The enregisterment of Northern English

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In this chapter, we discuss the processes whereby northern varieties of English became recognised and evaluated as distinct from others. The theoretical framework for the chapter will be that of indexicality and enregisterment, the latter term defined by Agha as a set of “processes through which a linguistic repertoire becomes differentiable within a language as a socially recognisable register of forms” (2003: 231). After outlining this framework and its implications for historical sociolinguistics, we provide a diachronic account of evidence for the enregisterment of northern varieties from the fourteenth century onwards. The chapter concludes with a case study of the enregisterment of Yorkshire dialects in the nineteenth century, based on a corpus of dialect literature, literary dialect and metalinguistic comment.


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