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Investigating varieties of English: Bristol

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Jack Willson

on 22 April 2014

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Transcript of Investigating varieties of English: Bristol

Investigating varieties of English: Bristol
Where is it used?
Bristolian is a variety of English used in the city of Bristol. Bristol is located in the South West of England, in the county of Somerset.
Bristol, England
Grammatical features?
Periphrastic -do
- e.g. "if he do come down" = if he does come down
Multiple negation (double negatives)
- e.g. "he couldn't hear nobody"
First person singular 'be' + negative particle (ain't')
- e.g. "I ain't going to blame him"
Omission of auxiliary verb
- e.g. "we got to go to work"
Demonstrative pronoun those -> they
- e.g "pick they first"
Ain't as the negated form of
- e.g. "I ain't had a look at them yet"

Grammatical Features Continued...
AD 43:
Roman conquest begun

Somerset inhabited by two races; the Brythons and the Belg (the early Britons)

end of Roman rule in northern and western Britain - Latin language had little influence

5th Century:
Anglo-Saxon settlement of Britain

Saxon invaders came in clans, each speaking different dialect, and drove the Britons westwards

River Parrett formed the boundary between Wessex and Dumnonia - west of the river much more Celtic influence, east of the river much more Saxon influence
More interesting facts..
The name 'Bristol' is itself an example of the use of the intrusive L. It was formerly known as Brycgstow (Old English: the site of the bridge) but around 1200 it began being pronounced with a final 'l'
Phonological Features

Typically, Southern varities tend to use the long vowel /A:/ (a:) in words such as 'bath', 'grass' and 'glass'. However, the Bristolian variety uses a shorter vowel /{/ (a) e.g. [gr{s] and [gl{s]
A feature of speech known as "Bristol L", otherwise known as intrusive L, occurs following word final schwa /@/ e.g. 'Area' would become [E@ri:@l]
H- dropping is another feature in the Bristolian variety, with the /h/ at the start of words being omitted.
There is a tendency in Bristol for the contrast between /T/ (th) and /f/ to be lost

-Vowels in nurse and letter are r-coloured (vocalised)
-Post vocalic /r/ e.g farm - [fA:rm]
-Examples of this are present in words such as 'start', 'north', 'force', 'near' and 'cure'
-Similar to American English
Lexical Features?

Bristolian has a range of interesting lexical items which are unique to its variety. They are not typically used in other Southern varieties of English, however there are some variations spoken in the surrounding area.
Here is a table of some examples with the standard southern English form next to it...
Influence on Somerset dialect of both Celtic and West Saxon languages
Celtic Influence?
Many agricultural words in the dialect are of Celtic origin:

(to shake out hay)
(a basket)
(command a horse to stop)
(a bundle of wood)
(a cutting tool)
West Saxon Influence?
Coombe (meaning valley) borrowed from Brythonic
"The dialect is not, as some people suppose, English spoken in a slovenly and ignorant way. It is the remains of a language - the court language of King Alfred. Many words, thought to be wrongly pronounced by the countryman, are actually correct and it is the accepted pronunciation which is wrong." - Lt-Col. J.A. Garton
Modern Saxon

Ik bun
Du bust
He is


I be
Thee bist
He be

I am
You are
He is
How bist? = How are you?
"WASP" pronounced wopse in Somerset
Relative particle
- e.g. "This is the man what painted my kitchen"
Third person plural
- e.g. "They was waiting for him"
Use of male (rather than neutral) gender with nouns
- e.g.: put'ee over there ("put it over there") and 'e's a nice scarf ("That's a nice scarf")
Nominative pronouns follow some verbs

- e.g. Don't tell I, tell'ee! ("Don't tell me, tell him!"),

Interesting facts about Bristolian
Bristol is the largest English city with a rhotic accent
The Bristolian variety has a clothing company (Beast Clothing) that creates and sells all types of clothing with bristolian sayings printed on them

British Library Survey of English Dialects

Garton, J.A. (1971) A Somerset Dialect. <http://wayback.archive.org/web/20060426224910/http://www.john.lerwill.btinternet.co.uk/personal/dialects.htm> [Accessed 14 March 2014]

Gick, B. (1999) Phonology. A gesture-based account of intrusive consonants in English, 16(1), 29-54

Hughes, A., Trudgill, P. & Watt, D. (2005) English accents and dialects: an introduction to social and regional varieties of English in the British Isles. 4th edition. London: Hodder Arnold

Trudgill, P. (1990) The dialects of England. 2nd edition. Oxford: Blackwell

Wells, J.C. (1982) Accents of English 2: The British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press

Wells, J. (1970) Local Accents In England and Wales. Journal of Linguistics, 6(2), 231-252

Wren, Y. McLeod, S. White, P. Miller, L. Roulstone, S. (2012) Speech Characteristics of 8-year-old Children: Findings from a Prospective population study. Journal of Communication Disorders, 46(1), 53-69

Peter Trudgill- Sociolinguist, academic and author. His works include, The Social Differentiation of English in Norwich, Introduction to Sociolinguistics and Accent, Dialect and The School
Dominic Watt- Senior lecturer at The University of York specialising in Forensic Speech Science. Articles on the topics of phonetics, sociolinguistics and language variation and change
Arthur Hughes- Lecturer at the University of Reading in applied linguistics
Trudgill, Watt & Hughes collaborated together to write 'English Accents and Dialects'
John C. Wells- A British phonetician
President of the International Phonetic Association 2003-07. Appointed by Longman to write its pronunciation dictionary (includes a much greater scope of varieties including: American pronunciation, RP pronunciation and non-standard pronunciations from across Britain.
Tim Shortis – research associate at the University of Bristol. He is working on the development of a research and public engagement project related to linguistic diversity in Bristol.

By Emily Boswell, Lorna Evans, Bethany Ralfs & Jack Willson
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