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Published on Sep 29, 2011
Paul Kerswill is committed to understanding how language is moulded by the societies in which it is spoken. His latest research is a long-term study of 'Multicultural London English' in the East End -- misleadingly dubbed 'Jafaican' by the media. He has the dubious honour of being the first dialectologist to be lampooned on the Now Show.
Paul's London studies in the heart of the East End, caused a minor moral panic when newspapers picked up on the idea the Cockney accent was being ousted by the new voice of the multilingual, multiethnic inner city. Some welcomed this, but many more linked the developments to migration in a negative way, fuelling outrage among online readers at the 'irredeemable' loss of 'our' heritage. Paul prefers to highlight the continuity of speech in the East End, a district which, for several centuries now, has been the first port of call for immigrants. He doesn't deny the exceptional speed of language change in London's inner city today, but he sees the positive side of this: young people of all backgrounds share a repertoire which they can draw on in different ways.
Paul is Professor of Sociolinguistics at Lancaster University. He has previously worked at Cambridge and Reading. He has taught and given lectures by invitation in eighteen countries on five continents, and has been an advisor on urban dialectology projects in Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Thailand, Japan and the UK.
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