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See this excellent blog for language news of the week, maintained by a teacher of A Level English Language.
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Basil Bernstein -
Focus: grammatical constructions, judging contexts & class
Method: theory only. Examples offered are invented examples of “typical” code use, not actual data.
Findings/conclusions: Working class families do not cultivate elaborated code (necessary for clarity in some situations), hence WC kids are disadvantaged in school.
William Labov (Martha’s Vineyard, 1962)
Focus: Accent features of native inhabitants
Method: Interviews -
Findings/conclusions: Younger speakers (31-
William Labov (New York, 1966)
Method: Created environment where shop staff need to say “fourth floor”. Created pressure by inducing repetition. Used in 3 stores of different classes. (This was only a part of a much larger project)
Peter Trudgill (Norwich, 1974)
Focus: Accent features & class
Method: 5 kinds of data (after Labov) -
James & Lesley Milroy (Belfast, 1978)
Focus: Social networks & non-
Method: Studied 3 speech communities, with Lesley introduced as “friend of a friend”. Measured people’s social networks as open/closed and by density.
Jenny Cheshire (Reading, 1982)
Focus: Grammar & peer group norms
Method: Toughness index -
Findings/conclusion: “Tougher” kids used fewer standard forms generally. It was possible to define sub-
Jenny Cheshire & Viv Edwards (dialect survey, 1997)
Method: Questionnaires in schools throughout the UK, to establish whether non-
Findings/conclusions: Many forms were found to be common across the UK (eg look at them big spiders) and some forms which were expected to be found widespread (eg multiple negation) were not.
Paul Kerswill & Ann Williams (Milton Keynes, 2000)
Focus: Accent features & age in Milton Keynes
Method: Examined groups of children by age, comparing with their parents’ accents, which are from different locations as MK is a new town created in 1969..
Findings/conclusions: Milton Keynes is seeing a new accent created by its youth, which includes many features considered to be “Estuary”. Older children were found to have their own accent, not like any of their parents or of the native older people -
These are not all the studies you could possibly use in this topic, but they do represent a good selection that offers you a range of concepts to work with.