Monday, 5 April 2010

Scottish phonetics

On days two and three of the BAAP colloquium last week there was quite a lot about the phonetics of Scottish English.

• Dominic Watt et al have been studying the surprisingly sharp accent border between England and Scotland. People in Carlisle (west coast) and Berwick (east coast) sound English; those in Gretna and Eyemouth, just a few miles to the north in each case, sound Scottish. However, judged by the (non)application of the Scottish Vowel Length Rule and the degree of VOT, the linguistic border is somewhat blurred in the west, less so in the east.

• Eleanor Lawson et al showed that many cases of /r/ that would be classed auditorily as ‘postalveolar’ are actually “bunched”, not involving a retroflex lingual configuration, not even with tongue raising. (See my blog for 8 Feb 2010.) They also confirmed that middle-class speakers in the Scottish Central Belt (Glasgow–Edinburgh) have stronger realizations of /r/ than working-class speakers, for whom “an audible /r/ articulation seems almost absent”. So the middle class are bunched, the working class are on the way to nonrhoticity.

• Glasgow Asian is by now a distinct recognized accent (used by locally-born people of Indian origin). Jane Stuart-Smith et al found that the resonance of syllable-initial l was less dark in speakers of Glasgow Asian than in those of non-Asian Glaswegian. There was less difference for those with a network of non-Asian friends and those whose religious/cultural practices were ‘modern’ rather than ‘traditional’.

10 comments:

  1. I'm very surprised by the first bullet point. I've always found Northumberland accents to sound half-Scottish and Cumbrian accents to sound Northern English.

    There used to be rhoticity, a strut-foot split and retention of /hw/ (which, what, etc.) in Northumberland. Have these died out?

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  2. Ed, you're right in one sense, wrong in another. The point is that the English/Scottish line is remarkably clearcut, even if places like northern Northumbria do have various Scottish-like features.

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  3. I was just surprised that Carlisle was more Scots-sounding than Berwick. I've never actually been to Carlisle or met anyone from there. When I've been to the Lake District though, the local people didn't sound Scottish to me; I remember it as similar to Lancashire. On the other hand, I have been to Berwick and thought they sounded half-Scottish.

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  4. Interesting. Maybe Scotland in general is on its way to non-rhoticity. After all, it is the only country on the isle of Great Britain who hasn't "made the switch".

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  5. "who" -> "that"

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  6. @Anonymous:

    I dint think it's accurate to say that Wales "made the switch" to nonrhoticity. Wales has been nonrhotic ever since it became majority Anglophone in the nineteenth century.

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  7. I knew that. But it still carried on the change that was made by the English not too long before then. Is "dint" a word?

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  8. It is a of course word, but is it appropriate in the context you used it in?

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  9. I think the 'blurriness' in the west results from Gretna being less Scottish in terms of VOT and SVLR. Carlisle does definitely not sound Scottish.

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