Hostname: page-component-5d59c44645-7l5rh Total loading time: 0 Render date: 2024-02-20T17:20:32.563Z Has data issue: false hasContentIssue false

‘Ey, wait, wait, gully!’ Style, stance and the social meaning of attention signals in East London adolescent speech

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  09 June 2021

CHRISTIAN ILBURY*
Affiliation:
Department of EnglishUniversity of SuffolkIpswich IP4 1QJ UKc.Ilbury@uos.ac.uk

Abstract

Recent accounts of discourse-pragmatic (DP) variation have demonstrated that these features can acquire social indexical meaning. However, in comparison to other linguistic variables, DP features remain underexplored and third-wave perspectives on the topic are limited. In this article, I analyse the distribution, function and social meaning of the ‘attention signals’ – those features which fulfil the explicit function of eliciting the attention of an individual – in just over 35 hours of self-recordings of 25 adolescents collected during a year-long sociolinguistic ethnography of an East London youth group. This leads me to identify an innovative attention signal – ey. Distributional analyses of this feature show that ey is associated with a particular Community of Practice, the self-defined and exclusively male ‘gully’. By examining the discourse junctures at which ey occurs, I argue that this attention signal is most frequently used by speakers to deploy a ‘dominant’ stance. For gully members, this feature is particularly useful as an interpersonal device, where it is used to manage ingroup/outgroup boundaries. Concluding, I link the use of ey and the gully identity to language, ethnicity and masculinity in East London.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © The Author(s), 2021. Published by Cambridge University Press

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)

Footnotes

This work was supported by the Economic and Social Research Council (grant no. 1645508). I am extremely grateful to the reviewers and editors of ELL who provided detailed and incisive comments on earlier versions of this article. A special thanks also to the audience of UKLVC12 for their helpful remarks. I am indebted to the young people and staff at Lakeside, without whom this research would not be possible. I alone am responsible for any remaining errors or shortcomings.

References

Adams, Zoe. 2018. ‘I don't know why man's calling me family all of a sudden’: Address and reference terms in grime music. Language and Communication 60, 1127.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Aijmer, Karin. 2015. English discourse particles: Evidence from a corpus. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.Google Scholar
Andersen, Gisle. 2001. Pragmatic markers and sociolinguistic variation: A relevance theoretic approach to the language of adolescents. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Androutsopoulos, Jannis. 2008. Potentials and limitations of discourse-centred online ethnography. Language@Internet 5(8). Retrieved from: www.languageatinternet.org/articles/2008/1610Google Scholar
Bakkali, Yusef. 2018. Life on road: Symbolic struggle & the munpain. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sussex.Google Scholar
Barron, Lee. 2013. The sound of street corner society: UK grime music as ethnography. European Journal of Cultural Studies 16(5), 531–47.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bates, Douglas, Mächler, Martin, Bolker, Ben & Walker, Steve. 2015. Fitting linear mixed-effects models using lme4x. Journal of Statistical Software 67, 148.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Boakye, Jeffrey. 2017. Hold tight: Black masculinity, millennials, and the meaning of Grime. London: Influx Press.Google Scholar
Brown, Penelope & Levinson, Stephen C.. 1987. Politeness: Some universals in language usage. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Bucholtz, Mary. 2010. White kids: Language, race, and styles of youth identity. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Buchstaller, Isabelle. 2014. Quotatives: New trends and sociolinguistic implications. English World-Wide 37(1), 103–8.Google Scholar
Campbell-Kibler, Kathryn. 2010. The sociolinguistic variant as a carrier of social meaning. Language Variation and Change 22(3), 423–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Cheshire, Jenny, Fox, Sue, Kerswill, Paul & Torgersen, Eivind. 2008. Ethnicity, friendship network and social practices as the motor of dialect change: Linguistic innovation in London. In Ammon, Ulrich & Mattheier, Klaus J. (eds.), Sociolinguistica: International yearbook of European sociolinguistics, vol. 22, 123. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer.Google Scholar
Cheshire, Jenny, Kerswill, Paul, Fox, Sue & Torgersen, Eivind. 2011. Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15(2), 151–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Corrigan, Karen P. 2015. ‘I always think of people here, you know, saying “like” after every sentence’: The dynamics of discourse-pragmatic markers in Northern Irish English. In Amador-Moreno, Carolina, McCafferty, Kevin & Vaughan, Elaine (eds.), Pragmatic markers in Irish English, 3764. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
D'Arcy, Alexandra. 2017. Discourse-pragmatic variation in context: Eight hundred years of LIKE. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Decapua, Andrea & Boxer, Diana. 1999. Bragging, boasting and bravado: Male banter in a brokerage house. Women and Language 22(1), 512.Google Scholar
Denis, Derek & Tagliamonte, Sali A.. 2016. Innovation, right? Change, you know? Utterance-final tags in Canadian English. In Pichler, (ed.), 86112.Google Scholar
Drager, Katie. 2016. Constructing style: Phonetic variation in discursive functions of like. In Pichler, (ed.), 232–51.Google Scholar
Drummond, Rob. 2018. Researching urban youth language and identity. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Du Bois, John W. 2002. Stance and consequence. Paper presented at the Annual Meeting of the American Anthropological Association, New Orleans.Google Scholar
Du Bois, John W. 2007. The stance triangle. In Englebretson, Robert (ed.), Stancetaking in discourse: Subjectivity, evaluation, interaction, 139–82. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dubois, Betty Lou. 1989. Pseudoquotation in current English communication: ‘Hey, she didn't really say it’. Language in Society 18(3), 343–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eckert, Penelope. 2012. Three waves of variation study: The emergence of meaning in the study of sociolinguistic variation. Annual Review of Anthropology 41, 87100.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Eddo-Lodge, Reni. 2017. Why I'm no longer talking to White people about race. London: Bloomsbury.Google Scholar
Fox Tree, Janet. 2010. Discourse markers across speakers and settings. Language and Linguistics Compass 4(5), 269–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Franklyn, Julian. 1953. The Cockney: A survey of London life and language. London: André Deutsch.Google Scholar
Gates, Shivonne M. 2018. Language variation and ethnicity in a multicultural East London secondary school. Unpublished PhD thesis, Queen Mary University of London.Google Scholar
Gold, Elaine & Tremblay, Mireille. 2006. Eh? and Hein? Discourse particles or national icons? The Canadian Journal of Linguistics 51(2), 247–63.Google Scholar
Greater London Authority (GLA). 2020. Excel mapping template for London boroughs and wards. Available at: https://data.london.gov.uk/dataset/excel-mapping-template-for-london-boroughs-and-wards [accessed 20 October 2020].Google Scholar
Gunter, Anthony. 2008. Growing up bad: Black youth, ‘road’ culture and badness in an East London neighbourhood. Crime, Media, Culture: An International Journal 4(3), 349–66.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Hoffmann, Sebastian, Evert, Stefan, Smith, Nicholas, Lee, David & Prytz, Ylva Berglund. 2008. Corpus linguistics with BNCweb: A practical guide. Frankfurt am Main: Peter Lang.Google Scholar
Hothorn, Torsten. 2019. Multcomp package. https://cran.r-project.org/web/packages/multcomp/multcomp.pdf [accessed 20 October 2020].Google Scholar
Ilan, Jonathon. 2015. Understanding street culture: Poverty, crime, youth and cool. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Ilbury, Christian. 2020. Beyond the offline: Social media and the social meaning of variation in East London. Unpublished PhD thesis, Queen Mary University of London.Google Scholar
Ilbury, Christian. 2021. A tale of two cities: The discursive construction of ‘place’ in gentrifying East London. Language in Society [published online 22 March 2021].CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Patwah, Jamaican. n.d. http://jamaicanpatwah.com/ [accessed 2 November 2020].Google Scholar
Kiesling, Scott F. 1998. Men's identities and sociolinguistic variation: The case of fraternity men. Journal of Sociolinguistics 2(1), 6999.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kiesling, Scott F. 2005. Homosocial desire in men's talk: Balancing and recreating cultural discourses of masculinity. Language in Society 34, 695727.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Kirkham, Sam & Moore, Emma. 2016. Constructing social meaning in political discourse: Phonetic variation and verb processes in Ed Miliband's speeches. Language in Society 45, 87111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Labov, William. 1972. Sociolinguistic patterns. Philadelphia, PA: University of Pennsylvania Press.Google Scholar
Lave, Jean & Wenger, Etienne. 1991. Situated learning: Legitimate peripheral participation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lawson, Robert. 2014. ‘Don't even [θ/f/h]ink aboot it’: An ethnographic investigation of social meaning, social identity and (θ) variation in Glasgow. English World-Wide 35(1), 6893.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lees, Loretta, Slater, Tom & Wyly, Elvin K.. 2008. Gentrification. Abingdon: Routledge.Google Scholar
Levon, Erez. 2016. Gender, interaction and intonational meaning: The discourse function of High Rising Terminals in London. Journal of Sociolinguistics 20, 133–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mendoza-Denton, Norma. 2008. Homegirls: Language and cultural practice among Latina youth gangs. Malden, MA: Blackwell.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moore, Emma. 2003. Learning style and identity: A sociolinguistic analysis of a Bolton high school. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Manchester.Google Scholar
Moore, Emma & Podesva, Robert. 2009. Style, indexicality, and the social meaning of tag questions. Language in Society 38, 447–85.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Nichols, Katherine. 2017. Banter, masculinities and Rugby Union: Exploring the relationship between masculinity and humour in men's lived realities of gender in a Northern rugby club. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.Google Scholar
Norrick, Neal. 2009. Interjections as pragmatic markers. Journal of Pragmatics 41, 866–91.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Martínez, Palacios, Ignacio, M. 2015. Variation, development and pragmatic uses of innit in the language of British adults and teenagers. English Language & Linguistics 19(3), 383405.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pichler, Heike. 2013. The structure of discourse-pragmatic variation. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pichler, Heike (ed.). 2016a. Discourse-pragmatic variation and change in English: New methods and insights. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Pichler, Heike. 2016b. Uncovering discourse-pragmatic innovations: Innit in Multicultural London English. In Pichler, (ed.), 5985.Google Scholar
R Core Team. 2020. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing. Available at www.R-project.orgGoogle Scholar
Robb, John. 2012. Punk rock: An oral history. London: Ebury Press.Google Scholar
Robinson, Peter. 2017. Easy as hey, B, C: How this euphoric yell took over pop music. The Guardian. www.theguardian.com/music/2017/may/01/how-hey-took-over-pop-music [accessed 1 April 2021].Google Scholar
Schourup, Lawrence Clifford. 1985. Common discourse particles in English conversation. New York: Garland.Google Scholar
Terkourafi, Marina. 2011. The pragmatic variable: Toward a procedural interpretation. Language in Society 40(3), 343–72.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Urbandictionary.com. 2003. Ay. www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=Ay [accessed 1 April 2021].Google Scholar
Urbandictionary.com. 2005. Ey. www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=ey [accessed 1 April 2021].Google Scholar
Waters, Cathleen. 2016. Practical strategies for elucidating discourse-pragmatic variation. In Pichler, (ed.), 4156.Google Scholar