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    Broad, strong, and soft: using geospatial analysis to understand folk-linguistic terminology

    Dann, Holly, Drummond, Robert ORCID logoORCID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5212-5337, Tasker, Sarah, Montgomery, Chris, Ryan, Sadie and Carrie, Erin (2023) Broad, strong, and soft: using geospatial analysis to understand folk-linguistic terminology. Journal of Linguistic Geography. ISSN 2049-7547 (In Press)

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    Abstract

    This study uses a modified online version of the ‘draw-a-map’ task and Garrett et al.’s (2005b) ‘keywords’ methodology to explore the geospatial distribution of different accent and dialect labels and descriptors in Greater Manchester, UK. Specifically, we consider the distribution of the three most frequent labels related to ‘accentedness’: Broad, Strong, and Soft, as provided by 349 Greater Manchester residents. This analysis finds that these descriptors were clustered in separate areas of Greater Manchester, suggesting that they were being used to describe perceptually distinct varieties of English. In order to uncover the nuances in these folk-linguistic terms, we consider how they correlate with other concepts emerging from the dataset, finding that they are being used to differentiate between varieties with contrasting social associations. By combining innovative approaches, this study demonstrates how the subtleties of folk-linguistic modes of awareness can be uncovered through in-depth analysis of the terminology employed to describe linguistic variation on a very local scale. In so doing, it paves the way for further development of draw-a-map techniques that will enable similarly nuanced analysis in different regions, thus pushing the sub-discipline forward.

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