Innovations in the stylistic variation of nuclear tunes in Belfast English

Anna Jespersen


This paper is a replication of Lowry’s (2002) study of Belfast English nuclear intonation. The original paper revealed a tendency for speakers to produce a greater-than-expected amount of falling tunes in more careful speech styles, while informal speech styles almost exclusively yielded the canonical Belfast English rise-plateaux. According to Lowry, this finding reflected an attempt by speakers to emulate the prestige variety of SSBE, in which declarative falls are the norm. However, since Lowry's study, a new nuclear tune has entered the scene: increasingly, studies report the use of uptalk rises in the British Isles. This study analyses data from sociolinguistic interviews with 6 adolescent male speakers of Belfast English to investigate whether this speaker group still produces SSBE- like falls in formal contexts. Findings indicate that rise- plateaux are still produced in informal contexts, that use of falls may be idiolectal or used with greater frequency by speakers that are politically oriented towards the UK, and that speakers in the present sample now realise the majority of declarative statements with uptalk rises in formal styles.


 DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-107

Cite as: Jespersen, A. (2018) Innovations in the stylistic variation of nuclear tunes in Belfast English. Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018, 527-531, DOI: 10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-107.


@inproceedings{Jespersen2018,
  author={Anna Jespersen},
  title={Innovations in the stylistic variation of nuclear tunes in Belfast English},
  year=2018,
  booktitle={Proc. 9th International Conference on Speech Prosody 2018},
  pages={527--531},
  doi={10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-107},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/SpeechProsody.2018-107}
}