Glaswasian? A sociophonetic analysis of Glasgow-Asian accent and identity

Alam, Farhana (2015) Glaswasian? A sociophonetic analysis of Glasgow-Asian accent and identity. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

Full text available as:
[thumbnail of 2015alamphd.pdf] PDF
Download (2MB)
Printed Thesis Information:


British-Asians have often been stereotyped in the media through their cultural and linguistic practices, and these have been exacerbated by ongoing anti-Islamic international media coverage. Such associations may necessarily impact on the identity of young Pakistani-Muslims living in the West, and by implication, their sociolinguistic choices. However, no systematic study to my knowledge has attempted to uncover the role fine-grained phonetic variation might play in indexing such associations. In addition, Scottish-Pakistanis who are the largest ethnic minority group in Scotland, have been neglected in prior research on ethnic accents of English. With the increasing acknowledgement that ethnic varieties may influence mainstream Englishes as well as contribute to regional and personal identity, Scotland is a prime site for such analysis with its strong sense of national as well as local identity. Moreover, young female identity in the Muslim context is heightened, and can advance the understanding of the role of age, gender and religion in language variation.

This study is a sociophonetic analysis of the Glasgow-Asian accent, specifically examining the speech of British-born adolescent Pakistani girls, aged 16-18. It uses both linguistic ethnographic and variationist methods with auditory and acoustic phonetics to ascertain how social identity and ethnicity are reflected in specific accent features of their spoken English. From long-term fieldwork in a Glasgow high school, results show that distinct Communities of Practice (CofPs) emerge in the girls according to their social practices. The consonantal variable /t/, and six unchecked monophthongal vowels /i, e, a, O, o, 0/ were examined revealing fine-grained differences in realisation according to CofP membership. CofP effects were found: for /t/ for Tongue Shape gesture and Centre of Gravity (CoG), and for vowels in interaction effects with adjacent phonetic environment for FLEECE height (F1) and BOOT front-backness (F2). Findings reveal within-ethnic and cross-ethnic differences across the variables. The girls use a system of accent variation in subtle ways to simultaneously denote ethnicity, and personal, regional and social identity. This reflects hybridity at a fine phonetic level, similar to that of ‘Brasian’ (Harris 2006), but here embodied in the concept of ‘Glaswasian’.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: phonetics, sociolinguistics, ethnography; language, accent, identity, ethnicity, British-Asian, Scottish Pakistani.
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
P Language and Literature > PE English
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Funder's Name: ESRC
Supervisor's Name: Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane and Smith, Professor Jennifer
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Farhana Alam
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-7269
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 03 May 2016 08:54
Last Modified: 13 May 2016 08:59

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item


Downloads per month over past year