The Next Generation: Aspects of Grammatical Variation in the Speech of some London Preadolescents
This thesis is a sociolinguistic investigation into aspects of non-phonological variation in a group of preadolescents recorded in outer east London. Focusing on the analysis of selected grammatical variables, it aims to explore the nature and development of linguistic variation in an age group which has not figured prominently in the foundational sociolinguistic literature. The study is embedded within a variationist framework, and examines how the distribution of vernacular variables selected from different levels of the grammar can provide important insights into the maturing sociolinguistic competence of preadolescent speakers. The distribution of specific grammatical variables is correlated with the broad social dimensions of age and gender in order to examine the social and linguistic constraints which operate on aspects of variation in this age group. Furthermore, the findings which emerge from this study are contextualized in relation to patterns of variation used by older speakers, and are more broadly situated with regard to related patterns of variation in other dialects of English. Another primary aim of the study is to contribute to empirical characterisations of grammatical variation in southeastern England, an area in which there has been little systematic quantitative investigation of non-phonological variation. Given that London has been identified in the sociolinguistic literature as the site of considerable dialect levelling and a major locus of linguistic innovation, the study explores preadolescents' active participation in some of the burgeoning linguistic changes that are affecting not only southeasten dialects, but also other contemporary varieties of English.
- Theses