Accent on Berwickers in new study

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A MAJOR new multimedia exhibition will explore the relationship between regional accents and identity, focusing on Berwick.

The exhibition at York University showcases the research of York’s Department of Language and Linguistic Science.

Under the Accent and Identity on the Scottish-English Border project (AISEB), funded by the UK Economic and Social Research Council, they investigated the relationship between regional accents and identities in four Border communities including Eyemouth and Berwick.

Dr Dominic Watt, principal investigator on the project, said: “It has been claimed that the greatest concentration of distinctive linguistic features in the entire English-speaking world is to be found along the Scottish/English border. In spite of this, vernaculars of this region had remained under-researched.

“The AISEB project represented the first empirical sociolinguistic study to investigate linguistic variation along a national border viewed as a whole.”

Dr Carmen Llamas said: “Regional identities can act as a brake on language change. People use speech to signal who they are and who they’re not, and this can have an effect on how language change progresses.”