Intonation patterns form a large part of how we characterise regional accents and dialects; it is not hard to think of dialects that meet the description of having ‘sing song’ intonation, for example. However, the description and documentation of variation in intonation patterns across English dialects lags far behind our understanding of other accent features such as vowels and consonants.
Linguist Sam Hellmuth of the University of York provides a first description of Middlesbrough English intonation patterns and shows that there is a stark difference in the intonation patterns used by younger and older speakers.
Variation by age group is a common indicator of dialectal change, and in this case the intonational change closely matches previously documented change in Middlesbrough consonants. Older Middlesbrough speakers use an intonation pattern which matches the stereotype of ‘a Yorkshire accent’, which we also see in recordings of older (but not younger) York speakers.
This event is hosted by the Yorkshire Philosophical Society as part of its York Café Scientifique series.
The event will take place live on Zoom Webinar. You’ll receive a link to join a couple of days before the event takes place and a reminder an hour before. During the event, you can ask questions via a Q&A function but audience cameras and microphones will remain muted throughout.
About the speaker
Dr Sam Hellmuth is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Language and Linguistic Science at the University of York. She studies the limits of variation in the sound systems of different languages and dialects, focussing on prosody (stress, rhythm and intonation), and with special interest in Arabic dialects, second language learners’ English and variation in regional dialects of the UK.
Yorkshire Philosophical Society
The Yorkshire Philosophical Society (YPS) offers activities and an annual lecture series to stimulate interest in and improve public understanding of natural sciences and social sciences. Lectures are provided with the support of York Museums Trust, the Yorkshire Geological Society, and the North Yorkshire Network of the Institution of Engineering Technology (IET).