Gabrielatos, Costas and Torgersen, Eivind (2008) A corpus-based analysis of indefinite article use in London English. In: Joint meeting of the Corpus Research Group and the Language Variation and Change Research Group, 2008-06-23. (Unpublished)
So far, there has been little collaboration between sociolinguists and corpus linguists. This is surprising, since empirical sociolinguistic research requires large datasets in order to be able to draw reliable conclusions, and corpus linguistics has the tools and methodology to deal with such datasets efficiently and accurately. This study is working towards bridging the gap between these two strands of linguistics. In some British English dialects, speakers may have ‘a’ before words beginning with vowels, where ‘an’ would be expected (in terms of standard English). These dialects thus lack the standard English alternation between ‘a’ and ‘an’. This is also found in language contact communities, such as London. The presentation outlines the corpus-based examination of indefinite article use by samples of residents in two London Boroughs: Hackney and Havering. The corpus is around 1.4 million words and consists of the transcribed interview data from the Lancaster/Queen Mary ESRC-funded project, Linguistic innovators: the English of adolescents in London. We have examined both the linguistic (phonological) and sociolinguistic contexts in which the indefinite article occurs.
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