You may have heard people casually claim that you can’t believe anything you read in The Sun, but when it’s written by Paul Kerswill, professor of sociolinguistics at Lancaster University, it might be worth sitting up and taking notice. In this article, Kerswill outlines the findings of his research that the Cockney accent is migrating out of London into surrounding counties, while being supplanted by a black-English influenced accent referred to as ‘Jafaican’
Of course, like so many language stories, it has been picked up by a range of media outlets, reported with varying degrees of accuracy. A survey of such articles can make fascinating reading in the light of discussions about attitudes to language change, the descriptivist/prescriptivist debate, and issues of language and power. For example, the Mail seems to see the story in terms of an ‘invasion’ of the Home Counties by cockney, itself under threat from those foreign immigrants in London.
The BBC is often worth going to for such stories because of their excellent ‘see also’ section that links to previous stories on related topics. You can go a long way in building up your knowledge of language topics by following such chains of links, so here is their take on the story.
Is this a story relevant only to the south east of England, or do you see any similar processes taking place elsewhere, perhaps among your peer group?