Colloquialisation of academic British English: Evidence from the Written BNC2014

Abi Hawtin

CASS, Lancaster University

Is academic British English becoming more colloquial? Evidence from the Written BNC2014

Leech (2002:72) defines colloquialisation as "a tendency for features of the conversational spoken language to infiltrate and spread in the written language". In this presentation I will discuss the results of a study which investigates whether academic British English has become more colloquial since the 1990s. I use some early data from the Written BNC2014, and compare this to data from the BNC1994, to investigate whether linguistic features associated with colloquialisation have changed in frequency between the two corpora. I find that in some respects academic British English has certainly become more colloquial since the 1990s, although this pattern is not straightforward. It seems that academic books have changed much more in the direction of colloquialisation theory than academic journal articles, and that genres of writing with a 'social' aspect are showing more changes in line with colloquialisation theory than the 'hard' science genres. I also consider whether these results can tell us anything about the colloquialisation of language in general.

Leech, G. (2002). Recent grammatical change in English: Data, description, theory. In K. Aijmer & B. Altenberg (Eds.), Advances in Corpus Linguistics. Papers from the 23rd International Conference on English Language Research on Computerized Corpora (ICAME 23), Göteborg 22-26 May 2002 (pp. 61-81), Amsterdam: Rodopi.

Week 10 2018/2019

Thursday 13th December 2018