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Regional variation of pronunciation in the south-west of England

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Part I. The Specific Features of dialects

What is the dialect?4

Geographic dialects5

Dialectal change and diffusion...5

Unifying influences on dialects..8

Focal, relic, and transitional areas..9

Received Pronunciation.9

Who first called it PR?.10

Social Variation11

Dialects of England: Traditional and Modern..12

Part II. Background to the Cornish Language

Who are the Cornish?...15

What is a Celtic Language?.15

How is Cornish Related to other Celtic Languages?...15

The Decline of Cornish15

The Rebirth of Cornish16

Standard Cornish..16

Who uses Cornish Today?...16

Government Recognition for Cornish..16

Part III. Peculiarities of South-Western Dialects Vocalisation.18



3.1 Nouns.27

3.2 Gender27

3.2.1 Gender making in Wessex-type English.27

3.3 Numerals29

3.4 Adjectives...29

.5 Pronouns.30

3.5.1 Demonstrative adjectives and pronouns

in a Devonshire dialect31

3.6 Verbs...39

3.7 Adverbs...42

3.8 Transitivity and intransivity in the dialects

of South-West England...44

4. Vocabulary..52

Conclusions...68 Bibliography..69



The modern English language is an international language nowadays. It is also the first spoken language of such countries as Australia, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa.

But in the very United Kingdom there are some varieties of it, called dialects, and accents.

The purpose of the present research paper is to study the characteristic features of the present day dialect of the South-Western region in particular.

To achieve this purpose it is necessary to find answers to the following questions:

What is the dialect?

Why and where is it spoken?

How does it differ from the standard language?

Methods of this research paper included the analysis of works of the famous linguists and phoneticians as Peter Trudgill and J.K. Chambers, Paddock and Harris, J.A. Leuvensteijn and J.B. Berns, M.M. Makovsky and D.A. Shakhbagova, and also the needed information from Britannica and the encyclopedia by David Crystal and the speech of the native population of Devonshire and Wiltshire.

Structurally the paper consists of three parts focused on the information about the dialect in general and the ways it differs from the standard language (its phonetic, grammar and other linguistic differences), and the specific features of the South-West of England.

The status of the English language in the XXth century has undergone certain changes. Modern English has become a domineering international language of nowadays.

PART I. The Specific Features of dialects.

What is the dialect?

Dialect is a variety of a language. This very word comes from the Ancient Greek dialectos discourse, language, dialect, which is derived from dialegesthai to discourse, talk. A dialect may be distinguished from other dialects of the same language by features of any part of the linguistic structure - the phonology, morphology, or syntax.

The label dialect, or dialectal, is attached to substandard speech, language usage that deviates from the accepted norm. On the other hand the standard language can be regarded as one of the dialects of a given language. In a special historical sense, the term dialect applies to a language considered as one of a group deriving from a common ancestor, e.g. English dialects. (9, p.389)

It is often considered difficult to decide whether two linguistic varieties are dialects of the same language or two separate but closely related languages; this is especially true of dialects of primitive societies.

Normally, dialects of the same language are considered to be mutually intelligible while different languages are not. Intelligibility between dialects is, however, almost never absolutely complete; on the other hand, speakers of closely related languages can still communicate to a certain extent when each uses his own mother tongue. Thus, the criterion of intelligibility is quite relative. In more developed societies, the distinction between dialects and related languages is easier to make because of the existence of standard languages and, in some cases, national consciousness.

There is the term vernacular among the synonyms for dialect; it refers to the common, everyday speech of the ordinary people of a region. The word accent has numerous meanings; in addition to denoting the pronunciation of a person or a group of people (a foreign accent, a British accent, a Southern accent). In contrast to accent, the term dialect is used to refer not only to the sounds of language but also to its grammar and vocabulary.

Geographic dialects.

The most widespread type of dialectal differentiation is geographic. As a rule, the speech of one locality differs from that of any other place. Differences between neighbouring local dialects are usually small, but, in travelling farther in the same direction, differences accumulate.

Every dialectal feature has its own boundary line, called an isogloss (or sometimes heterogloss). Isoglosses of various linguistic phenomena rarely coincide completely, and by crossing and interweaving they constitute intricate patterns on dialect maps. Frequently, however, several isoglosses are grouped approximately together into a bundle of isoglosses. This grouping is caused either by geographic obstacles that arrest the diffusion of a number of innovations along the same line or by historical circumstances, such as political borders of long standing, or by migrations that have brought into contact two populations whose dialects were developed in noncontiguous areas. (9, p.396)

Geographic dialects include local ones or regional ones. Regional dialects do have some internal variation, but the differences within a regional dialect are supposedly smaller than differences between two regional dialects of the same rank.

In a number of areas (linguistic landscapes) where the dialectal differentiation is essentially even, it is hardly justified to speak of regional dialects. This uniformity has led many linguists to deny the meaningfulness of such a notion altogether; very frequently, however, bundles of isoglosses - or even a single isogloss of major importance - permit the division, of a territory into regional dialects. The public is often aware of such divisions, usually associating them with names of geographic regions or provinces, or with some feature of pronunciation. Especially clear-cut cases of division are those in which geographic isolation has played the principal role. (9, p.397)

Dialectal change and diffusion.

The basic cause of dialectal differentiation is linguistic change. Every living language constantly changes in its various elements. Because languages are extremely complex systems of signs, it is almost inconceivable that linguistic evolution could affect the same elements and even transform them in the same way in all regions where one language is spoken and for all speakers in the same region. At first glance, differences caused by linguistic change seem to be slight, but they inevitably accumulate with time (e.g. compare Chaucers English with modern English). Related languages usually begin as dialects of the same language.

When a change (an innovation) appears among only one section of the speakers of a language, this automatically creates a dialectal difference. Sometimes an innovation in dialect A contrasts with the unchanged usage (archaism) in dialect B. Sometimes a separate innovation occurs in each of the two dialects. Of course, different innovations will appear in different dialects, so that, in comparison with its contemporaries, no one dialect as a whole can be considered archaic in any absolute sense. A dialect may be characterized as relatively archaic, because it shows fewer innovations than the others; or it may be archaic in one feature only. (9, p.415)

After the appearance of a dialectal feature, interaction between speakers who have adopted this feature and those who have not leads to the expansion of its area or even to its disappearance. In a single social milieu (generally the inhabitants of the same locality, generation and social class), the chance of the complete adoption or rejection of a new dialectal feature is very great; the intense contact and consciousness of membership within the social group fosters such uniformity. When several age groups or social strata live within the same locality and especially when people speaking the same language live in separate communities dialectal differences are easily maintained.

The element of mutual contact plays a large role in the maintenance of speech patterns; that is why differences between geographically distant dialects are normally greater than those between dialects of neighbouring settlements. This also explains why bundles of isoglosses so often form along major natural barriers - impassable mountain ranges, deserts, uninhabited marshes or forests, or wide rivers - or along political borders. Similarly, racial or religious differences contribute to linguistic differentiation because contact between members of one faith or race and those of another within the same area is very often much more superficial and less frequent than contact between members of the same racial or religious group. An especially powerful influence is the relatively infrequent occurrence of intemarriages, thus preventing dialectal mixture at the point where it is most effective; namely, in the mother tongue learned by the child at home. (9, p.417)

The fact that speech, in particular, can give such a clear answer to the question Where are you from? exercises a peculiar fascination, and the terms dialect and accent are a normal part of everyday vocabulary. We can notice regional differences in the way people talk, laugh at dialect jokes, enjoy dialect literature and folklore and appreciate the point of dialect parodies.

At the same time - and this is the paradox of dialect study - we can easily make critical judgements about ways of speaking which we perceive as alien. These attitudes are usually subconscious.

The study of regional linguistic variation is very important. The more we know about regional variation and change in the use of English, the more we will come to appreciate the individuality of each of the varieties which we call dialects, and the less we are likely to adopt demeaning stereotypes about people from other parts of the country.

As for the United Kingdom until 1700 the small population was sparsely distributed and largely rural and agricultural, much as it had been in medieval times. From the mid-18th century, scientific and technological innovations created the first modern industrial state, while, at the same time, agriculture was undergoing technical and tenurial changes and revolutionary improvements in transport made easier the movement of materials and people. As a result, by the first decade of the 19th century, a previously mainly rural population had been largely replaced by a nation made up of industrial workers and town dwellers.

The rural exodus was a long process. The breakdown of communal farming started before the 14th century; and subsequently enclosures advanced steadily, especially after 1740, until a century later open fields had virtually disappeared from the landscape. Many of the landless agricultural labourers so displaced were attracted to the better opportunities for employment and the higher wage levels existing in the growing industries; their movements, together with those of the surplus population produced by the contemporary rapid rise in the birth rate, resulted in a high volume of internal migration that took the form of a movement toward the towns.

Industry, as well as the urban centres that inevitably grew up around it, was increasingly located near the coalfields, while the railway network, which grew rapidly after 1830, enhanced the commercial importance of many towns. The migration of people especially young people, from the country to industrialized

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Regional variation of pronunciation in the south-west of England


Regional variation of pronunciation in the south-west of England

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