- Department: Language and Linguistic Science
- Module co-ordinator: Dr. Claire Childs
- Credit value: 20 credits
- Credit level: H
- Academic year of delivery: 2023-24
- See module specification for other years: 2022-23
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 regional dialects of British English and different methods of analysing this variation. You will apply this knowledge in an independent research project where you will collect and analyse data on a type of grammatical variation in a dialect or dialects of British English.
English Past & Present
Structure of English OR Morphology & Syntax
|A||Semester 1 2023-24|
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
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
Through this module, you will develop academic and graduate skills in:
reviewing and critically evaluating information
the analysis and interpretation of data
planning and managing a research project
oral communication (in seminars) and written communication (in assessments)
The module will cover:
Grammatical characteristics of different regional dialects of British English;
Methods of analysing grammatical variation, e.g. corpus-based analysis, acceptability judgement questionnaires;
Different domains of grammatical variation, e.g. negation, agreement;
Key approaches and concepts that aid our understanding of regional language variation and change, e.g. dialect levelling.
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Written feedback will be provided on formative and summative assessments within the University’s timescale for returning feedback. Students will also be able to seek additional feedback in office hours and the research project workshops in the Summer Term.
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.
Boberg, C., J. Nerbonne and D. Watt (eds). 2018. The Handbook of Dialectology. Oxford: Wiley Blackwell.
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. 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. Corrigan. 2005. Toward an integrated approach to syntactic variation: A retrospective and prospective synopsis. In L. Cornips and K. 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.