Derhoticisation in Scottish English: a sociophonetic journey
Scobbie, James M.
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Stuart-Smith, J., Lawson, E. & Scobbie, J. M. (2014) Derhoticisation in Scottish English: a sociophonetic journey. In: Celata, C. & Calamai, S. (eds.) Advances in Sociophonetics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins, pp. 59-96.
Sociophonetic variation presents us with challenges and opportunities. This paper focuses on an area of phonetic variation which is particularly rich and informative about the social exploitation of the complexities of the acoustics-articulatory relationship - namely fine-grained variation and change in Scottish English coda /r/. Scottish English is typically thought to be 'rhotic' (e.g. Wells 1982), such that postvocalic /r/ in words such as car, card, and better are realized with some kind of articulated rhotic consonant (approximant, tap, and exceptionally a trill). This paper presents historical and more recent sociophonetic data from the Central Belt of Scotland (from Edinburgh to Glasgow), which show auditory/impressionistic, acoustic, and articulatory evidence of derhoticisation (e.g. Stuart-Smith 2003; Stuart-Smith et al 2007; Lawson et al 2011a; Lawson et al 2011). Derhoticisation is especially evident in working-class speakers, whilst middle-class speakers are developing auditorily 'stronger' rhotics and merging vowels before /r/. We consider the geographical and social distribution of the rhotic-derhotic continuum in these varieties and the linguistic and sociolinguistic factors involved, and the evidence to date that exists from speech perception and social evaluation of speech. We conclude by considering how sociophonological detail and abstraction are encoded in mental representations (cf e.g. Johnson 2006).