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PhD Thesis

My PhD research looks at the acquisition of local accent features by native Polish speakers living in Manchester. Please click here for a pdf copy of my thesis. If you have any problems, please use the contact page to get in touch.


Sociolinguistic variation in a second language: the influence of local accent on the pronunciation of non-native English speakers living in Manchester.

This study is an investigation into sociolinguistic variation in a second language. More specifically, it is an investigation into the extent to which speakers of English as a second language acquire particular features of the variety of English they are exposed to. The speakers in question are Polish migrants, and the variety of English is that found in Manchester, a city in the North West of England.

The research uses data gathered from 41 participants who have been inManchester for various lengths of time and who came to the UK for a wide range of reasons. The aim was to explore the extent to which local accent features are acquired by second language English speakers, and the linguistic and social factors which influence this acquisition.

Methodologically, the research draws on practices from variationist sociolinguistics, but by using them in a second language context, the study has the additional aim of developing the link between these two areas of study.

Four linguistic features were identified, on the basis of them each exhibiting local variants that differ from any pedagogical model of English the speakers will have been exposed to in Poland. All four demonstrated some degree of change towards the local variants in the speech of many of the participants, but to greatlydiffering degrees. Multiple regression analyses helped to determine which factors might be influencing the patterns of variation, with the social constraints of length of residence, level of English, gender, attitude, and identity among those believed to be playing a part.

The thesis ends with a discussion exploring the implications of the findings in terms of existing and future research, and looks at how they might usefully be applied to situations outside that of academic linguistics.