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#Love or #Hate the Welsh accent?

4 Tachwedd 2014

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#Love it or #Hate it? Attitudes to the Welsh accent appear to be changing according to Cardiff University research, with more people thinking it's attractive than ever before.

Sociolinguist Dr Mercedes Durham collected nearly 90,000 tweets from September 2012 to May 2013 containing the words "Welsh" and "accent" and analysed a proportion of these in detail to establish what people were saying about the Welsh accent.

Dr Durham, Senior Lecturer at the School of English, Communication and Philosophy, said: "The aim of the research was to discover what current attitudes towards Welsh English accents expressed in informal communications on social media are. Much of what we've found can be grouped into common themes – tweets showing love for the accent, tweets showing hate, tweets from people putting on the accent in some way and tweets talking about UK accents in general."

The conclusions of the study are good news for those with Welsh accents.

"What's really interesting is that there are far more tweets from people who love the accent than any other type. People on Twitter are much more likely to think that the Welsh accent is sexy rather than ugly. This contrasts with earlier research which found that Welsh accents were often judged negatively.

"These findings are important because people's linguistic attitudes can affect the way they treat others with certain accents. Attitudes also affect whether people with some accents might try to hide them in some situations. If Welsh accents are viewed positively, they are less likely to become more similar to English accents", Dr Durham added.

Some representative tweets:

  • "If the Welsh accent was a person we would be dating."
  • "Dad said if I ever pick up a Welsh accent I'll be banished from the family."
  • *welsh accent* "your voice is well lush"
  • "I don't get how people can say they like the British accent: English, Northern Irish, Welsh and Scottish accents are all so different."

The Swiss-American academic, who has previously undertaken research on dialects and attitudes in Scotland, hopes to continue her research with a larger study examining the dialects of Cardiff and the Valleys and how they relate to one another.

Dr Durham's research will be presented on 12 November at 12.10pm as part of the School's Centre for Language and Communication seminar series in the John Percival Building (room 3.58). The seminar -Understanding language change through attitudes: How #sexy is the Welsh accent? - is free and open to everyone.

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