'Er's from off: the indexicalization and enregisterment of Black Country dialect

Urszula Clark*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This article considers how conscious use of dialect in writing is an intentional act and can be accounted for through the notion of enregisterment. It does this by exploring the value of dialect in social and ideological contexts in relation to a regional dialect of British speech, that of the Black Country in the West Midlands region of England. The article provides a summary of recent directions in sociolinguistic research and an overview of the Black Country speech community, including a summary of its distinctive linguistic variables. This description is then used as an external evaluation of the authenticity of written representations of Black Country speech and the items enregistered in writing. Analysis of three written texts taken from three different genres across a time span of 30 years reveals the extent to which identified linguistic features are drawn upon in each one of the three texts and the extent to which any one is enregisterd across all three. The article discusses the social and linguistic contexts within which the writing occurs by way of accounting for their enregisterment as markers of identity linked to region and place. It also considers the ways in which the texts juxtapose norms and values of those "within" the community with those from "outside" the community in ways that subvert traditional notions of linguistic hierarchy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-466
Number of pages26
JournalAmerican Speech
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2013

Bibliographical note

© 2013 by American Dialect Society. Published by Duke University Press.
Clark, U. (2013). 'Er's from off: the indexicalization and enregisterment of Black Country dialect. American speech, 88(4), 441-466. http://dx.doi.org/10.1215/00031283-2691433


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