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Title: Children's developing awareness of regional accents : a socioperceptual investigation of pre-school and primary school children in York
Author: Jeffries, Ella
ISNI:       0000 0004 5992 3168
Awarding Body: University of York
Current Institution: University of York
Date of Award: 2016
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This thesis explores children’s developing awareness of regional accents, a relatively under-researched area of socioperceptual work. A series of four experiments are run with children in York between the ages of 2 and 9. These experiments are designed in order to investigate the process by which children progress from the ability to recognise familiar speakers to the ability to group speakers according to their regional accent. The Identification experiment establishes pre-school children’s ability to recognise familiar speakers, while the Recognition experiment finds that features of a familiar speaker’s accent forms part of the recognition process. The Grouping experiment goes on to investigate pre-school children’s ability to group speaker guises according to phonological regional variables based on a Yorkshire/Standard Southern British English (SSBE) accent distinction. Finally, the Second Grouping experiment explores older, primary school children’s ability to group different speakers according to phonological regional variables based on different accent distinctions (Yorkshire/SSBE, Yorkshire/Scottish and Yorkshire/North East). Throughout these experiments, independent variables relating to the children’s backgrounds are found to play a role in their abilities in the tasks. Generally, the girls perform better than the boys and there is an improvement throughout the ages. Furthermore, the children’s exposure to regional variation is found to significantly affect their performance in the Grouping and the Second Grouping experiments. Children with regular exposure to non-local speakers are found to perform better in these tasks overall. It is proposed that the findings from all four experiments are best explained by interpreting them through an exemplar theoretic account. In such an account, speaker categories develop from the abstraction across social-indexical properties of phonetic variation which accumulate through an individual’s experience with variation in their linguistic input.
Supervisor: Llamas, Carmen ; Foulkes, Paul Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available