On the tail of the Scottish Vowel Length Rule in Glasgow

Rathcke, T. and Stuart-Smith, J. (2016) On the tail of the Scottish Vowel Length Rule in Glasgow. Language and Speech, 59(3), pp. 404-430. (doi: 10.1177/0023830915611428)

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One of the most famous sound features of Scottish English is the short/long timing alternation of /i u ai/ vowels, which depends on the morpho-phonemic environment, and is known as the Scottish Vowel Length Rule (SVLR). These alternations make the status of vowel quantity in Scottish English (quasi-)phonemic but are also susceptible to change, particularly in situations of intense sustained dialect contact with Anglo-English. Does the SVLR change in Glasgow where dialect contact at the community level is comparably low? The present study sets out to tackle this question, and tests two hypotheses involving (1) external influences due to dialect-contact and (2) internal, prosodically induced factors of sound change. Durational analyses of /i u a/ were conducted on a corpus of spontaneous Glaswegian speech from the 1970s and 2000s; four speaker groups were compared, two of middle-aged men, and two of adolescent boys. Our hypothesis that the development of the SVLR over time may be internally constrained and interact with prosody was largely confirmed. We observed weakening effects in its implementation which were localised in phrase-medial unaccented positions in all speaker groups, and in phrase-final positions in the speakers born after the Second World War. But unlike some other varieties of Scottish or Northern English which show weakening of the Rule under a prolonged contact with Anglo-English, dialect contact seems to be having less impact on the durational patterns in Glaswegian vernacular, probably because of the overall reduced potential for a regular, everyday contact in the West of Scotland.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Rathcke, Dr Tamara and Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane
Authors: Rathcke, T., and Stuart-Smith, J.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Journal Name:Language and Speech
Publisher:SAGE Publications
ISSN (Online):1756-6053
Published Online:01 December 2015
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2016 SAGE Publications
First Published:First published in Language and Speech 59(3):404-430
Publisher Policy:Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
559031Fine phonetic variation and sound change: a real-time study of GlaswegianJane Stuart-SmithLeverhulme Trust (LEVERHULME)RPG-142CRIT - ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LINGUISTICS