The SQUARE-NURSE merger in Greater Manchester : the impact of social and spatial identity on phonological variation
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This study examines the SQUARE/NURSE merger in three neighbouring locations in Greater Manchester. Several approaches are used to provide explanations for the geographical patterns of variation that are observed. These include traditional dialectological approaches and more recent ideas of dialect geography that take speakers’ perception of their social and geographical identities into account. A usage based approach to accounting for phonological variation and change is applied to the data by considering word-frequency as a variable. The implications of variation in the SQUARE/NURSE merger for speakers’ phonological systems are considered by comparing the situation for Greater Manchester SQUARE/NURSE with other phonological mergers and splits.