Research shows watching television could change accents

Posted by uatemp13 at Sep 10, 2013 09:44 AM |
Study shows how watching EastEnders is affecting certain aspects of the Scottish accent
Research shows watching television could change accents

Professor Barrie Gunter

Research has provided evidence that watching television helps to accelerate language change. The study looked at how watching EastEnders is altering certain features of the Scottish accent.

Professor Barrie Gunter, from our Department of Media and Communication, worked with linguists at the University of Glasgow.

They found two particular features of pronunciation typically associated with London English that were becoming increasingly apparent in the Glaswegian dialect among people who regularly watched the TV soap opera. These particular features included using “f” for “th” in words such as “think” and “tooth” and using a vowel like that in "good" in place of "l" in words such as "milk" and "people".

Results show a significant correlation between using these features and strong emotional and psychological engagement by viewers of the programme. However, the study concluded that simply being exposed to television isn’t enough to cause accent change. For someone’s speech to alter, they need to regularly watch the show and become emotionally engaged with the characters.

The research was funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and was published in the American journal ‘Language’.