My thesis looks at regional dialect levelling in the southeast. I created an original corpus of spoken data from an age stratified sample of speakers. The research site was Hastings, my hometownwhich is jovially referred to by the rest of Sussex as a drinking town with a fishing problem.
A growing phenomenon in British English is Regional Dialect Levelling. This is where accents lose their local characteristics in favour of more supralocal forms. The result is that different areas cease to have recognisably different dialects. For instance, neighbouring towns or villages become linguistically indistinguishable. Earlier elements of dialectal diversity are shaved off through processes of linguistic smoothing.
This research focuses on two key issues: 1. The understanding of the mechanisms involved in regional dialect levelling 2. How accounts of dialect levelling can inform models of sound change more generally
In this thesis I present an apparent time sociolinguistic study of regional dialect levelling in Hastings, a town on the coast of East Sussex, England. The study employs an empirical analysis of a number of ongoing sound changes. Specifically, the study examines three sound changes that, through previous analyses, have been shown to operate through different mechanisms: two features that are attributed to the externally motivated processes levelling and diffusion, and one internally motivated change driven by pressures inherent in the linguistic system. These contrasting mechanisms have been chosen in order to investigate a number of issues: first, to examine how each type of change may contribute to regional dialect levelling; and second, the analysis of these features enables a close examination of the interplay between external and internal forces of language change. More broadly, the evidence from this research is used to evaluate traditional principles of sound change in order to investigate how well they hold within a variety that is undergoing regional dialect levelling.
One Speaker Two Dialects
One speaker, two dialects: bidialectalism across three generations in Scotland
I am the primary Research Assistant on Professor J Smith’s ESRC funded project One Speaker Two Dialects (ES/K000861/1). The project investigates bidialectalism in north-east Scotland. I lead the fieldwork in terms of data collection, data processing and data analysis (including statistical analysis). I am also jointly responsible for the output of the project with regards to presentations and publications. My analytical contribution to this project focuses on sociophonetics, particularly acoustic phonetics - read an example of this in our 2015 ICPhS paper on ongoing change in the DRESS vowel.
Or see our presentation on the relationship between DRESS-lowering and changes in /l/-quality given at NWAV44 in Toronto, Oct 2015:
The only way is /s/: the indexicality of /s/-fronting
Together with Dr Erez Levon, I have been investigating the sociophonetic profile of /s/ within the southeast. We are particularly interested in how this variation may pattern in terms of the interaction of class and gender and how this may contribute to the development of sociolinguistic models of sound change. Part of this research involved the design and implementation of a novel coding tool for the quantitative analysis of acoustic parameters as they pattern with stance. Our work so far has taken its data from the reality television shows The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea.
You can read more in our 2013 Penn Working Paper here.
2015 Holmes-Elliott, S. & Smith, J. DRESS-down: /ε/-lowering in apparent time in a rural Scottish community Proceedings from the XVIII International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Glasgow
2013 Levon, E. & Holmes-Elliott, S. East end boys and west end girls: /s/-fronting in southeast England Penn Working Papers in Linguistics volume 19.2., Selected Papers from NWAV 41
2013 Smith, R., Holmes-Elliott, S., Pettinato, P. & Knight, R. Cross accent intelligibility of speech in noise: Long-term familiarity and short-term familiarisation Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology 67:3
2011 Stuart-Smith, J., Smith, R., Rathke, T., Li Santi, F., and Holmes, S. Responding to accents after experiencing interactive or mediated speech, Proceedings of the XVII International Congress of the Phonetic Sciences, Hong Kong
2016 Holmes-Elliott, S. Ladies first? Adolescent peaks in a male-led change: TH-fronting in southeast England Penn Working Papers in Linguistics volume 22.2., Selected Papers from NWAV 44
Work in progress
(submitted) Holmes-Elliott, S. & Levon, E. The substance of style: Gender, social class and interactional stance in southeast England.
(submitted) Holmes-Elliott, S. & Smith, J. Dressing down up north: a sociophonetic investigation into the relationship between DRESS-lowering and changes in /l/ quality
(submitted) Smith, J., & Holmes-Elliott, S. The unstoppable glottal: tracking rapid change in an iconic British variable
Below is a selection of presentations I have given over the last few years from my PhD and project work.
Please click on the linked titles to view the presentation.
Ladies first? Adolescent peaks in a male-led change | NWAV44, Toronto, Oct 2015
Peaks within phonology: examining the universality of adolescent peaks | Southern Englishes Workshop, Brighton, 2014