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Though research on the multiethnolect spoken in London—Multicultural London English (MLE)—has described the social distribution of the variety, the stylistic potentials of MLE remain poorly understood. This article explores the enregisterment and subsequent ‘recontextualisation’ (Bauman & Briggs 1990) of MLE by analysing the linguistic and aesthetic components of a stylistic identity—the ‘roadman’. Specifically, I explore a corpus of TikTok videos to analyse the ways in which linguistic features characteristic of MLE (e.g. pronominal man, discourse-pragmatic styll, fronted /uː/) are co-opted and stylised in parodic performances of the roadman. I demonstrate that these linguistic features co-occur with tropes of personhood (e.g. participation in grime music, overt heterosexuality, a streetwear aesthetic) that are ideologically associated with a particular type of gendered, classed, and racialized identity. Concluding, I reflect on the status of the roadman persona with reference to contemporary patterns of language variation in the UK. (Multicultural London English, personae, digital culture, TikTok, stylisation, performance)*
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.
In recent years, the East End of London has been dramatically transformed from a poor, working-class area, to one of the most fashionable neighbourhoods in the world. Adding to a growing body of research which examines the sociolinguistic dynamics of gentrifying neighbourhoods, this article draws on data from two ethnographic projects to examine how young people from the gentrified (i.e. working-class) and gentrifier (i.e. middle-class) communities index place attachment in East London. I demonstrate that for the gentrified community, place attachment is related to the ethnic and cultural genealogy of the immediate, local neighbourhood. Whilst for the gentrifiers, place identity is associated with the cosmopolitan economic and social opportunities of the city. I argue that whilst these communities occupy the same physical neighbourhood, these discourses suggest that they conceptually and socioculturally reside in two very different cities. (Gentrification, place, space, East London)*