Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Accent and Identity: Where do the East Midlands fit in the North/South divide?

Natalie Braber reports back from the Borders and Identities Conference.

In the worst of the recent weather, I braved the snow and ice to travel to attend the Borders and Identities Conference (BIC2010) which took place 8-9 January at Newcastle University. This was the first BIC Conference, and has been started under the auspices of the Accent and Identity on the Scottish/English Border (AISEB) project. The main aim of this conference was to examine in more detail the current state of knowledge in this field of study and to relate linguistic studies to other fields of enquiry to further interdisciplinary with other disciplines. Although research on ‘borderlands’ is well-established in the social sciences, it is only within recent years that interest in has taken hold within the fields of sociolinguistics and the sociology of language.

I had been accepted to give a poster presentation on a project I’ve recently started work on which looks at the question ‘Where do the East Midlands fit in the North/South divide?’ Although this divide is a frequently talked about phenomenon, there is much disagreement about where this border can be placed – and Nottingham (and the East Midlands) fall right into this potential border area. From the sixteenth century onwards there have been references to the river Trent as being a cultural and linguistic divide between North and South. Linguistically, language in Nottingham and the East Midlands is a much neglected variety and much more needs to be learned about its particular features.

The work I have carried out so far (funded by SIS – Stimulating Innovation for Success at NTU) has collected a small sample of voices from Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Nottinghamshire to examine the variation found within the East Midlands, comparing these findings with previous research. It also considers future work which needs to be carried out within this field – re-examining the perception of the North-South divide and how the East Midlands fit into such a division, as viewed both by those from the East Midlands and from around the UK.

The conference took place in The Assembly Rooms which was a great location for a conference – it had plenty of space for delegates to mingle and discuss projects during coffee and lunch breaks. Fortunately, most of the delegates made it through the bad weather and the conference was so successful that discussions about the next location are already taking place.

(photo credit: John the Scone; permissions)

1 comment:

  1. Thank for sharing good and useful information. This information is very valuable.

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