A corpus-based sociolinguistic study of indefinite article forms in London English

Costas Gabrielatos, Eivind Torgersen, Sebastian Hoffmann, Susan Fox

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


This article reports on work carried out as part of the project Analysis of Spoken London English Using Corpus Tools, namely, an analysis of the use of indefinite article forms in spoken London English in a corpus of transcribed interviews, combining methodologies from sociolinguistics and corpus linguistics. The authors find a relatively high frequency of a before words beginning with a vowel, where Standard English will have an. Social factors, in particular speakers’ age, ethnicity, and place of residence, are more important than linguistic factors affecting the use of a before vowels. The authors argue that the indefinite article a before vowels forms part of Multicultural London English, along with other phonological and grammatical features that have previously been documented. The indefinite article a before vowels seems to have undergone a process of reallocation in which its status has been realigned, possibly because of an increase in social acceptance of nonstandard forms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-334
Number of pages38
JournalJournal of English Linguistics
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010


  • indefinite article
  • spoken language
  • youth language
  • ethnicity
  • Multicultural London English
  • linguistic innovation
  • reallocation
  • corpus linguistics
  • sociolinguistics


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