Scottish ‘EastEnders’ fans are turning ’ochney: study shows how telly viewing accelerates language change

 

Lucy Bogustawski
Monday 09 September 2013 22:00
Comments
Is your living room starting to sound like The Queen Vic?
Is your living room starting to sound like The Queen Vic?

Scots may be adopting Cockney slang after research found that watching television could be a factor in accent change.

Caledonian fans of the long-running BBC soap EastEnders were shown in a study to have variations in pronunciation, according to University of Leicester experts.

They found two particular features of speech typically associated with London English that were becoming increasingly apparent in the Glaswegian dialect among people who regularly watched the TV drama.

The features were using “f” for “th” in words like “think” and “tooth”, and using a vowel sound like that in “good” in place of an “I” sound in words like “milk” and “people”. The study, funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and published in the American journal Language, is the first evidence that active and engaged television viewing helps to accelerate language change.

Researchers said the results show significant correlations between using these features and strong emotional and psychological engagement by the viewers of the programme.

But simply being exposed to television is not sufficient to cause accent change. For speech to alter, viewers must regularly watch the show and become emotionally engaged with the characters.

The authors said television and other forms of popular media constitute one of many factors that help accelerate language change and more powerful factors, such as social interaction between peers, has a much stronger effect on language change.

Professor Barrie Gunter, of the University of Leicester’s Department of Media and Communication, said: “When people move to new geographical locations they take their speech patterns with them. If sufficient numbers of people move in this way, alien speech patterns can become integrated with the local speech vernacular.

“Although the mass media have previously been referred to anecdotally as playing a part in this process, this research has provided more systematic, scientific evidence for this effect.”

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged in