Wednesday 7th December 2016
The Accent Van: Methods in Community Language and Identity Research
Erin Carrie (Manchester Metropolitan University)
The Manchester Voices project investigates the accents, dialects and people of Greater Manchester. It seeks to understand how the ways in which we speak help to make us who we are. Our qualitative methodological approach consisted of a team of four researchers visiting all ten boroughs of Greater Manchester in ‘the accent van’, a mobile interview booth which was fitted with a digital interview guide asking local people questions about their use of language and their local and regional identities. Some of the key benefits of this methodological approach include increased access to representative speakers from across the region of interest, the ability to gather large volumes of data in a relatively short period of time, and the reduction of interviewer bias. The data collection, which took place over six days, resulted in 108 audio- and video-recorded interviews with our talking laptop, Chester, as well as countless additional conversations with passers-by captured using audio-recording equipment. The interview data are currently being transcribed in Elan and are soon to be coded and analysed using qualitative data analysis software (NVivo) in preparation for an interactive Manchester Voices exhibition which will be launched at Manchester’s Central Library in June 2017. In this talk, I will discuss some preliminary findings but will focus largely on the highs and lows, as well as lessons learnt, during this type of community language and identity research.