The language of English pop and rock music: A study in the sociolinguistics of performance and language attitudes
Adele, Amy Winehouse, Mick Jagger – they are just f ew of many British artists who switch to an ‘American accent’ that diverges from their ordin ary speech style when singing. This performance-based language phenomenon has not only been observed by British listeners but has also raised the interest of linguists. Trudgill (1982) and Simpson (1999) have identified a hybrid accent used by many British artists: a mixture of particular natural British and stereotypical American and Southern or African American features. Many artists in the 1950s and 60s wished to identify with the cradle of blues and rock music that lies in the American South. The admiration of those musicians has led to the imitation of their accent. Beal (2009: 223) introduced the idea of a “mid-Atlantic mainstream accent” that indexes generic mainstream music. Since the cultural dominance allocated to America h as dispersed and the two varieties (British and American English) steadily merge and/or mut ually influence each other, several questions arise:
• What is actually perceived to be ‘American’ in music performances by Britons today?
• Does this perception differ from what is considered ‘American’ in non-performance contexts?
• What do linguistic features of the type investigated index in the context of British pop and rock music?
Previous studies lack a perspective on music reception and perception, therefore my project takes a perspective on these aspects by eliciting language attitudes. A multi-faceted approach including verbal/matched guise tests with music samples, questionnaires, interviews as well as a quantitative analysis is applied to give an extensive overview on language use in British rock and pop music and to get insight into folk perceptions towards language performances.
Beal, J. C. 2009. ‘You’re Not from New York City, You’re from Rotherham’: Dialect and Identity in British Indie Music. Journal of English Linguistics 37, 3: 223-240.
Simpson, P. 1999. Language, Culture and Identity: With (Another) Look at Accents in Pop and Rock Singing. Multilingua 18,4: 343-367.
Trudgill, P. 1982. On Dialect: Social and Geographical Perspectives . Oxford: Blackwell.
- . . ‘The Arctic Monkeys then and now: An analysis of performance style.’ In Stylistic Approaches to Pop Culture, edited by , .. New York: Routledge. [Submitted]
- . . Rihanna Works Her Multivocal Pop Persona: Morpho-syntactic and Accent Variation in Rihanna’s Singing Style.
- . . ‘“Britpop is a thing, damn it”: On British attitudes towards American English and an Americanized singing style.’ In The Language of Pop Culture, edited by , 116-135. New York: Routledge.
- . . ‘Rihanna works her multivocal pop persona: A morpho-syntactic and accent analysis of Rihanna's singing style.’ English Today 33, No. 2: 46-55. doi: 10.1017/S0266078416000651.
- . . „Deutsch-Englischer Sprachvergleich.“ In Multikulturelles Deutschland im Sprachvergleich. Das Deutsche im Fokus der am meisten kommunizierten Migrantensprachen: Handbuch für DaF- Lehrende und Studierende, für Pädagogen und Erzieher, herausgegeben von , 47-75. Münster: Lit.
- Jansen, Lisa; Westphal, Michael (): ‘Performing Caribbean Identity in Pop Music: Rihanna & Nicki Minaj’. 2nd Bremen Student Conference in English Linguistics, University of Bremen, Germany, .
- Jansen, Lisa; Westphal, Michael (): ‘Caribbean queen? Rihanna and Nicki Minaj’s multivocal pop personas’. Münsters Wissen frisch gezapft!, University of Münster, Germany, .
- Jansen, Lisa; Westphal, Michael (): ‘Caribbean queen? Rihanna and Nicki Minaj’s multivocal pop personas’. Lecture Series Hotspots in Literary/Cultural Studies and Linguistics, University of Münster, Münster, Germany., .
- Jansen, Lisa; Westphal, Michael (): ‘Caribbean queen? Rihanna and Nicki Minaj’s multivocal pop personae’. 7th Biennial International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English, University of Vigo, Spain, .
- Jansen L (): ‘’. 7th Biennal International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English (BICLCE), Universidade de Vigo, Vigo, Spain, .
- Jansen L (): ‘’. 1st International Conference on Sociolinguistics. Insights from Superdiversity, Complexity and Multimodality, Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest, Hungary, .
- Jansen L (): ‘’. Sociolinguistics Symposium 21, Universidad de Murcia, Murcia, Spain, .
- Jansen L (): ‘’. The Sociolinguistics of Globalisation, University of Hong Kong, Hongkong, China, .
- Jansen L (): ‘’. Lecture Series: Hotspots in Literary/Cultural Studies and Linguistics, WWU Münster, Münster, Deutschland, .