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Dialect Grammar of British English - LAN00079H

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  • Department: Language and Linguistic Science
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Claire Childs
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2022-23

Module summary

For all it is a relatively small geographical area, Britain is home to a vast range of different regional dialects. People often identify language varieties by the way they sound, but how similar or different are they in terms of their grammar? Can we identify robust dialect areas on the basis of grammatical properties, or are the boundaries less clear-cut? In this module, you will learn about grammatical variation and change in British English regional dialects. The module will introduce you to different approaches to dialect variation, as used in dialectology, sociolinguistics and syntax. You will study how dialects vary with respect to different grammatical domains. You will apply this knowledge in an independent research project where you will collect and analyse data on an aspect of grammatical variation in British English.

Related modules

Co-requisite modules

  • None

Prohibited combinations

  • None

Additional information


  • Introduction to Syntax OR Understanding English Grammar

  • Introduction to Sociolinguistics

It might be useful to have completed Intermediate Language Variation and Change but this is not a requirement. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching period
A Spring Term 2022-23 to Summer Term 2022-23

Module aims

  • To develop your knowledge of dialect variation in Britain

  • To enhance your understanding of different aspects of English grammar

  • To enhance your understanding of different approaches to the analysis of grammatical variation and change

  • To equip you with practical skills in hypothesis testing, research methods, and carrying out an independent research project

Module learning outcomes

On completion of this module, you should be able to:

  • identify and analyse grammatical properties of British English dialects
  • evaluate how these vary regionally within Britain
  • understand internal and external constraints on grammatical variation
  • evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of different research methods for grammatical analysis
  • design and successfully conduct a small research project into grammatical variation and change

Module content

Indicative topics:

  • Overview of dialects of Britain
  • Methods: corpus data
  • Methods: acceptability judgements
  • Agreement
  • Negation
  • Pronoun variation
  • Regional dialect levelling
  • Socio-syntax
  • The future of dialect research
  • Research project workshops


Task Length % of module mark
Data Exercise
N/A 30
Research Project Write-Up
N/A 70

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Data Exercise
N/A 30
Research Project Write-Up
N/A 70

Module feedback

Students will receive written feedback on their formative and summative assessments according to the University's Policy on Assessment Feedback Turnaround Time. There will also be opportunities to discuss feedback with the module convenor in office hours.

Indicative reading

Beal, J. C. 2004. English dialects in the North of England: Morphology and syntax. In B. Kortmann, K. Burridge, R. Mesthrie, E. Schneider and C. Upton (eds) A Handbook of Varieties of English, Volume 2: Morphology and Syntax. Berlin: de Gruyter. 114-141.

Britain, D. 2007. Grammatical variation in England. In D. Britain (ed.) Language in the British Isles. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 75-104.

Buchstaller, I. and K. P. Corrigan. 2011. 'How to make intuitions succeed: Testing methods for analysing syntactic microvariation'. In W. Maguire and A. McMahon (eds) Analysing Variation in English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 30-48.

Cornips, L. and K. P. Corrigan. 2005. Toward an integrated approach to syntactic variation: A retrospective and prospective synopsis. In L. Cornips and K. P. Corrigan (eds) Syntax and Variation: Reconciling the Biological and the Social. Amsterdam: John Benjamins. 1-27.

Szmrecsanyi, B. 2013. Grammatical Variation in British English Dialects: A Study in Corpus-Based Dialectometry. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.