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Linguistic Change in Galway City English

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


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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5. Analysis of (th, dh)-variability in Galway City English


5.  Analysis of (th, dh)-variability in Galway City English

This chapter sets out to provide a general picture of the distribution of (th) and (dh) in the CGCSE as well as in the subset of data on which the variationist analysis is based. It then presents the analysis of patterns in the distribution of variants of (th, dh) by discussing individual linguistic and non-linguistic factor groups and the impact they have on the likelihood of one or another realisation of the variables.

The previous chapter has produced a detailed picture of the underlying methods that were employed in recruiting speakers for the predesigned sample, in conducting and transcribing the interviews, as well as in coding and acoustically analysing the tokens containing (th, dh) in the subset of data from the CGCSE. All these methodological considerations were required in order to enable the variationist analysis of (th, dh)-variability in Galway City English, which will be presented in detail in this chapter.

Section 5.1 sets out explaining the frequency and distribution of (th, dh) in the CGCSE in general. It shows that , as the graphematic representation of (th) and (dh), is much more likely to occur in function words than in content words as well as in word-initial position rather than in word-medial and word-final position, with strong phonetic restrictions operating on the occurrence of (th) and (dh) within certain classes of words. Section 5.2 then provides an overview over the...

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