Sunday, December 08, 2013

Put up or shut up


We're all aware that people from the different regions around the UK tend to use certain words and meanings, pronunciation and even grammatical structures in different ways: that's a basic principle of geographical variation and has its roots in the history of Britain. But a new study at the University of Manchester has identified some interesting trends which suggest that some regional variations - particularly in word choice (lexis) - might be disappearing as southern terms spread north.

I'd call them Vans, myself
The research is reported on in the Daily Telegraph and the Mail Online, but if you want the real detail and a full look at the language maps that have been created by Laurel Mackenzie and her team at Manchester, go straight to the Multilingual Manchester website. Here you can look at the questions that were asked of the 1400 respondents throughout the UK: questions such as "What word would you use to describe the footwear featured in this picture?". The most popular answer for this question is pumps, followed in descending order of popularity by plimsolls, trainers, daps and shoes. With many of the other questions, the results can be compared with previous research findings, allowing a diachronic study (i.e. a study over time) to be made.

Interestingly, some of the questions also assess attitudes to what is standard and non-standard, asking respondents to say whether they think expressions such as "Give it me" or "I done it" are acceptable.

We'll be looking at this whole area in more detail when we go back to ENGA3 and Language Variation and Discourses after Christmas.

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