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Claire Ashmore

Claire Ashmore

Dialect and identity in Chesterfield: A perceptual and apparent-time study

Discipline/professional area
Humanities, English Language


Outline of research project

My research centres on (perceptions of) the accent and dialect of Chesterfield, a town in North East Derbyshire. Chesterfield is just 12 miles south of Sheffield, South Yorkshire. Sheffield is largely considered to be at the start of the perceptual “North” by my respondents. Meanwhile, Chesterfield is officially part of the East Midlands, an area which has been under-researched in terms of dialect, and even described as “neither here nor there” (Wales 2000: 7-8). How Chesterfield locals view their identity, as northerners or midlanders, is one strand of my research, using perceptual mapping as a research tool (Preston 1982). Perceptual recognition tasks (Preston 1999) are also used to ascertain how successfully Chesterfield residents recognise local accents, and to identify the markers of those accents to Chesterfield participants. Finally, the vowel sounds MOUTH, FACE and GOAT (Wells 1982) are analysed in Chesterfield speech across three generations to learn how the Chesterfield accent is changing, and whether Chesterfield people are beginning to sound more like they come from Sheffield.

Key References

Preston, D. R. (1982). Perceptual dialectology: Mental maps of United States dialects from a Hawaiian perspective. Hawaii Working Papers in Linguistics. 14(2): 5-49.

Preston, D.R. (Ed.) (1999). Handbook of Perceptual Dialectology: Volume 1. Philadelphia: John Benjamins Publishing Company.

Wales, K. (2000). North and South: An English linguistic divide? English Today 61. 16 (1); 4-15.

Wells, J.C. (1982). Accents of English 2: The British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Director of studies
Dr David Peplow

Dr Karen Grainger
Professor Joan Beal

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