Lecture series in Language and Linguistics
Thomas Devlin, University of Sussex
This research investigates the influence of coal mining vocabulary on variant usage by testing the claim that mining communities preserve distinctive and conservative phonological patterns (Wales 2006: 124). The study explores the degree of advancement of vowels belonging to the START lexical set (Wells 1982) in mining and non-mining words in the speech of sixteen male speakers aged over sixty years of age from former colliery villages in East Durham in the North East of England. The results show that regardless of whether the speaker worked at the pit or not, START vowels are shifted to significantly backer realisations in mining words than in non-mining vocabulary, close to traditional pronunciations noted in historical dialect literature. This outcome is upheld even in identical lexical items with different meanings in mining and non-mining speech.