WP114 Language & class revisited: The issue of vernacular maintenance

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The rise and fall of ?class? as an academic concept has been documented extensively.? But as interest in class has waned, inequality has continued to be a major issue in the UK (Skeggs 2004: 43; Savage 2000).? In some contexts, inequality and discrimination are linguistically focused, and the pressure for speakers to lose regional accents and dialects and conform instead to prestige standards is relentless. But despite this, local and non-standard ways of speaking remain.? In this paper, I consider why these attempts appear to have had so little impact on the widespread use of spoken dialect. I begin by reviewing sociolinguistic approaches to class, which have generally emphasised the importance of local solidarity (over status) in the maintenance of the vernacular. I then introduce the study on which the rest of this paper is based (an ethnography of two primary schools in Teesside), before presenting some analyses from this study. I end with a discussion that attempts to relate these analyses back to the question of vernacular maintenance, and in doing so I challenge the dominance of the solidarity versus status dichotomy within sociolinguistics.