"By order of the Peaky Bloinders!": Examining the Representation of the Brummie Accent in Television

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"By order of the Peaky Bloinders!": Examining the Representation of the Brummie Accent in Television

Type: Bachelor thesis
Title: "By order of the Peaky Bloinders!": Examining the Representation of the Brummie Accent in Television
Author: Haverman, Daya
Issue Date: 2019-01-31
Abstract: In film and television, actors are sometimes expected to speak in a particular accent in order to convey their character’s identity as accurately as possible. A term in sociolinguistic research fields that describes this connection between identity and language is indexicality: it “refers to the way an observable linguistic fact can be indexical of social identities in the same way, for instance, that clothing can. Language features can thus be semiotic signs associated with such identities.” (Smakman 2018: 57). Filmmakers make use of this fact when they include a specific dialect in their films: “film uses language variation and accent to draw character quickly, building on established preconceived notions associated with specific loyalties, ethnic, racial or economic alliances” (Lippi-Green 1997: 81). However, as the actors in film may be required to speak in an accent that is different than their own, inaccuracies can occur in their pronunciation, which may lead to linguistic stereotyping, appropriation or even racism. In this thesis, I examined this phenomenon in relation to the Birmingham (or, ‘Brummie’) accent, which is spoken in the series Peaky Blinders. I first established the most prototypical accent features of the Birmingham accent by comparing several sources, after which I analysed the use of these features in the speech of native speakers and actors. I then juxtaposed the differences in frequency and consistency between the pronunciation of the native speakers and actors, and several patterns emerged. These patterns could all be related to four sociophonetic processes detected by Bell and Gibson in a similar study: selectivity, mis-realisation, overshoot and undershoot (2011: 568). It was then found that these sociophonetic processes can account for the inaccuracies that may occur in actors’ accent use, which ultimately pointed out that there is, in fact, a correlation between dialect use in film and linguistic stereotyping.
Supervisor: Smakman, Dick
Faculty: Faculty of Humanities
Department: Engelse Taal en Cultuur (Bachelor)
Specialisation: Linguistics
ECTS Credits: 10
Handle: http://hdl.handle.net/1887/68659
 

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