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Milroy and Milroy: Belfast Study

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Georgina Ruffin

on 1 November 2012

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Transcript of Milroy and Milroy: Belfast Study

Milroy &
Milroy Belfast
Study The first Study was in 1977 in the inner city and a supplementary study was carried out in two outer-city (lower class rather than working class) communities. Three working class Belfast districts. Two were in West Belfast (the Clonard - Catholic and the Hammer - Protestant) and one was in East Belfast (Ballymacarrett - Protestant) . When? Where? Why? Because of the mental and geographical isolation it has from England. BUV has persisted despite pressures of Northern Irish English (Standard). What? The last major study of BUV phonology. BUV - Belfast Urban Vernacular
Dense Networks - Small communities where almost everyone knows everyone else.
Multiplex Networks - Communities where people know each other in several capacities (E.g. Your mother's friend will also be your boss).
Vernacular - The language or dialect spoken by the ordinary people in a particular country or region. Makes it easier to isolate phonological changes and pinpoint where they might be coming from. The tightly-knit, segregated nature of these communities would be a great place to see the pressure of their members to conform to vernacular linguistic norms rather than aspiring to standard usage. The segregation intensified since the 'peace line' was built after violent disturbances in 1969. Milroy studied variants in 'phonolexical alternation' in both Interview Style (IS) and Spontaneous Style (SS) amongst a group of men and women (40-55) and men and women (18-25). Gender Roles Rounded Vowels Deletion of ð |A| Backing E.g. PULL to rhyme with 'dull' rather than 'pool'. In the older age group women used PULL variable more than men in both IS and SS. In the younger age group, men used the PULL variable a lot more, particularly in SS where women used it 20% compared to 61% of men. E.g. Pronouncing 'hand' as 'hound'. Mostly used by East Belfast males at the time of the study but spreading towards the West. E.g. 'mother' becomes 'mo'er' All groups used this variable however, mostly men used it in both SS and IS moreover the younger males. Method of Study They relied on mutual acquaintance introductions to gain access to and move through a community over an extended period. This instilled some measure of trust and familiarity, minimised the self-correction speech and avoided the pre-selection of more 'respectable' speakers of the communities (this might have occurred had the researchers been introduced through institutional channels). Social Network Theory Standardizing pressure from the education system and the media were being opposed by counter-prestige that favoured and enforced vernacular norms. Pressure to maintain the vernacular is likely to be strongest in 'dense networks' and 'multiplex networks'. To measure 'dense' and 'multiplex' networks in a community. Milroy would assign a 'network strength score' from 0-5 (0 being low, 5 being high) to an informant which measured their integration into local networks. Speakers prefer the solidarity expressed by using vernacular, The close-knit network is a form of protection (A. Giddens - The Constitution of Society 1984). Anthropologist Thomas Horjup argues this insecurity is necessary in order for strong networks to be formed. Furthermore, the fieldworker had to be a woman as she entered the communities alone since "women were much less likely to be attacked by men (L.Milroy). Conclusion: It is easier for 'normative consensus' to be imposed on speakers who are members of dense multiplex networks. Therefore, they tend to maintain vernacular and impede language change - this is seen as a sign of loyalty. Conclusion: Women are more lingustically aware/better at languages generally. They make a better effort to use the pronunciation they judge appropriate to the circumstance. Also, 'women were much more inclined than men to look for work outside the locality' meaning they had weaker links (L.Milroy). Key
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