Apparent time changes in the phonological forms and pragmatic use of because in Bolton, Lancashire English

Abstract : The present contribution intends to analyse patterns of full and reduced forms of because in Lancashire (Bolton) English, as observed in its ca. 300 occurrences in the semi-guided and free conversations in the corpus of spoken Lancashire English of the PAC project (Carr, Durand & Pukli 2004, Durand & Pukli 2004). This component of the PAC project, collected on the networking principle used by Labov and the Milroys in various studies and recorded in late 2002, comprises recordings from 10 speakers (1 male and 9 females) between 23 and 83 years of age, with the interviews running to a total of 5 hours. While the data can be regarded as relatively small, they are varied enough to make sense of the observable patterns in terms of apparent-time changes, both as far as the phonological variants of because and its pragmatic uses are concerned. It will be demonstrated that the distribution of the phonological variants shows changes in apparent time. Firstly, the oldest speaker did not use monosyllabic forms at all while the two next oldest speakers still did not have the same range of variants as middle-aged and youngest speakers in the corpus did. Secondly, even the occurrence and distribution of monosyllabic forms confirms an apparent-time change in the corpus. The LPD (Wells 2008) lists variants across standard varieties that can differ according to 4 factors: the identity of the stressed vowel: /ɒ ɔ: ʌ ɑ:/ (even /ə/!); the voicing of the final sibilant: /s/ vs. /z/; the amount of reduction in the unstressed vowel: /ə i/; and mono- or disyllabicity. Corpus data from Bolton reveal, beyond the variants just mentioned, further reduced variants. A variant [bʊ'kɒz], with a labial, or at least labial-coloured, unstressed vowel, occurs a few times in one speaker in the more formal semi-guided interview. In the same type of dialogue, a curious variant [tə'kɒz] occurs in another speaker a number of times. Finally, the data clearly show that the distribution of mono- and disyllabic forms does not depend either on speech rate or on the informality of the context: in other words, this variation is not a fast speech reduction process. From a pragmatic point of view, because occurs in various discourse functions, not all of which are found equally across different ages. This also points towards changes in apparent time. For example, the discourse progression structure A–because B–so A' (described by Passot 2007 based on another spoken corpus of RP) is virtually absent in the data from older speakers in Bolton. Corpus data further reveal occurrences of a modified template for this structure, apparently not discussed in the literature so far, where A' is supplied by the conversation partner. Finally, younger speakers frequently use because to elicit further information on the topic under discussion (absent from middle-aged and younger speakers) and use 'style disjuncts' (Quirk et al. 1985:615) much more readily to ''[define] in some way under what conditions [they are] speaking as the 'authority' of the utterance''. References Carr, Philip, Jacques Durand & Monika Pukli. 2004. PAC project: Principles and Methods. In La Tribune Internationale des Langues Vivantes (TILV), Vol. 36: 24-35. Durand, J. & M. Pukli. 2004. How to construct a phonological corpus: PRAAT and the PAC project. Tribune Internationale des Langues Vivantes (TILV), Vol. 36: 36-46. Passot, Frederique. 2007. A because B so A'. Circularity and discourse progression in conversational English. In: Agnes Celle & Ruth Huart (eds.) Connectives as Discourse Landmarks. John Benjamins Amsterdam/Philadelphia. pp.117-134. Quirk, Randolph, Sidney Greenbaum, Geoffrey Leech, Jan Svartvik. 1985. A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language. Longman, London and New York.
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Daniel Huber. Apparent time changes in the phonological forms and pragmatic use of because in Bolton, Lancashire English. The second symposium on Historical Phonology, 3-4 December 2015, Edinburgh, Dec 2015, Edinburgh, United Kingdom. ⟨hal-02074819⟩

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