Date of Award

Spring 2021

Document Type

Open Access Thesis



First Advisor

Amanda Dalola


Previous research on British English (BE) has shown that variation in dialects stems from both regional and social differences (Hughes & Trudgill, 1979; Kwon, 2006; Glain, 2012; and others). For instance, if a speaker identifies as middle- to upper-class in the UK, they are more likely to use RP (Received Pronunciation) than a speaker who identifies with a lower-class social status. This, and other variables, accounts for variability among regionally similar but phonologically different British dialects.

This thesis analyzes the use of Yod Coalescence (YC), a phonological phenomenon that focuses on C-/ju/ sequences and their tendencies to drop yod and affricate, in BE dialects. For example, tune, which is currently pronounced as /tjun/ or /tun/, would affricate and palatalize with yod to form /tʃun/. Previously, YC has been said to be predicted by speaker group association to RP or Estuary English (EE) (Glain, 2012), but its potential for spread – but not complete adoption – into BE dialects means that other variables must be able to predict its use.

It has been previously established that RP of BE elicits similar upper-class perceptions among listeners (Agha, 2003), while EE is typically used by working-class speakers. However, YC is documented in speakers that are not contained solely to working-class groups, from well-known television. show host, John Oliver, to a Twitter thread of generalized “British people” with orthographic markers of this palatalization, found in “Chewsday” instead of “Tuesday."

This research analyzes the varying levels of significance of age, speaker group, socioeconomic status, educational attainment, and lexical frequency on YC use. While both speaker group and age play a significant role, there is not as great a significance as predicted, showing the potential for spread of this feature.

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