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Dialect stylization in radio talk

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  11 January 2002

NIKOLAS COUPLAND
Affiliation:
Centre for Language and Communication Research, Cardiff University, P.O. Box 94, Cardiff CF10 3XB, Wales, UK coupland@cardiff.ac.uk

Abstract

Stylization is the knowing deployment of culturally familiar styles and identities that are marked as deviating from those predictably associated with the current speaking context. Dialect stylization involves performing non-current-first-person personas by phonological and related means, sometimes in play or parody. Although these processes may seem to be very local, it is arguably true that dialects are increasingly experienced in reflexive and mediated environments that breed stylization. One of these is light entertainment on radio; this article analyzes data from English-language national radio broadcasts in Wales. Welshness is self-consciously evoked in the data, partly through dialect performance, where the variables (ou) and (ei) are a rich semiotic resource, linked to nondialectal means of evoking Welsh cultural stances and practices. Although stylization is a form of strategic de-authentication, its ultimate relationship with authenticity is complex. As a facet of cultural performance, stylization can be part of a process of cultural reproduction, and I argue that this is the best interpretation of the present data. As a result, sociolinguistics may need to reconsider its assumptions about cultural authenticity.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 2001 Cambridge University Press

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