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Directions of change in Cardiff English: Levelling, standardisation, or drift?

Campbell, Rowan Hope 2021. Directions of change in Cardiff English: Levelling, standardisation, or drift? PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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This thesis investigates language change in Cardiff English (CE) by analysing four sociolinguistic variables – (there + BE), (ing), (a) and word-final (t). These variables were chosen to address whether change over time in CE should be considered dialect levelling, standardisation or drift. The data comprises interviews with older and younger speakers conducted in 2017-2018. This apparent-time methodology is supplemented by real-time data from the St Fagans Sound Archive. The analysis fits within a variationist sociolinguistics framework, and mixed-effects models test statistical significance. Results for (there + BE) show no significant change over time but indicate the near completion of a process of gradual drift towards grammaticalised there’s. The (ing) variable, in line with other studies (e.g. Labov 2001), is shown to be a stable, age-graded feature, and results do not suggest that younger speakers are ‘standardising’ by using more of the standard variant than their older counterparts. In contrast, the low (a) monophthong seems to be moving backwards in the vowel space for the BATH and PALM/START lexical sets, a move that could indicate dialect levelling or standardisation, as both ‘directions of change’ would result in back [ɑː] realisations instead of the front CE variants. For (t), the glottal variant has almost completely replaced standard [t] amongst younger speakers, but their use of local variants remains relatively robust and does not appear to be at risk from the glottal as a levelling feature. The discussion of these results problematises the dichotomous categories used in variationist sociolinguistics, and proposes adopting from other disciplines a conceptualisation for language change that is more suited to the complexities of our current era of late modernity: polyphonic assemblage. Thus, the thesis not only contributes contemporary analyses of CE using advanced statistical methods, but also extends current discussion by offering a means of managing some of the difficulties inherent in studying language change.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Date Type: Completion
Status: Unpublished
Schools: English, Communication and Philosophy
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English
Funders: ESRC
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 June 2021
Last Modified: 27 Sep 2022 01:20

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