Journal of Sociolinguistics

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Volume 15 Issue 4 (September 2011), Pages 431-552

Style repertoire and social change in British Asian English (pages 464-492)

This study has two goals: empirically, it accounts for variation found in the use of ethnically‐marked variants among British‐born Asians; methodologically, it assesses the variationist approach against a repertoire approach. In Part I, analysis of one Punjabi‐derived phonetic trait, examined in interview data only, suggests that younger women shift to exclusive use of the British prestige variant. Part II expands the analysis to four variables and to broader speech repertoires for four individuals. The repertoire analysis shows the conclusions in Part I to be inaccurate, and instead reveals: (1) retention of Punjabi traits by young women in the home domain; (2) two types of repertoire – flexible and fused; (3) a gendered reversal in repertoire type over time; and (4) a network diversity basis for these differences. Unlike the initial variationist analysis, the use of repertoire analysis and a new Network Diversity Index leads to the discovery of a shift among lower‐middle‐class British Asians from traditional Punjabi to urban British social structures.

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