The unstoppable glottal: tracking rapid change an iconic British variable

Smith, J. and Holmes-Elliott, S. (2018) The unstoppable glottal: tracking rapid change an iconic British variable. English Language and Linguistics, 22(3), pp. 323-355. (doi: 10.1017/S1360674316000459)

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This article presents a sociolinguistic investigation of a rapidly expanding innovation in the UK, glottal replacement, in a variety spoken in northeast Scotland. Quantitative analysis of the form shows a dramatic change in apparent time: from a minority variant in the older generation to a full 90 per cent use in the younger generation. Further analysis of the constraints on use provide a detailed snapshot of how this variant moves through social and linguistic space. Males use higher rates of the non-standard form in the older generations but this constraint is neutralised in the younger generations as the form increases. Styleshifting according to interlocutor also neutralises through time. While these results across the social constraints are in line with previous analyses, the linguistic constraints differ in this variety. In contrast to most other varieties, intervocalic contexts such as bottle show high rates of glottal replacement. Moreover, word-internal foot-initial contexts (e.g. sometimes) also frequently allow the non-standard variant, despite this being rare in other dialects. Although glottal replacement is largely considered to be a ‘torchbearer’ of geographical diffusion, this in-depth analysis suggests that different varieties may have different pathways of change in the rapid transition from [t] to [ʔ] throughout the UK.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Holmes-Elliott, Dr Sophie and Smith, Professor Jennifer
Authors: Smith, J., and Holmes-Elliott, S.
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Journal Name:English Language and Linguistics
Publisher:Cambridge University Press
ISSN (Online):1469-4379
Published Online:18 January 2017
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2017 Cambridge University Press
First Published:First published in English Language and Linguistics 22(3): 323-355
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
594331One Speaker, two dialects: bidialectalism across the generations in a Scottish community.Jennifer SmithEconomic & Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/K000861/1CRIT - ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LINGUISTICS