Salience Effects in the North-West of England

Sandra Jansen


The question of how we can define salience, what properties it includes and how we can quantify it have been discussed widely over the past thirty years but we still have more questions than answers about this phenomenon, e. g. not only how salience arises, but also how we can define it. However, despite the lack of a clear definition, salience is often taken into account as an explanatory factor in language change. The scientific discourse on salience has in most cases revolved around phonetic features, while hardly any variables on other linguistic levels have been investigated in terms of their salience. Hence, one goal of this paper is to argue for an expanded view of salience in the sociolinguistic context. This article investigates the variation and change of two groups of variables in Carlisle, an urban speech community in the north west of England. I analyse the variable (th) and in particular the replacement of /θ/ with [f] which is widely known as th-fronting. The use of three discourse markers is also examined. Both groups of features will then be discussed in the light of sociolinguistic salience.