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Black Country dialect literature and what it can tell us about Black Country dialect.


  • When? 19 December 2019 , 14:00
  • Where? MC226

 Dr Esther Asprey's talk tracks spelling representations across time and region to add to what is known about patterns of linguistic change within one of the UK’s most socially stigmatised dialects (Coupland and Bishop 2007). The area in which Black Country dialect is spoken centres on the town of Dudley and has been changed demographically since the start of the Industrial Revolution in the 1750s. 12 Waves of migrant workers from Wales, Shropshire, and the wider north (Lancashire, Yorkshire, Scotland), as well as Ireland, came during the 18th and 19th centuries, and are now succeeded by migration from former UK colonies (India, Pakistan, the Caribbean). Such migration has been mooted as a source of change in the region. (Khan 2006; Clark and Asprey 2013). Added to this is the complexity of the Black Country linguistic system. It has a system of modal verbs which negate by ablaut, a phonological system which is at its most local end of the continuum between less and more localised, extremely different to RP, and retains many older Midlands morphemes lost in other dialects including [ɜ:] er for the third person singular female subject pronoun, and -n suffixing for the present tense verbal infinitive. It is then, a rich dialect which has been seen to be moving from a more Northern system to a Southern system over the past 100 years (Asprey, 2015). Examination of the two Black Country texts in the Salamanca corpus, together with selected dialect poems and monologues collected from local interest newspapers, novels and poetry collections and spanning 1850 to the present day, will tell us more about the nature of these changes.

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