Jenny Cheshire

research interests

 

 

 

SOCIOLINGUISTICS

especially language variation and change; language contact; conversational narrative

 

SPOKEN LANGUAGE

especially syntactic and discourse structures

 

CURRENT RESEARCH PROJECTS

From Sociolinguistic Research to English Language Teaching (ESRC, January 1, 2100-December 31, 2011)

Jenny Cheshire, QMUL

Sue Fox, QMUL

Paul Kerswill, Lancaster University

This grant allows us to develop knowledge transfer and impact-generating activities from our previous research on the changing English language. Working with teachers of GCSE and GCE A level English languages, we will compile an online Databank of Spoken English consisting of sound clips with written transcripts and related suggested classroom activities on spoken English, with accompanying teacher notes.

We have produced an online Research Digest that exchanges information on recent academic research relevant to English Language teaching with teachers and other individuals (including members of the general public) who are interested in language use: see http://linguistics-research-digest.blogspot.com.

 

Multicultural London English/Multicultural Paris French (ESRC/ANR RES 062 33 0006, 2010-2014)

see http://www.mle-mpf.bbk.ac.uk/Home.html

Jenny Cheshire, QMUL

Penelope Gardner-Chloros, Birkbeck, University of London

Françoise Gadet, Université de Paris-X

This bilateral Franco-British project compares developments in contemporary London English with those occurring in contemporary Paris French. It pays particular attention to the influence on the majority languages, English and French, of varieties spoken by speakers of recent immigrant origin, including AfroCaribbeans in London and French Caribbeans and Maghrebans in Paris. A corpus of spontaneous spoken French will be compiled in Paris using a similar methodology to that used for the Linguistic Innovators and the Mulicultural London English projects, with due regard to the different ethnic compositions of the two cities. The research will compare innovations in phonology, morphosyntax and discourse-pragmatics in each city, determining the extent to which innovations relate to ethnically- based variation as well as to more traditional processes such as dialect levelling in the UK and the influence of 'le français populaire' in France. By comparing language variation and change in the two locations we will attempt to identify general processes of language contact and language variation and change in large multicultural metropolises. We will also consider social issues to do with migration, integration and education.

 

Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety (ESRC RES 062 23 0814, 2007-2010)

see http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/projects/linguistics/multicultural/index.htm

Jenny Cheshire, QMUL

Paul Kerswill, Lancaster University

Sue Fox, QMUL

Arfaan Khan, QMUL

Eivind Torgersen, Lancaster University

This project builds on the results of the Linguistic Innovators project, examining the role of ethnic minority English in driving forward linguistic innovation in London in phonetic, grammar and discourse features. The key to this is to understand the nature of what we call 'Multicultural London English', the (potentially) ethnically neutral way of speaking that nevertheless contains many features attributable to different ethnic groups. We attempt to demarcate this variety and also to discover how and when children acquire it, as well as whether people continue to use it into adulthood. The project explores 'ethnicity' as an aspect of identity and investigates experimentally how adolescents evaluate some specific phonetic features. The project builds on Fox's and Khan's PhD research and integrates ethnicity explicitly into the study of language change in progress, with implications for our understanding of mechanisms of linguistic innovation and change in a highly multiethnic and multilingual met

 

Linguistic Innovators: The English of adolescents in London (ESRC RES 000 23 0680; 2004-2007)

see http://www.lancs.ac.uk/fss/projects/linguistics/innovators/output.htm

Jenny Cheshire, QMUL

Paul Kerswill, Lancaster University

Sue Fox, QMUL

Eivind Torgersen, Lancaster University

This project was the first large-scale sociolinguistic study of English in London. It tests the view that long-standing migration patterns make London the origin of language changes in the UK (and beyond). We analysed over 100 hours of conversation from adolescent and elderly speakers in a multilingual inner London area and a less diverse outer London area. In Outer London, dialect levelling was well underway, mainly following patterns affecting the south-east of England generally. For most language features, the assumption that London is the origin of these changes was not supported. Instead, there were innovations in inner London adolescent speech in phonetics, morphosyntax and discourse, as well as vocabulary. We identified the social and personality types of the adolescent leaders of change, finding that one important factor was the ethnic mix of their friendship groups. This has implications for current sociolinguistic theories about speech communities and about how language changes originate and spread.