The UW researchers said people living in Alaska’s Matanuska and Susitna valleys, where Wasilla is located, are largely descendants of farmers who moved there in the 1930s from the Upper Midwest. More than 200 farm families moved to the Wasilla area in 1935 as part of a government program to start a new farming community.

“Everybody’s ear was basically right, but there’s a little complexity there that you don’t get until you go through and hack through it systematically,” said Joe Salmons, director of UW’s Center for the Study of Upper Midwestern Cultures. He wrote the paper along with UW linguistics professors Thomas Purnell and Eric Raimy after they parsed the 7,640 words Palin spoke during the 2008 vice presidential debate…

They found that she dropped the -ing at the end of words nearly 12 percent of the time, said the words “darn” and heck” two times each, referred to her grandmother as “gramma” and offered a “shout out” to a third-grade class in Alaska.

That type of informal speech is jarring to listeners attuned to hearing formal political talk and led many to question whether Palin was doing it for effect, Purnell said.