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Maybe it's a grime [t]ing: th-stopping among urban British youth

  • Rob Drummond (a1)


This article examines how voiceless th-stopping (e.g. ting for thing) is used by a group of adolescents in Manchester, UK. The data come from an ethnographic project into the speech of fourteen to sixteen year olds who have been excluded from mainstream education. Although th-stopping is often strongly associated with black varieties of English, multiple regression analysis finds ethnicity not to be a statistically significant factor in its production. Instead, conversational context and involvement in aspects of particular social practices—grime (rap) and dancehall music—emerge as potentially more relevant. Subsequent interactional analysis adds support to this interpretation, illustrating how the feature is being used more or less strategically (and more or less successfully) by individuals in this context in order to adopt particular stances, thereby enacting particular identities that are only tangentially related to ethnicity. I argue that use of th-stopping in this context indexes a particular street identity that is made more available through participation in grime especially. (th-stopping, youth language, identity, ethnography, grime, hip hop)*

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This is an Open Access article, distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution licence (, which permits unrestricted re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Corresponding author

Address for correspondence: Manchester Metropolitan University, Department of Languages, Information and Communications, Office 210, Geoffrey Manton Building, Manchester, M15 6LL, UK


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Thanks to Erin Carrie, Huw Bell, and Samuel Larner for feedback on earlier versions of this article. Also, sincere thanks to Jenny Cheshire and two anonymous reviewers, whose comments and suggestions have made this a far stronger article than it was when it began. Most of all, thanks to the young people and staff in the learning centres, whose patience and good humour made the research possible. The project was supported by a Leverhulme Trust Project Grant RPG-2014-059.



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Maybe it's a grime [t]ing: th-stopping among urban British youth

  • Rob Drummond (a1)


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