Emerging from below the social radar: Incipient evaluation in the North West of England


This paper investigates the social meaning of post‐nasal [ɡ]‐presence, a dialectal variant characteristic of North Western varieties of British English that is claimed to have local prestige. Using a matched‐guise approach, this study reveals the absence of a community‐wide norm with respect to how [ŋɡ] clusters are evaluated as well as diachronic change in the level of awareness speakers have of this variable. Older subjects are not sensitive to the dialectal status of [ŋɡ] and as a result do not evaluate it differently from [ŋ]; the local form is more accessible to evaluation among younger subjects, for whom the northern indexicality is stronger, but at this incipient stage of social meaning there is no agreement on what the content of this evaluation should be. The results speak to questions regarding the development of shared norms, their role in the speech community, and the granularity of social meaning more generally.

In Journal of Sociolinguistics