What’s on : Cafe-scientifique
You’ve changed your tune: intonational variation and change in Middlesbrough (and York)
Dr Sam Hellmuth, Senior Lecturer, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York
Intonation patterns form a large part of how we characterise regional accents and dialects; it is not hard to think of dialects that meet the description of having ‘sing song’ intonation, for example. However, the description and documentation of variation in intonation patterns across English dialects lags far behind our understanding of other accent features such as vowels and consonants.
In this talk I offer a first description of Middlesbrough English intonation patterns and show that there is a stark difference in the intonation patterns used by younger and older speakers. Variation by age group is a common indicator of dialectal change, and in this case the intonational change closely matches previously documented change in Middlesbrough consonants (Llamas 2007).
The older Middlesbrough speakers use an intonation pattern which matches the stereotype of ‘a Yorkshire accent’ but there are no detailed descriptions of intonation in any North Yorkshire dialect. I’ll close with analysis of an initial set of recordings from York speakers which shows that older York speakers do indeed use the same rise-fall intonation pattern as the older Middlesbrough speakers, but that younger speakers (recorded so far) do not, suggesting potential change in York also.
Dr Sam Hellmuth is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. Sam studies the limits of variation in the sound systems of different languages and dialects, focussing on prosody (stress, rhythm and intonation), and with special interest in Arabic dialects, second language learners’ English and variation in regional dialects of the UK.
This event is part of the 2021 York Festival of Ideas and will be hosted by YPS on Zoom.
Free invitations available from the Festival of Ideas in early May – link below