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Multicultural London English: blueprint for the future? Paul Kerswill University of York School of English, Sheffield 4 March 2015.

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Presentation on theme: "Multicultural London English: blueprint for the future? Paul Kerswill University of York School of English, Sheffield 4 March 2015."— Presentation transcript:

1 Multicultural London English: blueprint for the future? Paul Kerswill University of York School of English, Sheffield 4 March 2015

2 London’s multiethnolect: Multicultural London English The term multiethnolect was first used by Clyne (2000) In northwest Europe, ‘multiethnolect’ is widely applied to the speech of young people living in multicultural and multilingual districts of large cities It’s a variety of the host language, formed in a community with a high proportion of 2 nd language speakers 2

3 Who speaks it and when? Multiethnolects occupy a continuum: Vernacular speakers of Multicultural London English (MLE) are usually working class Elements of MLE, especially slang, available to other speakers, including middle class, as style 3 Vernacular variety Youth style

4 Labels Pejorative terms (invented, or at least propagated by the media): – Kanak Sprak – Kebabnorsk – Smurfentaal – Jafaican (origin obscure!) Academics’ terms, often based on local usage: – Kiezdeutsch (Wiese 2012) – rinkebysvenska (Kotsinas 1989) – straattaal (Cornips et al.) – Multicultural London English (Kerswill/Cheshire) 4

5 Indefinite pronoun man: I don’t really mind how my girl looks…..it’s her personality man’s looking at This is + Speaker quotative: This is me I’m from east London Pronunciation: Strikingly different diphthongs in e.g. coat, face, price, mouth Use of ‘h’ in e.g. go home, my house … What is MLE like? 5

6 Zack: well they say I physically attacked my headteacher but I didn’t like I had a fight with him it was a fight it weren’t just me beating him up it was a fight cos like cos like but that’s why I didn’t get arrested or nothing Sue:what happened then? Zack:no it was like it was the end of school yeah so that school’s finished yeah and everyone was going home and I was getting my bike from the bike rack and I was going out and I was riding my bike and he stopped my bike I was like “yeah” and he goes “get off the bike” I was like “why am I getting off the bike I’m going home now like I’ve gotta go home” yeah he was like “no get off the bike walk the bike outside of school” I was like “what’s the point?” yeah cos like it’s quite far like to get out the school from the entrance like in the school yeah and he goes “ah no get off the bike” yeah so like he kind of shoved me off the bike so I dropped it but I didn’t fall over like but I kind of stumbled yeah and he put his he tried to take my bike up to his office like he was gonna keep my bike there I was like “nah” like and this time everyone was gathering round cos we were shouting at each other yeah he was like “no I’m taking your bike upstairs” I was like “what’s the point in that when I’m just gonna take it back downstairs” so I must have pulled the bike off him yeah and I put it I put it I leant it up against the wall yeah and I walked over to him and this is me “what what’s your what’s your problem?” and he goes “I don't like you” I was like “I don't like you” yeah so I just swung for him and then we like but we had a fight though [Sue: did you] and I got kicked out of school like I weren’t allowed into any school that’s why I came here last year 6 Zack, 17 Hackney 2005

7 Web resource with MLE extracts English Language Teaching Resources Archive language-teaching language-teaching 7

8 When did it start? 1950s on: Anglos (white British) and African- Caribbeans (mainly from Jamaica) formed the most numerous groups Their linguistic repertoires differed: – Both Anglos and African-Caribbeans: Cockney – African-Caribbeans: ‘London Jamaican’ or ‘Patois’ 8

9 The view from academe, c Mark Sebba and Roger Hewitt recognised the existence of this repertoire But noted an intermediate ‘Black Cockney’ or ‘multiethnic/multiracial vernacular’ – Apparently for use in adolescent peer groups only – So not actually a native dialect, but more a style 9

10 A criminologist speaks John Pitts notes the start of a new youth language among young black people in the East End in the early 1980s, when their deteriorating social position was preventing them from living up to their parents’ expectations Pitts argues that the new dialect reflects a ‘resistance identity’. (29 minutes in) 10

11 The London projects 2004–10 11

12 Linguistic Innovators: the English of Adolescents in London (2004–7) Investigators: Paul Kerswill (Lancaster University) Jenny Cheshire (Queen Mary, University of London) Research Associates: Sue Fox (Queen Mary, University of London) Eivind Torgersen (Lancaster University) 12 Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council E· S· R· C ECONOMIC & S O C I A L RESEARCH C O U N C I L

13 Project design: ‘Innovators’ project 16 elderly Londoners year old Londoners from inner London (Hackney) and outer London (Havering) female, male “Anglo” and “non-Anglo” Free interviews in pairs 1.4m words transcribed orthographically, stored in a database time-aligned at turn level 13

14 Investigators: Paul Kerswill (Lancaster University) Jenny Cheshire (Queen Mary, University of London) Research Associates: Sue Fox, Arfaan Khan, (Queen Mary, University of London) Eivind Torgersen (Lancaster University) 14 E· S· R· C ECONOMIC & S O C I A L RESEARCH C O U N C I L Funded by the Economic and Social Research Council Multicultural London English: the emergence, acquisition and diffusion of a new variety (2007–10)

15 Project design: MLE project Six age groups: 4-5, 8, 12, 17, c.25, c.40 North London female, male “Anglo” and “non-Anglo” Free interviews in pairs c. 1.5m words transcribed Phonological and grammatical analysis Perception tests 15

16 16 The research sites 16

17 Sociohistorical context of Multicultural London English High in-migration of population originating from countries other than the UK from 1950s onwards Poverty – Hackney has the highest rating on indicators of deprivation out of all 355 boroughs in England  Poverty leaves all groups in these boroughs with few opportunities for interaction with the wider, mainstream, mobile community At the same time, there is the formation of dense, family and neighbourhood networks Because of extreme ethnic heterogeneity and lack of residential segregation, there are contacts across ethnic groups among young people 17

18 Immigration to London Resident population by country of birth, London & UK, 2006 Inner London Outer London Greater LondonRest of UKUK London as % of UK All persons2,856,0004,496,0007,352,00051,489,00058,841,00012 Born in UK1,756,0003,276,0005,031,00047,961,00052,992,000 9 Born outside UK1,100,0001,220,0002,320,0003,528,0005,849, % born outside UK Source: Annual Population Survey

19 19 Hackney

20 20

21 21 Creole-influenced varieties (Jamaica, etc.) Ex-colonial Englishes (Pakistan, Nigeria …) Learner varieties of varieties The local London vernacular (‘Cockney') Kinds of English encountered in the school (Standard English, teachers’ varieties) Media (television) Monolingual English speakers have also been exposed to all these varieties What kinds of English formed the input to MLE?

22 Diphthong vowels of elderly male speaker from Hackney born

23 Diphthong vowels of young male from Hackney, Afro- Caribbean origin, born

24 24 – Discourse markers, a new pronoun and quotatives as contact-based innovations in inner London

25 Discourse markers: I got the right moves innit but I ain't telling you though still. I ain't telling you Indefinite pronoun man: I don’t really mind how my girl looks…..it’s her personality man’s looking at Why…..for question frame: I said “why you searching my jacket for?” This is + Speaker quotative expression: This is me “I’m from east London” 25

26 i) this is them “what area are you from. what part?” this is me “I’m from East London” ii) this is him “don’t lie. if I search you and if I find one I’ll kick your arse” iii) this is my mum “what are you doing? I was in the queue before you” iv) this is my mum’s boyfriend “put that in your pocket now” New quotative in London: This is + speaker 26

27 Quotatives in MLE project 27 4–5 years8–9 years12–13 years16–19 yearsCaregivers say93.9 (46)39.5 (202)25.4 (163)17.0 (218)50.3 (174) think-0.6 (3)1.9 (12)7.2 (92)10.7 (37) go4.1 (2)31.1 (159)23.8 (153)7.3 (94)5.2 (18) zero2.0 (1)2.0 (10)14.5 (93)12.5 (160)18.2 (63) BE LIKE-17.0 (87)25.9 (166)45.7 (584)10.1 (35) this is + speaker-5.3 (27)2.0 (13)3.0 (38) tell-1.6 (8)0.3 (2)2.2 (28)1.2 (4) others-2.5 (13)1.6 (10)2.7 (34)3.2 (11) Total no. quotatives

28 Summary of MLE features Narrow diphthongs and monophthongs replace broad diphthongs in FACE and GOAT: [æɪ]  [eɪ]  [e:] and [ʌʊ]  [oʊ]  [o:] Backing of /k/ before low back vowels to [q] Full reinstatement of /h/ - no h-dropping! More syllable-timed (staccato) rhythm Use of a new quotative: this is + SPEAKER, as in ‘This is me: let’s go now’ Widespread use of slang, including blood (friend), cuss (defame), ends (place of residence), mandem (Creole plural), rude, safe, tief (steal), man (as address term), man (as indefinite pronoun). Many of these are of Jamaican origin. 28

29 Conclusions on the question ‘What is MLE’? MLE is a new, mixed variety It varies to a small extent across ethnicities, but most is shared It is distinct from traditional London English in specific ways But some features may be tied to youth style – they will be lost in adulthood – they aren’t consistently used – slang is a case in point, and needs investigation – But many will be kept – it is the speakers’ vernacular MLE has a social construction by young people as ‘our language’, ‘cool’, non-racial, in opposition to both Cockney and RP 29

30 Tracing Multicultural London English in British newspapers Kerswill, Paul The objectification of ‘Jafaican’: the discoursal embedding of Multicultural London English in the British media. In Androutsopoulos, Jannis (ed.) The Media and Sociolinguistic Change. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 428–

31 The multiethnolect in the papers Nexis UK database I searched for Jafaican (Jafaikan) and Multicultural London English in July 2012 – 62 articles contained at least one occurrence of Jafaican – 29 contained Multicultural London English, of which 20 also contained Jafaican. 31

32 Jafaican pushes out Cockney THE Cockney accent is being pushed out of its heartland by a new kind of speech. Playgrounds and housing estates of London are alive with the sound of an accent that sounds Jamaican with flavours from West Africa and India. The Standard can reveal that this new English variety is replacing Cockney in inner London, as more white children adopt the speech patterns and vocabulary of their black neighbours and classmates. Teachers have dubbed the phenomenon Jafaican and TV's Ali G would understand it perfectly. Evening Standard 10 th April

33 Jafaican as contemporary, classless, modern, stylish It's significant that the message-board of the new Englishness is MySpace, the social networking website that somehow flattens out the traditional nuances of class differentiation. It's there, too, in the magpie lexicon from which the lyrics are drawn, with many of them delivered in the fertile hybrid of Cockney, the Queen's English and pretend Jamaican - what's it called? Jafaican? - that is the lingua franca of young southern England. Daily Telegraph 23 rd December

34 Jafaican and people ‘in the know’ End-of-year quiz in the Evening Standard, 24 th December 2010: ‘How did Nang, Greezy and Butters triumph in 2010? a) They are the producers who work on the X Factor winner's recordings. b) They are the stars of a new CBeebies show. c) They are "street" or "Jafaican" expressions which have overtaken Cockney slang terms. d) They are ingredients popularised by Delia Smith in her last Waitrose promotion.’ 34

35 Time Out, 2 nd August 2012 Welcome to The London Citizenship Test You have already demonstrated adequate speaking and listening skills in London's three key dialects (Estuarine, Mockney and Jafaican) and, having attained level two Posh, are able to buy shoes confidently in Knightsbridge

36 Jafaican and the far right Cockneys Have Become First British Group to be Ethnically Cleansed first-british-group-be-ethnically-cleansed The Cockney culture and language has been ethnically cleansed from London’s East End as mass Third World immigration has pushed white people into minority status and destroyed the world-famous accent. 36

37 Starkey, Jamaican and the riots: just how wrong could he be? TEDx talk, September 2011: Who’s an East Ender now? Migration and the transformation of the Cockney dialect 37

38 David Starkey comments on the London riots, Newsnight, 13 August

39 David Starkey: ‘The whites have become black. A particular sort of violent, destructive, nihilistic, gangster culture has become the fashion, and black and white, boy and girl, operate in this language together, this language which is wholly false, which is this Jamaican patois that has been intruded in England, and that is why so many of us have this sense of, literally, a foreign country.’ 39

40 Linguist Geoff Pullum on Starkey (THE, 18 August 2011) ‘Did Starkey really mean what he said? Well, he gave an additional clear indication of believing that the dangerous blacks are marked out by their patois, while safe ones such as the MP for Tottenham speak white English. “Listen to David Lammy, an archetypical successful black man,” he said in his defence: “if you turned the screen off, so that you were listening to him on radio, you'd think he was white.”...’ 40

41 Starkey’s double mistake He is hearing ‘Jamaican’, when actually he’s hearing MLE – Wrong attribution of foreignness He ascribes a violent disposition directly to the language 41

42 19 August 2014 James Foley’s killer is heard speaking with a British accent – Now known to be Mohammed Emwazi Linguists (myself included!) widely interviewed, and confirmed the jihadist in the video as a speaker of Multicultural London English ‘Multicultural London English’ appears dozens of times on the Internet closely associated with the jihadist 42

43 Consequences Media exposure makes accents more recognisable Media discourses strongly guide the way an accent is perceived socially MLE has become negatively stereotyped, after a brief ‘honeymoon’ back in 2006 when the term was first used by the press The riots and (especially) the explicit mention of MLE in the context of the London Jihadist will accelerate the negative stereotyping 43

44 Blueprint for the future? More multicultural accents/dialects can be expected in the future – But they may remain restricted to inner cities Constant renewal of immigrant populations – East End has had large-scale immigration over centuries The linguistic and social mix will change MLE and its successors are now part of our dialect landscape 44

45 Kerswill, Paul, Torgersen, Eivind & Fox, Susan (2008). Reversing ‘drift’: Innovation and diffusion in the London diphthong system. Language Variation and Change 20: 451–491. Torgersen, Eivind and Anita Szakay (2012) An investigation of speech rhythm in London English. Lingua. Cheshire, Jenny, David Adger and Sue Fox (2013). Relative who and the actuation problem. Lingua 126 (2013) 51–77. 45

46 Kerswill, Paul (fc 2014). The objectification of ‘Jafaican’: the discoursal embedding of Multicultural London English in the British media. In J. Androutsopoulos (ed.) Media and sociolinguistic change. Mouton. Kerswill, Paul (fc 2013). Identity, ethnicity and place: the construction of youth language in London. In P. Auer et al. (eds.) Space in Language and Linguistics. Berlin: De Gruyter. Torgersen, Eivind (2012). A perceptual study of ethnicity and geographical location in London and Birmingham. In P. Stoeckle, S. Hansen, T. Streck and C. Schwartz (eds.) Raumkonzepte. Freiburg: FRIAS. Cheshire, Jenny, Kerswill, Paul, Fox, Susan & Torgersen, Eivind (2011). Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15/2: 151–196. Kerswill, Paul, Cheshire, Jenny, Fox, Susan and Torgersen, Eivind (2012). English as a contact language: the role of children and adolescents. In Hundt, Marianne & Schreier, Daniel (eds.) English as a contact language. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 46

47 References Cheshire, Jenny, Kerswill, Paul, Fox, Susan & Torgersen, Eivind Contact, the feature pool and the speech community: The emergence of Multicultural London English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15/2: 151–196. Kerswill, Paul Identity, ethnicity and place: the construction of youth language in London. In P. Auer, M. Hilpert, A. Stukenbrock & B. Szmrecsanyi (eds). Space in language and linguistics: geographical, interactional, and cognitive perspectives. Berlin: de Gruyter, pp Kerswill, Paul The objectification of ‘Jafaican’: the discoursal embedding of Multicultural London English in the British media. In Androutsopoulos, Jannis (ed.) The Media and Sociolinguistic Change. Berlin: De Gruyter, pp. 428–


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