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LINGUIST List 19.3874

Wed Dec 17 2008

Diss: Socioling: Asprey: 'Black Country English and Black Country ...'

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        1.    Esther Asprey, Black Country English and Black Country Identity

Message 1: Black Country English and Black Country Identity
Date: 16-Dec-2008
From: Esther Asprey <e.aspreybham.ac.uk>
Subject: Black Country English and Black Country Identity
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Institution: University of Leeds
Program: School of English
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2007

Author: Esther Asprey

Dissertation Title: Black Country English and Black Country Identity

Linguistic Field(s): Sociolinguistics

Dissertation Director:
Clive Upton

Dissertation Abstract:

The Black Country lies in the Midlands of England; its eastern border is
formed by the city of Birmingham. The name Black Country is of obscure
origin, but generally acknowledged to have semantic links with the heavy
industry in the area, which arose with the birth of the Industrial
Revolution. The major issue faced by all those who wish to research the
area, and by implication, the language varieties within it, is that the
Black Country exists only in abstract terms. It has no geographical
boundaries, nor any founded historically on political or administrative
divisions. The study first examines the origins of this uncertainty, and
from this delimits an area in which fieldwork is subsequently conducted.

The purpose of the study is twofold. The first half presents for the first
time a thorough and accurate description of the linguistic structure of
Black Country English. It also uses the natural language data collected to
shed some light on patterns of linguistic change and the extralinguistic
variables which may or may not operate on these changes. Such patterns are
examined also in the light of qualitative reports from informants themselves.

In the second half of the study I examine the phenomenon of polarisation
towards or away from a Black Country identity, both in regional and
linguistic terms. Data used to do so were gathered using specific questions
dealing with questions of regional and linguistic affiliation, and
conversations of up to 60 minutes with informants are used to expand on
these written answers. The study then links linguistic usage of one
phonological and two morphological variables with informants' descriptions
of their own identity. Identity is multifaceted, and the qualitative data
gathered are used to unravel feelings of identity which are in turn
connected with the continuum of local to standard which is available to
speakers, and the linguistic possibilities available to them.

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