Stylization in humorous Tyneside English dialect fiction

Activity: Talks and presentationsConference presentations


Coupland (2001:345) defines stylization as “the knowing deployment of culturally familiar styles and identities that are marked as deviating from those predictably associated with the current speaking context”. In other words, it is when speakers put on a voice or use other ways of communicating which are knowingly exaggerated or artificial. Coupland further highlights that dialects are “particularly well configured for stylized performance” (2001:350) as they have strong associations with particular values and traits, e.g. socio-economic status, sophistication, trustworthiness, and friendliness.
Humorous dialect literature is a literary genre which employs non-standard spellings and syntax to capture features of non-standard varieties, such as phonology, morphology, word order and lexis and, indeed, humorous Tyneside English dialect fiction portrays a caricature (an exaggerated performance style) of Tyneside English (the variety of English spoken around Newcastle upon Tyne in Northeast England).
Finally, it has been agued (by Beal (2000) for Tyneside English) that this type of literature also helps the enregisterment of local varieties. However, the representation of the local dialects found in humorous dialect literature (such as Larn Yersel’ Geordie) are more often than not exaggerated performance styles. When this style then becomes enregistered as a representation of true or original local speech, the awareness of the exaggerated nature disappears and lay-folk believe that the representation found in this type of literature represents how people talk.
I first assess the stylized aspects of an example of Tyneside humorous dialect fiction, Larn Yersel’ Geordie, and utilise corpus data from the 1960s to show how the literature does not represent real speech. I conclude by discussing possible implications for the enregisterment of the Geordie dialect.
Event titleLangLing seminar
Event typeSeminar
LocationAalborg, DenmarkShow on map
Degree of RecognitionLocal


  • stylization
  • Tyneside English
  • dialect fiction