Acquisition of Scottish English Phonology: an overview

Scobbie, James M and Gordeeva, Olga B. and Matthews, Benjamin (2006) Acquisition of Scottish English Phonology: an overview. QMU Speech Science Research Centre Working Papers. (Unpublished)


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Scottish English is usually characterized as “a language continuum from Broad Scots to Scottish Standard English” (Corbett, McClure & Stuart-Smith, 2003, p.2). A 1996 survey preparatory to the 2001 census by the General Register Office (Scotland) estimated that about 30% of the Scottish population use (Broad) Scots to some extent, rising to 90% in the North East. The linguistic situation on the ground is complicated somewhat by population movement and dialect contact (as well as uncertainty about what constitutes Scots or Scottish Standard English (SSE) in the first place). Scots derives from the Anglian variety of Old English spoken in the 6th century, and varies regionally, whereas SSE is far more homogenous geographically. Scots speakers still tend only to be exposed in childhood to a Scottish English continuum which is rooted in their own local variety of Scots and so are not influenced much by other geographically delimited broad varieties. This continuum is of course just one aspect of sociolinguistic variation and is itself always undergoing language change: large differences should be expected between older more conservative speakers and the young as well as regionally and socio-economically. In the urban setting, local housing variation means that adjacent neighbourhoods may have markedly different linguistic profiles. Even the two ends of the Scots-SSE continuum are largely mutually intelligible, though mastery of SSE will not prepare someone new to Scotland (or indeed naïve Scots themselves) for the difficulties they will face in understanding a broad speaker from an unfamiliar area. In general, the closely-related varieties of Scottish English can be thought of as being parallel with — but independent from — the other Englishes of the UK, but with their own national focus, however vague that is. The size, proximity and influence of England, as well as population movements mean, however, that historically and synchronically, the Scottish English continuum is attracted towards its English neighbour.

Item Type: Article
Additional Information: This series consists of unpublished “working” papers. They are not final versions and may be superseded by publication in journal or book form, which should be cited in preference. All rights remain with the author(s) at this stage, and circulation of a work in progress in this series does not prejudice its later publication. Comments to authors are welcome.
Divisions: School of Health Sciences > Clinical Audiology, Speech and Language Research Centre
Date Deposited: 12 Jan 2009 15:56
Last Modified: 02 Feb 2017 15:37


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