Scottish English

Scottish English

Scottish English is the variety of English spoken in Scotland, also called Scottish Standard English. [ [ "The SCOTS Corpus contains documents in Scottish Standard English, documents in different varieties of Scots, and documents which may be described as lying somewhere between Scots and Scottish Standard English."] , Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech] [ [ "... Scottish Standard English, the standard form of the English language spoken in Scotland"] , Ordnance Survey] It is also the register normally used in formal, non-fiction writing. Scottish English should not be confused with Scots.


Scottish English is the result of dialect contact between Scots and English after the 17th century. The resulting shift to English by Scots-speakers resulted in many phonological compromises and lexical transfers, often mistaken for mergers by linguists unfamiliar with the history of Scottish English (Macafee, 2004). Furthermore, the process was also influenced by interdialectal forms, hypercorrections and spelling pronunciations. (See Phonology below.)

In spelling and punctuation, Scottish English does not normally differ from other British dialects of English. The speech of the middle classes in Scotland tends to conform to the grammatical norms of the written standard, particularly in situations that are regarded as formal. Highland English is slightly different from the variety spoken in the Lowlands in that it is more phonologically, grammatically, and lexically influenced by a Gaelic substratum.


Scottish English has a number of lexical items which are rare in Southern British English (and possibly other forms of standard English). General items are "outwith", meaning "outside of"; "wee", the Scots word for small (which also occurs in Hiberno-English, Geordie English, American English and New Zealand English); "pinkie" for little finger and "janitor" for caretaker (both of which also occur in American English).Examples of culturally specific items are "caber", "haggis", and "landward" for rural.

There is a wide range of (often anglicised) legal and administrative vocabulary inherited from Scots, e.g., "depute" IPA|/ˈdɛpjut/ for "deputy", "proven" IPA|/ˈproːvən/ for "proved", "interdict" for "injunction" and "sheriff substitute" for "acting sheriff".

Often, lexical differences between Scottish English and Southern Standard English are simply differences in the distribution of shared lexis, such as "stay" for "live" (as in: "where do you stay?"); "doubt" for "think the worst" ("I doubt it will rain" meaning "I fear that it will rain" instead of the standard English meaning "I think it unlikely that it will rain")."Correct" is often preferred to "right" (meaning "morally right" or "just") when the speaker means "factually accurate".


While pronunciation features vary among speakers (depending on region and social status), there are a number of phonological aspects characteristic of Scottish English:

* Scottish English is a rhotic accent, meaning IPA|/r/ is pronounced in the syllable coda. As with Standard English (RP), IPA|/r/ may be an alveolar approximant (IPA| [ɹ] , although it is also common that a speaker will use an alveolar tap IPA| [ɾ] . Less common is use of the alveolar trill IPA| [r] (hereafter, will be used to denote any rhotic consonant).
**While other dialects have merged IPA|/ɛ/, IPA|/ɪ/, IPA|/ʌ/ before IPA|/r/, Scottish English makes a distinction between the vowels in "herd", "bird", and "curd".
**Many varieties contrast IPA|/o/ and IPA|/ɔ/ before IPA|/r/ so that "hoarse" and "horse" are pronounced differently.
**IPA|/or/ and IPA|/ur/ are contrasted so that "shore" and "sure" are pronounced differently, as are "pour" and "poor".
*There is a distinction between IPA|/w/ and IPA|/ʍ/ (also analysed as IPA|/hw/) in word pairs such as "witch" and "which".
*The phoneme IPA|/x/ is common in names and in SSE's many Gaelic and Scots borrowings, so much so that it is often taught to incomers, particularly for "ch" in loch. Some Scottish speakers use it in words of Greek origin as well, such as technical, patriarch, etc. (Wells 1982, 408).
*IPA|/l/ is usually velarized (see dark l). In areas where Scottish Gaelic was spoken until recently (such as Dumfries and Galloway), velarization may be absent.
*Vowel length is generally regarded as non-phonemic, although a distinctive part of Scottish English is the Scots vowel length rule (Scobbie et al. 1999). Certain vowels (such as IPA|/i/, IPA|/u/, and IPA|/æ/ are generally long but are shortened before nasals and voiced plosives. However, this does not occur across morpheme boundaries so that "crude" contrasts with "crewed", "need" with "kneed" and "side" with "sighed".
*Scottish English has no IPA|/ʊ/, instead transferring Scots IPA|/u/. Phonetically, this vowel may be more front, being pronounced as IPA| [ʉ] or even IPA| [y] . Thus "pull" and "pool" are homophones.
*"Cot" and "caught" are not differentiated as in some other dialects.
*In most varieties, there is no IPA|/æ/:IPA|/ɑː/ distinction; therefore, "bath", "trap", and "palm" have the same vowel; "cat" and "cart" are distinguished only by means of the "r"; and "marry" rhymes with "starry".
*/θs/ is often used in plural nouns where southern English has /ðz/ (baths, youths, etc); "with" and "booth" are pronounced with θ. (See Pronunciation of English th.)
*In colloquial speech (especially among young males), the glottal stop may be an allophone of IPA|/t/ after a vowel, as in IPA| [ˈbʌʔər] . These same speakers may "drop the g" in the suffix "-ing" and debuccalize IPA|/θ/ to IPA| [h] in certain contexts.


Grammar and syntax

Syntactical differences are few though the progressive verb forms are used rather more frequently than in other varieties of standard English, for example with some stative verbs ("I'm wanting a drink"). The future progressive frequently implies an assumption ("You'll be coming from Glasgow").Prepositions are often used differently. The compound preposition "off of" is often used parallel to English "into" ("Take that off of the table").


In colloquial speech "shall" and "ought" are wanting, "must" is marginal for obligation and "may" is rare. Many syntactical features of SSE are found in other forms of English, e.g. English language in England and North American English:
* "It's your shot" for "It's your turn".
* "My hair is needing washed" or "My hair needs washed" for "My hair needs washing" or "My hair needs to be washed".
* "Amn't I invited?" for "Am I not invited?"
* "How not?" for "Why not?"
* "What age are you?" for "How old are you?"
* "Yous", being the plural of you. This is likely a borrowing from Hiberno EnglishFact|date=September 2008, found particularly in Dublin.

The use of "How?" meaning "Why?" is distinctive of Scottish , Northern English and Northern Irish English.

Note that in Scottish English, the first person declarative "I amn't invited" and interrogative "Amn't I invited?" are both possible. Contrast English language in England, which has "Aren't I?" but no contracted declarative form. (All varieties have "I'm not invited".)

cots and Scottish English

As many Scots use both Scots and Scottish English depending on the situation, there is a strong influence of Scots, and sometimes it is difficult to say whether a Scots form also belongs to Scottish English or whether its occasional appearance in Scottish English is simply code-switching. Borderline examples might be "aye" for "yes", "ken" for "know" (Ken what I mean?), or "no" for "not" ("Am I no invited?").


*cite book|author=Abercrombie, D.|year=1979|chapter=The accents of Standard English in Scotland.|editor=In A. J. Aitken & T. McArthur (eds.),|title=Languages of Scotland|pages=65–84|location=Edinburgh |publisher=Chambers
* Aitken, A. J. (1979) "Scottish speech: a historical view with special reference to the Standard English of Scotland" in A. J. Aitken and Tom McArthur eds. Languages of Scotland, Edinburgh: Chambers, 85-118. Updated in next.
*cite book |author=Corbett, John, J. Derrick McClure, and Jane Stuart-Smith (eds.) |title=Edinburgh Student Companion to Scots |location=Edinburgh |publisher=Edinburgh University Press |year=2003 |id=ISBN 0-7486-1596-2
*cite book |author=Foulkes, Paul; & Docherty, Gerard. J. (Eds.) |year=1999 |title=Urban Voices: Accent Studies in the British Isles |location=London |publisher=Arnold |id=ISBN 0-340-70608-2
*cite book|author=Macafee, C.|year=2004|chapter=Scots and Scottish English.|editor=In Hikey R.(ed.),|title=Legacies of Colonial English: Studies in Transported Dialects|pages= |location=Cambridge |publisher=CUP
*cite book |author=Hughes, A., Trudgill, P. & Watt, D. (Eds.) |year=2005|title=English Accents and Dialects (4th Ed.) |location=London |publisher=Arnold |id=ISBN 0-340-88718-4
*cite book|author=Scobbie, James M., Nigel Hewlett, and Alice Turk|year=1999|chapter=Standard English in Edinburgh and Glasgow: The Scottish Vowel Length Rule revealed.|editor=In Paul Foulkes & Gerard J. Docherty (eds.), |title=Urban Voices: Accent Studies in the British Isles|pages=230–245|location=London |publisher=Arnold
*cite book |author=Wells, John C. |title=Accents of English |location=Cambridge |publisher=Cambridge University Press |year=1982 |id=ISBN 0-521-22919-7 (vol. 1), ISBN 0-521-24224-X (vol. 2), ISBN 0-521-24225-8 (vol. 3)

See also

* Dialect
* Languages in the United Kingdom
* Regional accents of English speakers
* Scottish Corpus of Texts and Speech
* Scotticism

External links

* [ Scottish Corpus of Texts & Speech] - Multimedia corpus of Scots and Scottish English
* [ The Speech Science Research Centre ] at Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh.
* [ Sounds Familiar?] ndash Listen to examples of Scottish English and other regional accents and dialects of the UK on the British Library's 'Sounds Familiar' website

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