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Title: A sociolinguistic study of t-glottalling in young RP : accent, class and education
Author: Badia Barrera, Berta
ISNI:       0000 0004 5916 4894
Awarding Body: University of Essex
Current Institution: University of Essex
Date of Award: 2015
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Received Pronunciation (RP) has been widely described linguistically (Wells 1982, 1991, 1997), although little sociolinguistic research has been carried out on it (Fabricius 2000). Over the last few years, a new trend has been observed in young RP speakers to incorporate non-standard features in their accent, such as t-glottalling (Fabricius 2000). This quantitative sociophonetic study analyses to what extent t-glottalling is present in the speech of young RP speakers and which are the linguistic and social constraints that affect its variability. The data are based on sociolinguistic interviews of 20 teenagers, aged between 13 and 17, from three different types of schools in the South of England: a major public (private) boarding school, a private non-boarding school and an outstanding rated comprehensive school in a prosperous rural area. These data are complemented by 15 older speakers, aged 27, who are ex-alumni of the schools under study. The quantitative data are analysed through multivariate analysis using Varbrul. This thesis aims at re-visiting t-glottalling, a widely researched linguistic variable, from an innovative perspective, by splitting the dataset into word-medial and word-final and by analysing a wide range of linguistic factors, which have often been overlooked in previous studies of t-glottalling in British accents. The linguistic constraints analysed in the study are: preceding and following phonological environment (with types of consonants and types of vowels), style, grammatical category, stress, number of syllables and lexical frequency. As for the social constraints, they include type of school (used as a proxy for social class), age and gender. Results show that young RP speakers are being conservative in terms of word-medial t-glottalling, whereas in word-final contexts, they are being innovative and language change is in progress, especially in the word-final pre-pausal and pre-vocalic (back vowels) phonological environments. Furthermore, lexical frequency seems to be playing a role in the different progressing stages of the glottal stop word-internally and across word boundaries. Finally, this research shows that type of school is a crucial factor in explaining the variability of the glottal stop in this accent, with teenagers from the comprehensive and private non-boarding schools being the ones who are leading the changes of t-glottalling in young RP and with those speakers belonging to the most elitist private boarding schools resisting considerably the adoption of t-glottalling. This thesis examines how different RP is in middle, middle-upper and upper class youth today, as well as analyses the state of RP in the current generation, to see if there are any changes in progress. Another variant has been found in the analysis, which has shown a new and interesting development in young RP: taps. This may suggest that new non-standard features might be making their way into young RP speech. Moreover, this study aims to re-evaluate RP as a label and revise the relationship between social class and language variation, by discussing new approaches in the social class literature and by drawing concepts and ideas from the sociology of education and the sociology of the elites to understand the nature of RP as a social accent.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: P Philology. Linguistics