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Variation and Change in Aberdeen English

A Sociophonetic Study


Thorsten Brato

This book is the first major sociophonetic work on the urban accent of Aberdeen in North-East Scotland. The study shows how the accent has changed following the large-scale immigration from other parts of Scotland and the UK since the 1970s. It is rooted in a dialect contact framework and based on sociolinguistic interviews with a stratified sample of 44 Aberdonians. The study uses an innovative method to assess the importance of the individual speaker in innovating and conserving the local accent. Based on six phonological variables, it shows how the traditional variants are replaced or marginalised, supraregional forms gain ground and strongly marked forms typical of Glaswegian or London English are added to the local feature pool.

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6 Data and methodology


6 Data and methodology

This chapter describes the methodology used in this study. It has four main parts. I will first outline the study design, and then turn to the description of the methodology of the phonetic and statistical analysis before presenting a model of assessing innovation and conservatism.

6.1 Study design

This section describes the methods of informant selection, recording procedure and the types of material and background information I gathered. As has been outlined in the previous chapter, the aim of this study is to provide a snapshot of the ongoing koineisation in the accent of Aberdeen following the immigration waves of the last decades. In line with the theoretical framework discussed in chapter 4 and other variationist studies carried out within a first-wave approach (Eckert 2005), the focus is on the role of speakers of different ages and socio-economic backgrounds.

The overall sample analysed for this study consists of 44 speakers from two broad social backgrounds, middle class (MC) and working class (WC) and three age groups: young speakers (nine and ten years old), teenagers (14 and 15 years old) and adults (38–65 years old). Table 6.1 shows the breakdown of the speaker groups7. The process of informant selection is outlined in the following section.

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