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Salience and resilience in a set of Tyneside English shibboleths

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Abstract

This study shows that dialectal [DO] is a candidate for fostering dialect resurgence (and countering moribundity) because some of its forms are salient (though to varying degrees); thus they may be retained by speakers even as highly phonetically variant items and other (sometimes infrequent items) recede. These lexical shibboleths are actively and consciously manipulated by speakers to assert dialect identity, in the face of stigma and ostensible levelling of some variants. Interesting for the resilience of these [DO] paradigmatic forms is their degree of fossilisation, which is in a mutual feeding relationship with salience; this is predicted to result in greater sociolinguistic resilience for shibboleths. We describe how the range of [DO] shibboleths achieve (or do not achieve) salience and resilience, and thereby, in some cases, elude moribundity trends evident in paradigmatically related items; in the process, we demonstrate the social stratification effects evident in the phenomenon.

References

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