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Northern English Dialects: A perceptual approach

By Chris Montgomery


Perceptual dialectology has the capacity to deliver a great many benefits to the study of language varieties. It also allows examination of the underlying factors in dialect use such as the ‘beliefs, attitudes and strategies’ (Preston, 1999: xxiii) which make up language users’ reactions to language varieties. In this way it has the potential to ask questions of identity and explore the reasons for dialect loyalty as well as complementing other research in the field of language variation and change.\ud \ud Using a perceptual framework, this research investigates the relationship between the north and south of England and gains access to some of the key concepts which affect informants’ view of this important social, cultural and historical relationship. Perceptions of salient dialect areas are also assessed using informants from three locations in the north of England via the completion of a draw-a-map task (Preston, 1999: xxxiv). Many of the factors which impact on the perception of dialect areas are discussed, with phenomena of proximity and cultural salience demonstrating an important role. An analysis of informants’ reactions to voice samples from across England is also undertaken using methods adapted from the fields of linguistics (Embleton & Wheeler, 1997, Giles & Powesland, 1975, Niedzielski & Preston, 2003) as well perceptual geography (Pocock, 1972). The link between map-based perception and reaction to voice samples is examined, with interesting conclusions. \ud \ud Four key research questions are addressed:\ud \ud 1. Do respondents have a linguistic ‘cognitive map’ of a north of England, and do respondents recognise there to be internal boundaries within ‘their’ north of England?\ud 2. Does home-town location of informants affect the perception of dialect area? \ud 3. What are informants’ perceptions of the language varieties in the north of England?\ud 4. Is there a relationship between perception and ‘reality’ (production), and can respondents recognise the varieties they have identified?\ud \ud These questions will be addressed using the methods described above and the results accounted for through comparison with a wide range of previous studies in the fields of dialectology (Trudgill, 1999, Upton, Sanderson & Widdowson, 1987, Wells, 1982), social and cultural history (Wales, 2006), perceptual dialectology (Long & Preston, 2002), sociolinguistics (Giles & Powesland, 1975) and perceptual geography (Gould & White, 1986)

Publisher: School of English (Sheffield)
Year: 2007
OAI identifier:

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