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How specific lexical terms have evolved to be associated with different groups, predominantly with reference to Alan Ross’s ‘Linguistic class indicators in Present Day English’ study

Society as a whole makes assumptions about an individual’s intelligence, economic status, and social class based on their speech characteristics. This leads to both conscious and unconscious efforts from a speaker to alter the way they are perceived through language. This process is highlighted in Alan C. Ross’s paper (Ross, A.C., 1953) on linguistic class indicators in the 1950’s, with an emphasis on the language of the Middle and Upper Classes. My study aims to assess whether features indicated to be prevalent by Ross have maintained their strong socioeconomic connotations, or whether in the present day these terms and their subsequent significance has become redundant.
Ross stated that the Upper Classes were only really differentiated from the Middle Classes linguistically, therefore, language was the most important factor to consider when assessing someone’s socioeconomic status at the time, at least in Ross’s mind. He focused on assessing which specific linguistic features belonged to the authentically prestigious - ‘The U’- and which were associated with those within the Middle Classes attempting to climb their way up the social ladder via language, namely the ‘Non-U’.
My study has three predominant objectives, the first being to evaluate whether Ross’s observations of lexical features specific to the Upper Classes remain, or whether they have lost all associated class related connotations. The second aim is to discern whether there are new linguistic features that have emerged that enable individuals to convey specific class alignment. The final objective is to assess why it is that people do alter their speech style, both knowingly and unintentionally, and to look at this in the context of linguistic accommodation. If this study enables me to discover that class related linguistic boundaries are dissolving, then I want to evaluate why this is the case.
To gather data to fulfil the above objectives, I will source adult speakers of English over the age of 18 to take part in two surveys, one of which will exhibit images of various objects most of which were referred to by Ross, and will ask participants to select which of the given descriptions they would apply to said object, with an option to type their own answer. The second survey will present a series of sentences and ask participants to select one of the multiple-choice options to assume the speaker’s age, gender and socioeconomic status. I will have collected demographic data about participants such as their own social status, and their geographical location, so that the two studies will convey varied ways in which linguistic judgements are made in relation to the socioeconomic status of both the participant and the assumed characteristics of the speaker.

Muir, Joinson, A., Cotterill, R., & Dewdney, N. (2016). Characterizing the Linguistic Chameleon: Personal and Social Correlates of Linguistic Style Accommodation: Characterizing the Linguistic Chameleon. Human Communication Research, 42(3), 462–484. Accessed 14/01/2022 at - 
Ross, A. S. C. (1954). LINGUISTIC CLASS-INDICATORS IN PRESENT-DAY ENGLISH. Neuphilologische Mitteilungen, 55(1), 20–56.
Accessed 17/01/2022 at -