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LVC talk: Helen Faye West (University of Chester) Language attitudes and divergence on the Merseyside/Lancashire border

Date: 11 December 2013 Time: 5.00 - 6.00 pm

Venue: B89 County South

The Language Variation and Change Research Group are delighted to announce that Helen Faye West (University of Chester) will be giving a talk on Language attitudes and divergence on the Merseyside/Lancashire border on Wednesday 11th December 2013 at 5pm in *B89* County South. All staff and students are welcome to attend! See below for an abstract for the talk.

Helen Faye West (University of Chester) Language attitudes and divergence on the Merseyside/Lancashire border

Recent sociolinguistic studies have argued that speaker identity is accentuated in border regions due to speakers' desire to project a strong sense of identity (Llamas 2007; 2010; Beal 2010, Britain 2010). Llamas et al. (ongoing) show the possible effect of national political affiliation on linguistic output, observing that linguistic diversity along the Scottish/English border appears to be increasing in some areas in a way that coincides with heightened speaker attitudes in relation to the nearby boundary.In the light of these findings, increased attention has been paid to urban zones which are geographically either next to perceptual and/or physical boundaries or within areas which have undergone a political boundary change. Following the provisions of the Local Government Act 1972, the creation of the administrative county of Merseyside provides us with fertile ground for the study of the relationship between language variation and regional identity. Although Liverpool sits at the heart of the administrative county and the wider region, Merseyside and its immediate environs are a diverse mix of the urban, suburban and rural with quite different social, industrial and economic histories. In particular, the town of Southport, situated seventeen miles north of Liverpool, are often positioned by both residents of Liverpool and the towns themselves as quite distinct entities from the urban centre of the administrative county, despite both having been included within the borders of Merseyside from its inception (West 2013). These locations, peripheral to the urban core of the region, provide us with the opportunity to examine the interplay of language variation, speaker identity and the subsequent direction of linguistic change.This paper investigates the diffusion of fronted Liverpool NURSE (Wells 1982), in Southport (Merseyside) and Ormskirk (South Lancashire, 13 miles north-east of Liverpool) demonstrating that, in comparison to Ormskirk, despite the administrative and socioeconomic links with Liverpool, the Liverpool accent is not spreading to Southport as might be hypothesised by existing models of the diffusion of linguistic change. I explore possible explanations for this variation between these locations with particular reference to speaker attitude in relation to the negative perception of the Liverpool accent (Montgomery 2007).

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Who can attend: Anyone


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Organising departments and research centres: Language Variation and Change, Linguistics and English Language


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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
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