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LVC talk: Eivind Torgersen (Trondheim) A reanalysis of the Sivertsen Cockney Phonology recordings data: New insights into language contact in London

Date: 14 January 2014 Time: 5.15 pm

Venue: B89 County South

The Language Variation and Change Research Group are delighted to announce our first invited talk of term 2.

Eivind Torgersen (Sør-Trøndelag University College, Norway) will be giving a talk on A reanalysis of the Sivertsen Cockney Phonology recordings data: New insights into language contact in London.

The talk will take place on Tuesday 14th Janurary 2014 at 5.15pm in *B89* County South (B floor).

ABSTRACT

A reanalysis of the Sivertsen Cockney Phonology recordings data: New insights into language contact in London

We present a re-analysis of the material on which Cockney Phonology (Sivertsen 1960) was based. Cockney Phonology was one of the first investigations of urban dialects in England. Typical of the time, the study was small in terms of number of speakers and did not systematically examine language variation. Nevertheless, it has been one of the main sources for reference works on English accents, such as Wells (1982). Later work looking at change in contemporary London speech has used Cockney Phonology as baseline, although the lack of acoustic data has made the investigation of processes such as vowel change more difficult as these studies, e.g. Kerswill et al. (2008), have exclusively used formant tracking. Recently, however, Sivertsen's original recordings have been recovered and digitised, and been made available to other researchers. Her two main informants, already elderly when the recordings were carried out in the mid-1950s, were born around 1890 and lived in Bethnal Green in London's East End. Our acoustic analysis of phonological features provides an improved baseline for some of the linguistic processes that can be observed in London English today. Not surprisingly, the analysis of all vowels shows more variation than the system presented in Cockney Phonology. On the other hand, there is no TH-fronting, which is supposed to be a long-established London feature. One of her main informants is more towards the 'educated' London end, whilst the other main informant may not be a native speaker of English and has features of Yiddish in her speech. The data gives new insights into language contact and life in the area, which has been a centre of immigration to London for hundreds of years. The data also shows that processes of language contact have been evident in London speech for much longer than had previously been thought (Cheshire et al. 2011).

Event website: http://wp.lancs.ac.uk/lvc-rg

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Who can attend: Anyone

 

Further information

Organising departments and research centres: Linguistics and English Language

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
Lancaster LA1 4YD
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