The foregrounding of place in Trainspotting: A discourse-stylistic analysis

Cassandra Herrmann, Marie Møller Jensen, Tine Myrup Thiesson

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    In this paper, we investigate how place is foregrounded through language in Irvine Welsh’s 1993 novel Trainspotting. We establish that many of the linguistic features which occur in the novel are associated with and represent Scots, a stigmatised language variety of Scotland. Drawing on Silverstein (2003), Johnstone (2009, 2010, 2013), and Eckert’s (2008) work on indexicality, we argue that these linguistic features in Trainspotting function as indexical markers connecting the characters and the novel to place, more specifically to Scotland. In the analysis, we explore three channels through which the foregrounding of place is evident. First, the foregrounding of place happens through the sheer volume of nonstandard English associated with Scots throughout the novel in that the extensive appearance of nonstandard English deviates from most novels, and in that the nonstandard variety indexes Scotland. Second, place becomes foregrounded through the discourse surrounding language in the novel; throughout the novel, several characters comment on their own styles of speech and linguistic abilities, which highlights the focus on language and directs the reader’s attention hereto. Finally, the foregrounding of place happens through the ideology that favours Standard English over nonstandard English. This channel of foregrounding appears through the characters’ ability or inability to style-shift between nonstandard English and Standard English, and the effects of the ability or inability to do so. We argue that the unique nature of the vernacular language used in Trainspotting emplaces the characters and novel solidly in Scotland through the indexical nature of language.
    TidsskriftGlobe: A Journal of Language, Culture and Communication
    Sider (fra-til)32-47
    StatusUdgivet - aug. 2017


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