Changes on Tyneside: urban regeneration vs. vernacular revival

Marie Møller Jensen

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Individuals must increasingly construct their identity in the face of changing communities and a globalizing world. The north of England, and Newcastle as a case in point, is often thought of and portrayed in mainstream media as backwards and working-class (Lancaster 1995). However, The Quayside of Newcastle has in recent years been witness to a so-called ‘culture-led regeneration’. But is there any room in the developed Newcastle for the working-class Northerner? With a commodified dialect for sale at the local tourist office (Beal 2009) and increasing developments focusing on more ‘middle-class values’ such as modern art and classical music (Miles 2005), where is the vernacular Tyneside speaker meant to find their identity? This paper presents the results of a study investigating morphosyntactic change in Tyneside English based on the NECTE corpus. Pilot studies examining the frequency patterning of two variables, sentential negation and personal pronouns, found that the use of these vernacular morphosyntactic features is increasing, in particular among young working class males. This result is in contrast with Watt’s 2002 phonological study of the variety which showed that certain phonological variables are moving toward regional and thus less localised forms. This paper argues that the revival of vernacular morphosyntactic forms by the younger generation can be linked to the formation of an exclusively Tyneside identity centred on a sense of place, a linguistic dimension to a geographical space to which the speakers belong. The creation of a local identity in the face of increasing globalisation and urban developments has also been found in other places outside the Tyneside conurbation (Llamas 2006, Burbano-Elizondo 2006). In this way, sociolinguistic studies not only unravel language variation, they can also illuminate the repercussions changes to a social landscape can have on the people who inhabit it.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011
EventInterdisciplinary Linguistics Conference - Queen’s University Belfast
Duration: 1 Oct 2011 → …


ConferenceInterdisciplinary Linguistics Conference
Period1/10/11 → …


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