"Young Folk Know Nowt" A Study of Lexical Erosion in Cumbria
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Research has shown that English in Britain is undergoing widespread dialect levelling, but evidence has also found resistance to this language change. This study aimed to investigate lexical erosion in rural Cumbria in apparent time, and what this can tell us about levelling in this dialect. The use and knowledge of regional lexis of a younger group of speakers was compared to an older group and analysed according to their recognition and provision of dialect words. The data was elicited using a lexical recognition task and a lexical questionnaire, both based on the local lexis provided in the Survey of English Dialects. As expected, evidence for levelling was found in the fact that younger speakers used and knew fewer dialect words than the older group, but they also showed that some words were resilient to this change. There were some examples of innovation from the younger speakers, suggesting that they are moving towards a more supra-local variety.