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T-tapping in Standard Southern British English: An 'elite' sociolinguistic variant?

Alderton, R. ORCID: 0000-0001-8538-8531 (2022). T-tapping in Standard Southern British English: An 'elite' sociolinguistic variant?. Journal of Sociolinguistics, 26(2), pp. 287-298. doi: 10.1111/josl.12541


Social class is one of the key axes of sociolinguistic variation, but the speech of those at the top of the class spectrum—the elite—is rarely studied. While T-glottalling has spread widely across British English accents, a competing variant—T-tapping—has attracted little scholarly attention in the United Kingdom. This article presents a study of elite speech by examining sociolinguistic variation in T-tapping among adolescent speakers of Standard Southern British English. Data were collected from interviews with teenagers aged 16–19 at two schools in Hampshire, UK. T-tapping is led by those who previously attended private school and is used more by boys than girls in formal speech. The findings suggest that T-tapping may be used to index a combination of authority and informality, which is invoked by elite speakers to assert themselves from a position of privilege while maintaining an image of openness and approachability.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2021 The Authors. Journal of Sociolinguistics published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an open access article under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License, which permits use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited and is not used for commercial purposes.
Publisher Keywords: elites, social class, social meaning, Standard Southern British English, T-tapping
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Language & Communication Science
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