From East to West? Dialect diffusion between Swindon and Bristol An analysis based on data gathered with the English Dialects app

Grossenbacher, Sarah (2 September 2016). From East to West? Dialect diffusion between Swindon and Bristol An analysis based on data gathered with the English Dialects app (Unpublished). In: Big data and bad data: challenges of quantitative and qualitative research methods in linguistics (CUSO workshop). Lausanne. 02.-03.09.2016.

Despite the fact that its data were collected more than 50 years ago, the Survey of English Dialects (SED) (Orton et al. 1962-71) remains the most recent nationwide study of English dialects. More recently, the English Dialects app (Leemann et al. 2016) was launched to gather new countrywide dialect data similar to the SED. Since its launch in January 2016, the English Dialects app has been highly successful: so far it has been downloaded more than 70’000 times, and more than 30’000 people from 4’000 locations around the UK have provided information on their pronunciation and use of certain words and colloquialisms. Moreover, users could also record themselves reading a story, which allows a more detailed linguistic analysis.
This very broad corpus, in both geographic and social terms, is suitable for the study of dialect diffusion. Here, using data gathered in the app, I analyse the spread of non-rhoticity and L- vocalisation into the South West of England, focussing on the area between Swindon and Bristol. A subcorpus of more than 900 speakers with various socio-economic backgrounds was used in order to examine what variables (gender, age, mobility, education) influence the adoption of these features. In addition, two geographical classifications were added, which will both shed light on how dialect diffusion is sensitive to the social characteristics of the different places studied. The analysis of 52 recordings further shows which linguistic environments are most likely to be affected by dialect diffusion and which ones are most likely to retain the traditional variant. In my talk I would like to show how I went about analysing these data, discuss some of the challenges I faced as well as present some of the major findings.

Item Type:

Conference or Workshop Item (Speech)


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

UniBE Contributor:

Grossenbacher, Sarah


400 Language > 410 Linguistics
400 Language > 420 English & Old English languages




Sarah Grossenbacher

Date Deposited:

22 Dec 2016 10:04

Last Modified:

22 Dec 2016 10:04


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