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Class matters: the sociolinguistics of goose and goat in Manchester English

  • Maciej Baranowski (a1)


This paper reports on patterns of sociolinguistic variation and change in Manchester's goose and goat vowels on the basis of the acoustic analysis of 122 speakers, stratified by age, gender, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity. Goose fronting is an internal change showing little social differentiation, except before /l/ as in school and pool, where, in contrast to most other dialects of English, goose shows advanced fronting inversely correlated with socioeconomic status. Goat fronting, on the other hand, is a change brought from outside the dialect by the highest status groups, displaying a pattern of monotonic social stratification, a female lead, and a strong effect of ethnicity. The role of attitudes toward the community in the realization of the vowels is compared with the effect of social class construed in terms of distances between social groups. Social class turns out to be a better predictor, suggesting that the role of attitudes and identity may be overestimated in research eschewing a systematic exploration of social class at the same time.

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