Language attitudes, stereotypes and ingroup membership: examining young people’s perception of their speech community in Newcastle-upon-Tyne

Taylor, Judith Anne (2021) Language attitudes, stereotypes and ingroup membership: examining young people’s perception of their speech community in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. Doctoral thesis, Northumbria University.

Text (Doctoral Thesis)
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This thesis aims to enrich our understanding of language and social identification by providing up-to-date insights into both the structure and construction of contemporary language attitudes, among 153 older teenagers (aged 16-18) years in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. It investigates perceptions of the local speech community by analysing speaker-evaluations, free- association keyword impressions and directly elicited affiliations, interpreting traditional speaker-evaluation research methods from an interactionist perspective. Multiple levels of identity preference are also considered, as is the situated data-collection context. The thesis applies an integrated theoretical framework incorporating concepts from language regard, social identity theory and the stereotype content model, to focus on the related concepts of attitudes, stereotypes and ingroup membership.

Evaluations and impressions were analysed quantitatively to identify preferences, examine stereotype profiles of speakers along the ‘big two’ dimensions of status and social attractiveness, and interpret ingrouping and outgrouping. Content analysis of impressions revealed concepts that are important in forming impressions of speakers. Lexical repertoires were interpreted as pointers towards societal ideological assumptions. Listener strategies for distancing and connecting were also identified. Affiliations indicated the level of locality that is most pertinent to ingroup identification.

Analysis of both evaluations and impressions revealed that one local speaker was profiled as a ‘standard’ speaker, evaluated highly along both status and solidarity dimensions, indicating that neither linguistic insecurity nor covert prestige characterises responses to Newcastle speech. Evaluative judgements and selective lexical repertoires provided concurring evidence of outgrouping in responses to Standard Southern British English speech, demonstrating that prevalent discourses of the north as ‘other’ to the south of England continue to influence responses to SSBE speech. Less coherent profiling in responses to other northern speakers, implied that traditional stereotypes of speakers of other northern varieties are being disrupted.

Language ideological assumptions of superiority and inferiority endure, made manifest in several latent themes which largely reflected the ’big two’ dimensions. Three interactive listener strategies for constructing impressions of speakers emerged: appraisal, affective reaction, and ascribed perspective.

Discrepancies were revealed between prototypes elicited by conceptual labels and verbal guise speaker samples, revealing preference for less localised labels. The disfavoured label ‘Geordie’ seems likely to signify traditional forms, whereas moderately accented, but still local speech, may represent a modern reference norm.

The thesis provides up-to date evidence of contemporary language attitudes in Newcastle, adds to methodological debate concerning speaker-evaluation research, and extends the use of the stereotype content model to the analysis of free-chosen keyword associations and responses to speaker samples.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Uncontrolled Keywords: Language regard, Northern Englishes, Speaker-evaluation, The ‘big two’ dimensions, Linguistic identity
Subjects: L700 Human and Social Geography
Q100 Linguistics
Department: Faculties > Arts, Design and Social Sciences > Humanities
University Services > Graduate School > Doctor of Philosophy
Depositing User: John Coen
Date Deposited: 02 Dec 2021 08:43
Last Modified: 02 Dec 2021 08:45

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