Being Asian in London (TU17)

Asians are the largest ethnic minority group in the UK, just under 5% of the population, and 35% of the community lives in London. Asians have been present in the UK for centuries but their presence grew after the Second World War, when migration from Commonwealth countries was encouraged due to labour shortages in Britain. This increase in numbers initially led to race rioting and violence driven by British nationalist groups, but over the decades British Asian contributions to food, literature, music, and politics have become an established part of British culture.

This teaching unit focuses on a Punjabi neighbourhood in West London. A set of audio clips is used to illustrate many distinct ways of sounding British Asian in London. Discussion points explore the influence of social factors on speech and identity, including age and childhood experiences, ethnic politics, generational change, gender, and social networks. Students are encouraged to discuss the role of these factors in their own experience of different styles of speaking.

Discussion points
Audio: You can download the sound clips using the embedded player below. The download button is in the top right of the player window.

Linguistics Research Digest links
Fitting in to a new home – with a Bri’ish accent?