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Linguistic Change in Galway City English

A Variationist Sociolinguistic Study of (th) and (dh) in Urban Western Irish English

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Arne Peters

This volume is a novel approach to the corpus-based variationist sociolinguistic study of contemporary urban western Irish English. Based on qualitative data as well as on linguistic features extracted from the Corpus of Galway City Spoken English, this study approaches the major sociolinguistic characteristics of (th) and (dh) variability in Galway City English. It demonstrates the diverse local patterns of variability and change in the phonetic realisation of the dental fricatives and establishes a considerable degree of divergence from traditional accounts on Irish English. This volume suggests that the linguistic stratification of variants of (th) and (dh) in Galway correlates both with the social stratification of the city itself and with the stratification of speakers by social status, sex/gender and age group.
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2. Galway as social and linguistic area

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2.  Galway as social and linguistic area

The following chapter introduces Galway as an urban area and characterises the city with a view to its historical transformations. It provides synchronic and diachronic perspectives on socioeconomic as well as sociolinguistic developments in Galway, while taking into consideration both the city as a whole as well as individual neighbourhoods that have exerted a major influence in the growth of the urban area.

The present study takes the form of an analysis of language variation and change in the dialect of English as spoken in the city of Gaillimh/Galway in Ireland. As the discussion in the previous chapter has already shown, patterns of language use and change are always embedded in social and linguistic systems (see Weinreich et al. 1968: 110) and socioeconomic differentiations always produce some form of linguistic stratification (Labov 2001: 39). Thus, in order to understand patterns of language variation (and linguistic stratification) and change in a given setting, the underlying patterns of social stratification must be understood. In answering to this necessity, the following chapter produces a sociohistorical, socioeconomic and sociolinguistic picture of Galway City that will foster the understanding of Galway as a social space and, thus, enable the further variationist sociolinguistic analysis of (th, dh)-variability in GCE (as described in chapter 5).

The present chapter describes a number of sociohistorical transformations of Galway City that bear linguistic importance. After giving a brief introduction into Galway as a geographical place (2.1)...

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