Dialectology between candyfloss and dodgems

Grossenbacher, Sarah (13 December 2018). Dialectology between candyfloss and dodgems (Unpublished). In: Language, dialect and periphery. Universität Bern, Schweiz. 13.-15. December 2018.

This project aims to investigate the previously undescribed English variety spoken by travelling Showpeople in England. Travelling Showpeople are a cultural group who live a nomadic lifestyle due to their occupation which mainly entails operating travelling funfairs. Despite the fact that funfairs are an important event in the calendar of most English towns and cities, very little is known about the community behind the candyfloss stalls or dodgems. They are described as an extremely close-knit, family-centred community who have little contact with the settled population.

Why is it important to analyse a dialect spoken by a community “operating on the fringes of
society” (Toulmin 2003: 61)? Firstly, English dialectology has tended to shun nomadic speakers since they are often not deemed to represent authentic speakers of a place. Despite
the existence of various nomadic groups in England, there has always been a strong focus on
geographical continuity and local embeddedness, although studies on nonlocal mobile members of the community have highlighted their importance in influencing and understanding language change (e.g. Cheshire/Kerswill/Fox/Torgersen 2011; Horvath 1985, summarised in Britain 2016). The study of the Showpeople's dialect allows us to analyse the influence of routine forms of mobility on the establishment of community dialect norms. Secondly, the Travelling Showpeople are a relatively isolated community with a distinctive lifestyle. Analysing their dialect will enable us to theorise to what extent such speakers are able to acquire sedentary dialect norms and how language change enters such communities and is transmitted from one generation to the next.

Here, I will briefly introduce you to this research project. In particular, I will present, question and discuss the methodological practicalities of it.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures
06 Faculty of Humanities > Department of Linguistics and Literary Studies > Institute of English Languages and Literatures > Modern English Linguistics

UniBE Contributor:

Grossenbacher, Sarah


400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages
800 Literature, rhetoric & criticism > 820 English & Old English literatures




Marion Irena Troxler

Date Deposited:

19 Dec 2018 15:40

Last Modified:

11 Oct 2021 09:31



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