Two directions of change in one corpus: Phonology vs morphosyntax in Tyneside English

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    Cheshire et al. (2005) argue that different levels of language do not necessarily follow the same patterns of change over time. In an attempt to test this prediction, this article reports on a comparison between two quantitative corpus studies of Tyneside English which are partly based on the same data. The first study was carried out by Watt and investigated levelling in the phonological variables in the FACE and GOAT lexical set (Watt 2002) based on data collected in 1994. Watt found that speakers were abandoning broad local vernacular variants in favour of more regional or generally Northern forms. The second study was a study of seven morphosyntactic variables based on data collected in the 1960s, 1994 and 2007-2009. This study found that the variables under investigation were either stable over time or used more frequently in the most recent data. Thus, the comparison of the two studies shows support for Cheshire et al. (2005). This difference in the direction of change is explained by socio-psychological processes linking linguistic forms, the local Tyneside area and speaker identity. More specifically, it is argued that speakers imbue local vernacular variants with social meaning (Podesva 2006). This means that speakers create a social index (Silverstein 2003) which links linguistic forms and additional non-denotational meanings through processes of enregisterment (Agha 2003). This allows speakers to express an affiliation with their local area and all that it represents to them at a time when this area is undergoing vast changes.
    TidsskriftGlobe: A Journal of Language, Culture and Communication
    Udgave nummer1
    Sider (fra-til)43-71
    StatusUdgivet - 2015


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