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Academic Paper


Title: ‘All the Lads and Lasses’: lexical variation in Tyne and Wear
Author: Joan C. Beal
Institution: University of Sheffield
Author: Lourdes Burbano-Elizondo
Linguistic Field: Semantics
Abstract: Taking as our starting-point the results of an investigation conducted on data collected in the 1950s for the Survey of English Dialects (SED) (Glauser, 1985), in this paper we look at data collected between forty and fifty years after the SED to examine variation in the semantic fields BOYS/GIRLS; SONS/DAUGHTERS. Glauser's SED data consisted of single-word responses mainly from older male informants to questions such as: ‘Children may be of either sex: they're either…. or …. .’ (Orton, 1962: 89), but we have examined data from two more recent sources – the Diachronic Electronic Corpus of Tyneside English (DECTE) and Burbano-Elizondo's (2008) study of linguistic variation in Sunderland – in order to ascertain which words occur in these semantic fields. Whilst Glauser's observation that lad is elicited more frequently than lass is borne out, we find that, in the sense of ‘sexual partner’, where these words do not appear in the SED data, lass is used more frequently than lad in the more recent data from Tyneside and Sunderland. We also find that, whilst there is no clear correlation between use of the words lad and lass and the social class of speakers, males use both these words more than females.

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This article appears IN English Today Vol. 28, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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