Ethnicity and Language Change

English in (London)Derry, Northern Ireland

Kevin McCafferty | University of Tromsø
ISBN 9789027218384 (Eur) | EUR 110.00
ISBN 9781588110022 (USA) | USD 165.00
ISBN 9789027299307 | EUR 110.00 | USD 165.00
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Part sociolinguistic, part ethnographic, this book takes up the neglected question of how ethnic division interacts with variation and change in Northern Irish English. It identifies an idealised folk model of harmonious
communities, in spite of the social divide and open conflict that have long affected the region; this model affects daily life and sociolinguistic studies alike. A reading of sociolinguistic studies from the region reveals
ethnolinguistic differentiation. Qualitative analysis of material from (London)Derry shows people often stressing tolerance in their community, while accounts of their activities contain evidence of ethnic division and strife. Quantitative analysis charts six changes in (London)Derry English. Variation correlates to varying degrees with age, ethnicity, class, sex and social network. The ethnic dimension, while not the most important parameter in all cases, plays a role in relation to all the changes examined.
Publishing status: Available
Table of Contents
“This book provides an extremely comprehensive overview of language variation and change in one Northern Irish community and the part ethnicity may play in this process [and] provides an invaluable addition to the inventory of world Englishes and the effects of ethnicity on language behaviour.”
“The book has much to recommend it. Written in a clear, unpretentious style, it takes the reader through the details of fieldwork and methods, a revisionist critique of sociolinguistic research in Northern Ireland, an account of ethnicity in Northern Ireland, based part on case studies and a study of linguistic variation in (London)Derry English. The author should be congratulated for his balanced approach towards sensitive issues: problems of data-collection in a divided community are discussed in detail, but not exaggerated; ethnicity as a factor in language variation is not inflated beyond the statistical significance of the results. Researchers in sociolinguistcs will find the book to their knowledge of the sociolinguistic scene in Northern Ireland, giving them a more nuanced picture of language use in this divided society. A must of an institutional or personal library.
“McCafferty's book represents real progress in the study of language and ethnicity in Northern Ireland.With some notable exceptions, there has been little attempt to contextualise language change within the discourses of nationalism and ethnicity. McCafferty's book is a particularly welcome contribution in this regard, and is highly recommended for anthropologists and linguists alike.”
“Views of sociolinguistic variation in Northern Irish English (NIE) have been dominated by the path-breaking work of Lesley Milroy (1980) and James Milroy (1992) and their associates on the Belfast project of the later 1970s, e.g. John Harris (1985). Kevin McCafferty, reporting on a very different speech community in (London)Derry, aims to change that. He has several bones to pick with the Milroys, and picks them well. In the process his valuable descriptive study contributes insights into pathways of diffusion, raises the profile of ethnicity in English dialectology, and gives a fine ethnographic characterization of a city he knows intimately. [...] this stimulating and combative study should win a wide readership, and I look forward to evaluations, rebuttals, and elaborations of its findings by other sociolinguists.
Cited by

Cited by 22 other publications

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This list is based on CrossRef data as of 14 february 2024. Please note that it may not be complete. Sources presented here have been supplied by the respective publishers. Any errors therein should be reported to them.


Main BIC Subject

CF: Linguistics

Main BISAC Subject

LAN009000: LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Linguistics / General
ONIX Metadata
ONIX 2.1
ONIX 3.0
U.S. Library of Congress Control Number:  00064203 | Marc record