Wenglish, the dialect of the south Wales valleys, as a medium for narrative and performance

  • Robert Lewis

    Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


    This study examines the characteristics of a range of narrative and performance texts featuring Wenglish, the dialect of the South Wales Valleys, in terms of their linguistic and thematic content and their relation to the community. Part One comprises an introduction to Wenglish and an overview of research on English in South Wales and approaches to language in use. In Part Two the results of textual and discourse analysis of twenty-five texts (nine literary and seven formal performance excerpts and nine personal narratives) are presented. In Part Three insights arising from analysis are applied in three pieces of new creative work in dialect. A reference list of texts containing Wenglish is appended. Cultural outputs mirror and express the community which produces them and thus the formal and informal literary output of the South Wales Valleys both reflects and expresses some of the shared characteristics, values, beliefs and preoccupations of those communities. Analysis revealed recurrent thematic clusters (e.g. community, personal identity, world of work, sport) across the range of texts, suggesting the centrality of these themes and a close link between the texts and the community. From analysis of linguistic content, a ‘Wenglish index’ was calculated for each text. The literary texts generally had lower indices than the formal performance texts. The personal narratives, though informal, all had lower indices than the formal performance material, suggesting that in this latter category, dialect features are consciously exaggerated. Discourse analytical methods generated rich interpretive material at the level of individual texts. Insights from analysis proved useful at the initial and editing phases of new creative work. The possible practical application of Wenglish material in community and interpretive projects is also discussed.
    Date of Award2010
    Original languageEnglish


    • Wales - Languages
    • English language - Dialects - Wales
    • English language - Social aspects - Wales
    • Sociolinguistics - Wales

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