Bristolian and the Languages of Bristol research strand at BCL

Current and recent projects under the Bristolian strand of the Bristol Centre for Linguistics at UWE Bristol.

Sounds Bristolian: The sociolinguistics of the Bristol variety

Despite Bristol’s size and the salience of the local accent, it has been neglected in the literature on dialect and sociolinguistics. Work undertaken by a postdoctoral researcher, Dr Tamsin Blaxter, and supported by Dr Kate Beeching, Professor Richard Coates, Dr James Murphy and various undergraduate interns, has resulted in a better understanding of the current sociolinguistic status of rhoticity in Bristolian, as well as the vowels in words like TRAP and BATH. Coates’ independent dialectological work has gone some way to characterizing the modern Bristol accent.

Dr Grant Howie continues to add to the Bristolian corpus through sociolinguistic interviewing and the collection of reading passages as part of his LangVar project, which seeks to track change in the Bristol variety in real-time. He is also exploring how incoming students’ accents are influenced by spending time in Bristol.

Functional description(s) of British Sign Language

Dr Luke Rudge has produced the first ever description of a signed language taking a Systemic Functional Linguistic approach using data collected by users of BSL in Bristol. He continues to work on the variety to explore aspects of its grammar and contextual use.

Language policy – perspectives from Somali Bristolians

Dr Charlotte Selleck works with Bristol’s Somali community to explore questions around language policy, both in the home and at a local level. She has considered the choices families make around which language to use in the home and the pressures which parents and children come under when it comes to deciding whether to speak Somali or English. She is currently working with Dr Rona Lockyer-Sheppard (Department of Nursing and Midwifery, Faculty of Health and Applied Sciences, UWE Bristol) on an interdisciplinary study to explore British-Somali experiences of fatherhood.

Judgements on language use in native and non-native speakers

Dr Minna Kirjavainen-Morgan , Dr Grant Howie, Dr Luke Rudge and a postgraduate student, Lucy Nicholson, are investigating if different non-native speaker groups’ grammatical and/or lexical errors are judged differently in comparison to each other and to a native English speaker group, and if these differences are influenced by informal and formal contexts. This will give us an insight into whether the speaker’s expected language level affects the level with which the hearer perceives the speaker’s language proficiency.