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School of Languages, Linguistics and Film

LingLunch | Johanna Gerwin (QMUL, Kiel)

6 April 2022

Time: 2:00 - 3:00pm
Venue: Zoom link:; passcode: 477998

Dr Gerwin will give a talk entitled Enregisterment of London English: The ‘London Talks’ interviews
Abstract. The ‘London Talks’ interviews are part of an ongoing research project studying the enregisterment of London dialects by members of the local speech community. Through the process of enregisterment, linguistic features ‘become differentiable’ by being linked to meaningful social features of their speakers (Agha 2003; Silverstein 2003; Johnstone 2017). These links are created and (re-)negotiated through a variety of observable metadiscursive activities, such as, e.g., the invention and use of register names, or the creation of stereotypical dialect speakers representing the social values of the register (Agha 2007: 151).
The fieldwork is currently being conducted all over London and publicised as the project ‘London Talks’ ( It collects qualitative data on aspects of meta-discourse to establish how London speakers experience and conceptualize their own and fellow Londoners’ ways of speaking, labelled, e.g., Cockney, Estuary English or Multicultural London English/MLE. The conversations consist of elicited commentary on different London voices and informants’ descriptions of their own dialect and individual dialect biography. Based on a sample of participants, I will show that London varieties are enregistered differently for individuals, but that a community consensus can be established (cf. also Johnstone, Andrus & Danielson 2006).
The ‘London Talks’ fieldwork forms part of a larger study of the enregisterment of London English, which diachronically analyses meta-discourse about London varieties. Whereas (mass) media meta-discourse provides insight into the culturally and socially shaped registers from a ‘sender’ perspective, the interviews focus on the conceptualisation of dialect by individuals in the speech community and thus approach the questions of enregisterment from the ‘receiver’ perspective.
Agha, Asif. 2003. The social life of cultural value. Language and Communication 23. 231–273.
Agha, Asif. 2007. Language and Social Relations. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Johnstone, Barbara. 2017. Enregistering Dialect. In Lieselotte Anderwald & Jarich Hoekstra (eds.), Enregisterment - Zur sozialen Bedeutung sprachlicher Variation, 15–28. Frankfurt et al.: Peter Lang.
Johnstone, Barbara, Jennifer Andrus & Andrew E. Danielson. 2006. Mobility, Indexicality, and the Enregisterment of “Pittsburghese.” Journal of English Linguistics 34(2). 77–104.
Silverstein, Michael. 2003. Indexical order and the dialectics of sociolinguistic life. Language and Communication 23. 193–229.
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