Revistes Catalanes amb Accés Obert (RACO)

Enregisterment in historical contexts: nineteenth century Yorkshire dialect

Paul Cooper


In this paper I argue that textual data from historical periods can be evidence of indexicality (Silverstein 2003) and enregisterment (Agha 2003), and that repertoires of enregistered features can be identified in historical contexts. Using a corpus of nineteenth K century Yorkshire dialect material, I discuss a repertoire of features that was enregistered as “Yorkshire” to nineteenth century audiences. I do this by comparing data from a corpus of modern Yorkshire dialect material and an online survey of current speakers’ perceptions of Yorkshire dialect. I suggest that similar patterns as those seen in the modern Yorkshire dialect data can be observed in analogous data from the nineteenth century. I argue that we can therefore make ‘use of the present to explain the past’ following Labov (1977:226) and infer that features of Yorkshire dialect which occur frequently in the historical corpus and metapragmatic discourse were enregistered in the nineteenth century.

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