Linguistics Colloquium: Jonathan Morris

16/11/2021 - 14:00 - 15:30

Jonathan Morris, Cardiff University, Wales

Title: Intonational variation and social meaning in bilingual north Wales


Recent work on fundamental frequency range (FFR) in Welsh-English bilingual speech in north west Wales (where the majority of the population speak Welsh) has reported significant cross-linguistic differences between the two languages for female speakers but not for male speakers (Ordin & Mennen 2017). This complements the results of work on segmental variation in north Wales which also found that women were more likely to differentiate between realisations of /l/ in Welsh and English (Morris 2017). It is not known, however, the extent to which intonation varies both within and between the two languages in different areas of north Wales (particularly in areas where Welsh is not spoken by the majority) and whether the same social factors influence FFR across the region.

The current study therefore aims to examine both areal variation and the influence of other social factors on intonation in three areas of north Wales. Specifically, I address the following research questions:

  1. To what extent do Welsh-English bilinguals from north Wales have distinct patterns of FFR in their two languages?
  2. Are there differences between western and eastern areas of north Wales and to what extent can this be accounted for by the social use of the Welsh language among young speakers in these areas?
  3. To what extent do speaker sex and home language influence FFR both within and between Welsh and English?

The results of the data analysis will be discussed with reference to (1) cross-linguistic differences between Welsh and English, (2) areal variation across north Wales, and (3) the effect of social factors on intonational variation in specific communities.



Morris, J. 2017. Sociophonetic variation in a long-term language contact situation: /l/-darkening in Welsh-English bilingual speech. Journal of Sociolinguistics 21(2): 183–207.

Ordin, M. & I. Mennen. 2017. Cross-linguistic differences in bilinguals' fundamental frequency ranges. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research 60(6): 1493–1506.



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