with writing code, one of whom, Junyin Chen, has continued on the project and has been admitted to the CLMS program. Data collection in New England and Washington continued during summer 2021 and Junyin may use his work on FLOM to complete some of his CLMS requirements. The new FLOM tool will allow researchers to create inclusive survey questions. Like the previous version of this tool, it will be available free to researchers, removing key barriers to entry for scholars of this type of research.
Want to know more about FLOM? Check out this video.