Acts of Conflicting Identity - Linguistics

Acts of Conflicting Identity - Linguistics

Acts of Conflicting Identity The Sociolinguistics of British pop-song pronunciation by Peter Trudgill The Accent of pop singing At least since the 20s and the advent of Jazz, singers have adopted speech patterns while singing that are different from their regular speech patterns. In British pop music, starting in the late

50s, this accent most notable for its inclusion of non pre-vocalic /r/ in otherwise r-less English-English dialect Non pre-vocalic /r/ In the late 50s and 60s, /r/ incidence highest (47 percent) By the 70s, /r/ incidence (4 percent) Why did British singers add /r/ in the early parts of the

decade, only to lose it later? Three Possible Explanations Accommodation Theory (Giles and Smith 1979) Argues pop vocalists adopted, or attempted to adopt features of the prestige dialect into their singing patterns, in this case, American r-full English pronunciations This theory does not explain why the singers would want to sound like their audience; oftentimes, audiences adopt the speech

patterns of their favorite singers, not vice versa Three Possible Explanations appropriateness In the context of pop/rock song, it would be appropriate to sing like an American Three Possible Explanations

Le Page 3-part explanation First, British pop singers have attempted to model their singing on American English speech patterns. However, in doing so, they are actually trying to accommodate into a single singing dialect many different American dialects, such as AAVE, New York Dialect, and Upper Mid-West English Second, This leads to a confused idea about many aspects of American English, and leads to the odd /r/ inclusion, yielding Americer, idears, taughrt etc. Thus, Ability to modify our behavior degrades as we age. Thus /r/ inclusion is

always variable, and would be even if the British singers had accurately identified the patterns of American English Third, There are varying motivations towards adoption of a new dialect, and the accompanying identity In the 50s singing rock standards from America, it was natural to want to sound as an American. However, as Britpop emerged as a viable and influential, less rock oriented musical genre, there was a diminishing incentive to adopt that speech pattern Problems This theory does not explain why certain patterns of American English were retained in Britpop singing

Also, this theory cannot account for the hyperBritish, Estuary English common to many British punk bands, even though punk music is an American Genre (most music theorists point to The Stooges debut album (1968), as the birth of punk or proto-punk, and to the Ramones first performance (1976) as the official birth of punk rock)

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