Linguistic variation and national identities on the Scottish/English border

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Language and Linguistic Science

Abstract

This study will investigate the influence of the Scottish/English border on language variation in the region. Previous sociological research carried out in and around Berwick-upon-Tweed shows that regional and national identities in the area are unexpectedly complex and fluid, and that linguistic behaviour plays a central role in making and marking these identities. It is as yet unclear, however, exactly which accent  features are used to index, for example, ‘Scottishness’ versus ‘Englishness’. Through detailed investigation of speech production patterns, combined with perceptual testing and the elicitation of attitudinal data from participants, the project aims to establish what these features are, how their use is distributed socially, and whether they are currently undergoing change. These questions will be addressed through auditory and instrumental acoustic analyses of speech elicited by interview and questionnaire from socially stratified samples of speakers in four border localities (Berwick, Eyemouth, Carlisle, Gretna). By so doing the project will not only further the current state of knowledge in the field of variationist sociophonetics, but will also contribute significantly to the bodies of work which focus specifically on the language/identity nexus and the emerging field of linguistic border studies.



 



 

 
Title AISEB exhibition 
Description Exhibition at Ron Cooke Hub, Heslington East campus, University of York, November 2012. Two parts: (1) photographic exhibition (portraits of selected interviewees, scenes of the four fieldwork sites) by Paul Watt, professional photographer (www.paulwatt.com); (2) audio-visual presentation using 3Sixty immersive multimedia exhibition space, Ron Cooke Hub (audio clips, written quotes, photographs of fieldwork sites, data charts, diagrams, animations, etc.). 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2012 
Impact Invitation from curator of Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery, Carlisle, to contribute audiovisual materials on dialect and accent issues to a future exhibition on identity on the Scottish/English border (no date yet set). Press interest: ITV request for TV interview; requests for interviews from a variety of UK radio stations, including BBC Radio Carlisle; articles in York Press, Newcastle Chronicle. 
URL http://www.york.ac.uk/news-and-events/features/accents-and-identities/
 
Description The AISEB project made significant theoretical and methodological contributions to the field of variationist sociophonetics (the study of pronunciation differences in their social contexts). Through our dissemination activities and published outputs (particularly the two volumes Watt and Llamas edited) we also influenced how research is done in language and identity studies, and linguistic border studies.

We found correlations between linguistic behaviour and social/political attitudes, which in the context of devolution to Scotland and later the prospect of a subsequent independence referendum, were of major concern to inhabitants of the Scottish/English border region. We also gathered results from listening tests carried out on a subset of the AISEB interviewees with a view to finding out more about listeners' sensitivity to various local pronunciations of vowels and consonants, and how listeners attributed these speech forms to Scottish and English speakers.
Exploitation Route The AISEB corpus of recordings, and the statistical and qualitative data deriving from it, has been or could be put to use in the following areas: speech technology (speech and speaker recognition; accent classification); forensic phonetics; clinical linguistics and phonetics; academic linguists and social psychologists; school-level teaching; museum and exhibition curation.
Sectors Aerospace, Defence and Marine,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Government, Democracy and Justice,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
URL http://www.york.ac.uk/language/research/projects/aiseb/
 
Description The main users of the AISEB findings have thus far been other academic linguists, but the corpus of recordings has also started to be used for speech technology applications, in particular an automatic accent classifier system developed by Georgina Brown, one of Watt's current PhD students.
First Year Of Impact 2012
Sector Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections
Impact Types Cultural,Policy & public services
 
Description British Academy/Leverhulme Trust Small Research Grants Scheme
Amount £9,996 (GBP)
Funding ID SG122751 
Organisation The British Academy 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom of Great Britain & Northern Ireland (UK)
Start 07/2013 
End 12/2014
 
Title AISEB corpus 
Description Corpus of audio recordings of interviews from AISEB project (~200 people interviewed in Gretna, Carlisle, Eyemouth and Berwick, 2008-2011). 
Type Of Material Database/Collection of data 
Year Produced 2012 
Provided To Others? Yes  
Impact Development of Y-ACCDIST automatic accent classifier system by Georgina Brown, PhD candidate, University of York. 
URL http://www.york.ac.uk/language/research/projects/aiseb/
 
Description Tyler Kendall/Anne Fabricius collaboration 
Organisation Roskilde University
Country Denmark, Kingdom of 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint research and output publications
Collaborator Contribution Joint research and output publications
Impact Watt, D., Llamas, C., Docherty, G.J., Fabricius, A.H. & Kendall, T. (2012). Interaction of merging vowels and derhotacisation in Borders English. Conference of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians (BAAP), Leeds, March 2012.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Tyler Kendall/Anne Fabricius collaboration 
Organisation University of Oregon
Country United States of America 
Sector Academic/University 
PI Contribution Joint research and output publications
Collaborator Contribution Joint research and output publications
Impact Watt, D., Llamas, C., Docherty, G.J., Fabricius, A.H. & Kendall, T. (2012). Interaction of merging vowels and derhotacisation in Borders English. Conference of the British Association of Academic Phoneticians (BAAP), Leeds, March 2012.
Start Year 2011
 
Description Berwick Civic Society talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards; follow-up emails.

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Berwick Probus Club talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards; follow-up emails.

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Carlisle and District University of the Third Age 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other academic audiences (collaborators, peers etc.)
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards; follow-up emails.

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Newcroft Social Group talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards

None
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Roland Bibby Memorial Lecture, Morpeth 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards; follow-up emails.

Invited to give another lecture in this series at a future date; letter of support from Secretary of Northumberland Language Society identified as non-academic end user for data from ESRC large research grant application (September 2014). Approached by Christopher Hudson, Science Development Technical Co-ordinator, to run a hands-on demonstration of computer-based acoustic analysis of speech at Centre for Life, Newcastle upon Tyne (date not yet arranged).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery talk, #1 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards; follow-up emails

Visit by representative of Tullie House Museum to project exhibition at University of York in November 2012; invitation to put on exhibition about identity on the Scottish/English border at Tullie House in future (date not specified).
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010
 
Description Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery talk, #2 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact talk sparked questions and discussion afterwards; follow-up emails

Visit from representative of Tullie House Museum to project exhibition at University of York in November 2012; invitation to contribute to exhibition on identity on the Scottish/English border at Tullie House in future (date not specified)
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2010