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Sandow, Rhys J..pdf (4.68 MB)

Anglo-Cornish dialect lexis: variation, change, and social meaning

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posted on 2023-06-09, 22:50 authored by Rhys Sandow
I present a study of variation, change, and social meaning of Anglo-Cornish dialect lexis. This study is informed by a year-long ethnographic participant-observation in the Cornish towns on Camborne and Redruth as well as novel lexis-oriented sociolinguistic interviews with 87 participants from the same area. I investigate the inter-speaker variation of semasiological and onomasiological usage by conducting a quantitative analysis of the relationship between lexis and age, gender, socioeconomic class, and strength of Cornish identity. I also analyse onomasiological variation from the perspective of intra-speaker variation by comparing casual and careful speech. Additionally, using the meta-linguistic narratives of participants, I detail the attested social meanings of the investigated words, crib, croust, maid, stank, and emmet. I propose that variation in usage and perception of Anglo-Cornish lexis can be accounted for by Cornish identity, not only in terms of strength but also by type. I suggest that participants’ identities orient to two types of Cornish identity, namely the Industrial Celt and Lifestyle Cornwall. The key findings of this study are that the best predictor of Anglo-Cornish lexical usage is the strength of local identity and that Anglo-Cornish onomasiological forms are most likely to occur in careful speech styles. This is an inverted pattern of style-shifting. That is, the style pattern observed in this study is the inverse of the style pattern typically attested in variationist sociolinguistics (see Labov 1972a). I account for this pattern by suggesting that Anglo-Cornish forms accrue value from a specifically Cornish linguistic market (see Bourdieu 1991) and by introducing an attention-to-self model of style which suggests that when speakers pay greater attention to their speech, they use language to approximate a desired self that they aspire to embody, which, in many cases, is a Cornish self.


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