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  • 1

    Investigating Regional Speech

    in Yorkshire:

    Evidence from the

    Millennium Memory Bank

    Sarah Elizabeth Haigh

    A thesis submitted to the University of Sheffield

    for the degree of Master of Philosophy

    in the School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics

    January 2015

  • 2

    Abstract

    In this thesis I investigate the extent to which accent variation existed in

    Yorkshire at the turn of the millennium. I do this by examining the speech of a

    number of speakers from different locations around the region, recorded in

    1998-9 as part of the Millennium Memory Bank oral history project conducted by

    the BBC and British Library. I also use this data to study change over time by

    comparing two generations of speakers from the Millennium Memory Bank, and

    also comparing those speakers with data from the Survey of English Dialects. I

    conduct the study focussing on two phonological variables: the GOAT vowel,

    and the PRICE vowel. I discuss the changes and variation found, both over time

    and with regard to place, with reference to dialect levelling as it has previously

    been described within the region, considering the possibility of the development

    of a „pan-Yorkshire‟ variety. My findings suggest that, although changes have

    clearly occurred in Yorkshire since the time of the SED, some variation within

    the region remains robust, and there may even be evidence of new diversity

    arising as urban varieties in Yorkshire cities continue to evolve.

    I also assess the potential of an oral history interview collection such as

    the Millennium Memory Bank for use in linguistic research, discussing the

    advantages and drawbacks of such data, and describing ways in which the

    collection as it currently stands could be made more accessible to linguists.

  • 3

    Acknowledgements

    My greatest thanks go to my supervisors, Emma Moore and Chris Montgomery,

    for their dedication, guidance and patience throughout the course of this year. I

    would also like to offer sincerely thanks to my previous supervisor Professor

    Joan Beal, and to Gareth Walker, Sam Kirkham, Katie Finnegan, Nicholas

    Flynn, and Ann Fabricius for their invaluable assistance.

    I am also extremely grateful to the British Library for funding my study, offering

    and preparing the materials for me to work with, and supporting me throughout

    my time working there and back in Sheffield. In particular I would like to thank

    Jonnie Robinson for his great help and kindness.

    I must also thank my mum, my partner David, and many friends who have

    offered help, support and sympathy whenever necessary, and kept out of the

    way when necessary too.

    For my dad.

  • 4

    Table of contents

    Abstract ……………………………………………………………………………… 2

    Acknowledgments............................................................................................ 3

    Table of contents ………………………………………………………………….. 4

    Chapter 1 – Introduction…………………………………...……………………… 6

    1.1 Background and research questions ………………………………………… 6

    1.2 Thesis structure ………………………………………………………………… 8

    Chapter 2 – Literature review …………………………………………………… 10

    2.1 Chapter overview ………………………………………………………………10

    2.2 Yorkshire ……………………………………………………………………. 10

    2.3 The Survey of English Dialects ……………………………………………. 14

    2.4 Studies since the SED ………………………………………………………... 17

    2.5 Mobility …………………………………………………………………………..22

    2.6 Dialect contact…………… ……………………………………………………. 23

    2.7 Dialect levelling …………………………………………………………... 24

    2.8 Social networks…………………………………………………………. 25

    2.9 Speaker background, language attitudes and identity ……………………27

    2.10 Dialect death – or survival against the odds? ………………........30

    2.11 Towards new dialect formation – supralocalisation ………… 33

    2.12 A pan-Yorkshire variety? ………………………………………… 38

    2.13 Chapter summary…………………………………………………… 39

    Chapter 3 – Methodology……………………………………………………….. 40

    3.1 Chapter overview ………………………………………………………………40

    3.2 The Millennium Memory Bank (MMB) ………………………………………40

    3.3 Similar studies: the use of oral history in linguistic research ……………42

    3.4 Selecting the files for study …………………………………………………46

    3.5 The MMB speakers……………..……………………………………………51

    3.6 Selecting the variables ……………………………………………………55

    3.7 Methods of analysis …………………………………………………………56

    3.7.1 The SED …………………………………………………………….56

    3.7.2 The MMB …………………………………………………………….. 57

    3.8 Chapter summary ……………………………………………………………60

    Chapter 4 – Results………………………………………………………………. 61

    4.1 Chapter overview ………………………………………………………… 61

    4.2 The GOAT vowel …………………………………………………………… 61

    4.2.1 The SED…………………………………………………… 61

    4.2.2 Studies since the SED……………………………………….. 70

    4.2.3 Auditory analysis of the MMB data…………………………75

    4.2.4 Summary of trends observed through auditory analysis…87

    4.2.5 Acoustic analysis of the MMB data……………………........ 89

  • 5

    4.2.6 Summary of acoustic analysis………………………………111

    4.3 The PRICE vowel ……………………………………………………………113

    4.3.1Evidence from before the SED……………………………. 113

    4.3.2 The SED………………………………………………………113

    4.3.3 Studies since the SED……………………………………… 121

    4.3.4 Auditory analysis of the MMB data…………………………124

    4.3.5 Summary of trends observed through auditory analysis…134

    4.3.6 Acoustic analys is of the MMB data………………………136

    4.3.7 Summary of acoustic analysis……………………………148

    4.4 Chapter summary ……………………………………………………………. 149

    Chapter 5 – Discussion………………………………………………………… 150

    5.1 Summary of findings ………………………………………………………….150

    5.2The GOAT vowel ……………………………………………………………...150

    5.3 The PRICE vowel

    ……………………………………………………………..1605.4Dialect levelling in

    Yorkshire …………………………………………………161

    Chapter 6 – Conclusions ………………………………………………………166

    6.1 Answering the research questions ………………………………………….166

    6.2 Evaluation of the project …………………………………………………171

    6.3 Concluding remarks …………………………………………………………173

    References………………………………………………………………………… 174

  • 6

    Chapter 1 – Introduction

    1.1 Background and research questions

    This project investigates language variation and change across three

    locations in the region of Yorkshire in northern England. It does this by

    examining the variables denoted by Wells (1982) as the GOAT vowel and the

    PRICE vowel in the speech of male working class speakers from two

    generations in the cities of Leeds, Sheffield and Hull. Thus, this study has two

    components: the examination of geographical variation between the three cities,

    and looking for evidence of change over time.

    Yorkshire has a long history of dialect interest and study, with titles both

    popular and scholarly dating back to the 17th century: an overview of these is

    given in Chapter 2. There have been a number of recent studies of language

    variation and change in Yorkshire, Stoddart et al (1999) in Sheffield, Watt and

    Tillotson (2001) in Bradford, Rich

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