Linguistic innovators: the English of adolescents in London
Summary: This project is a study of the spoken English of London, the first to be undertaken for some time and the first taking full and explicit account of the diversity of London's population and its social and geographical mobility.
Type of Activity: Academic Research - Externally Funded
Principal Investigator: Paul Kerswill
Co-investigator: Jenny Cheshire (external)
Researchers: Sue Fox (external), Eivind Torgersen
Partner: Queen Mary, University of London
London is said to be the source of linguistic innovation in Britain in pronunciation and grammar. Quantitative sociolinguistic research in the southeast centres outside London, and notes great dialect levelling (homogenisation), with features apparently diffusing from London. London has not yet seen a systematic sociolinguistic study, and we will remedy this. Our study takes account of (1) London's massive multilingualism; (2) linguistic innovation in adolescence; (3) the effect of a 'multiracial vernacular' among young Londoners on mainstream speech; (4) differences in ethnic makeup, mobility and networks between inner and outer London, resulting in differences in capacity to innovate and spread linguistic features. We sample 72 16-19 year olds in two boroughs, using quantitative and qualitative methods to find explanations for their speech patterns. We seek the origins of linguistic change in London's complex social mix, thus gaining a critical understanding of levelling in Britain.
Queen Mary, University of London
Purpose of Research
Academic Research - Externally Funded
ESRC - £278,996