Masaryk University Faculty of Arts

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Masaryk University

Faculty of Arts
Department of English
and American Studies

English Language and Literature

Eva Vahalíková


Formal vs. Informal Utterances

of Scottish Speakers

Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: PhDr. Kateřina Tomková, Ph.D.

I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.


Author’s signature

I would like to thank my supervisor PhDr. Kateřina Tomková, Ph.D. for her motivation, patient guidance and inspiration throughout writing this thesis.

I would like to thank also all informants, who kindly allowed to be recorded, and my family and friends for their patience, prayers, and other support.

List of phonetic symbols and signs i

Standard lexical sets iv

introduction 1


1.1.Accent and Dialect 3

1.1.1.Accent 3

1.1.2.Dialect 4

1.2.Standard English 5

1.2.1.History of Standard English 5

1.2.2.Characteristic Features of Standard English 6

1.2.3.Received Pronunciation 6

1.3.General American 8

1.4.Scottish English 8

2.languages spoken in Scotland 9

2.1.Historical Setting 9

2.1.1.Early Days of Scottish Gaelic and Scots 9

2.1.2.Rise of the English language 11

2.2.Scottish English 13

2.2.1.Anglicisation 14

2.3.Renaissance of Scots and Gaelic? 14

3.PHONOLOGY of Scottish English 17

3.1.Segmental Features 17

3.1.1.Vowels 17

3.1.2.Consonants 25

3.2.Prosodic Features 27

3.2.1.Pitch, Intonation 27

3.2.2.Rhythm 28

3.3.Paralinguistic Features 28

4.Sociolinguistic Features 29

4.1.Geography and Mobility 29

4.2.Social and Economical Class 30

4.3.Age and Gender 30

4.4.Code-Switching 31

4.5.Innovations 32

4.6.Utterances 32

4.6.1.Informal Utterance 33

4.6.2.Formal Utterance 33

5.Fieldwork and Recordings 34

5.1.Introduction 34

5.1.1.Recordings, Interview 34

5.1.2.Informants 34

5.1.3.Locality 35

5.2.Text Passage 37

5.3.Transcription and Analysis 37

5.3.1.Typical local features of the language in Central Scotland 38

5.3.2.Transcription in RP 38

5.3.3.Robert Martin 39

5.3.4.Patricia Margaret Williams 41

5.3.5.Gerry Watson 43

5.3.6.Cara McNiel 45

Conclusion 47

Bibliography 48

Appendix 51



List of phonetic symbols and signs



a front, open mid; first element of RP diphthong /aɪ/ in cry

ɑ back, open; for RP /ɑː/ in calm

æ front, between open and open mid; bad

e front, close mid; first element of RP diphthong /eɪ/ in face, /e/ in net, SSE never

ə central; initial vowel in about

ɜ central, open mid; earth

i front, close; also for /iː/ in feel

ɪ centralized, close mid; list

ʌ back, open mid; sun


ɒ back, open; cot

ɔ back, open mid; used for first element of RP diphthong /ɔɪ/ in choice; for RP /ɔː/ in law

o back, close mid;

u back, close; used for /uː/ in root

ʉ central, close; for ScE goose

ʊ centralized, close mid to close; look


b voiced bilabial plosive; labour

d voiced alveolar plosive; sudden

ð voiced dental fricative; other

f voiceless labiodentals fricative; phonetics

g voiced velar plosive; eagle

h voiceless glottal fricative; horse

j voiced palatal approximant; yacht

k voiceless velar plosive; kidney

l voiced alveolar lateral approximant; lock

ɫ voiced alveolar lateral approximant with velarization; fell

m voiced bilabial nasal; mouse

ɱ voiced labiodentals nasal; triumph

n voiced uvular nasal; number

ŋ voiced velar nasal; hunger

p voiceless bilabial plosive; pepper

r voiced alveolar trill; SSE r in procrastinate

ɾ voiced alveolar tap; SSE in very

ɹ voiced post-alveolar approximant; cockroach

ɻ voiced retroflex approximant; GenAm in war

s voiceless alveolar fricative; sample

ʃ voiceless palate alveolar fricative; shout

tʃ voiced palate alveolar affricate; ch in leech

t voiceless alveolar plosive; tender

θ voiceless dental fricative; thought

v voiced labiodentals fricative; voice

w voiced labial velar approximant; weather

ʍ voiceless labial velar fricative; SSE wh in whisper

x voiceless velar fricative; SSE ch in loch

z voiced alveolar fricative; zest

ʒ voiced post alveolar fricative; massage

dʒ voiced palato alveolar fricative; g in pigeon

ʔ voiceless glottal plosive; emphatic pronunciation of accident

ǂ palatoalveolar click; audible in Recording 6: Gerry Watson - Informal

Other symbols

[ ] allophonic transcription

/ / phonemic transcription

# stem boundary, word boundary

. syllable boundary

$ syllable boundary

| minor (foot) group

‖ major (intonation) group

ˈ primary stress

ˌ secondary stress

ː long

ˑ half long

 ̆ extra short

 ̥ voiceless

 ̬ voiced

ʳ optional r

˞ rhoticized

ʰ aspirated

Standard lexical sets

A lexical set is a set of words in which particular vowels are pronounced in the same way. It comprises of keywords chosen in such a way that clarity is maximized, each keyword standing for a large number of words which behave in the same way in respect of the incidence of vowels in different accent.

These two lexical sets were adapted from Wells (1982).































































ae, ai







































e, ɪ, i




The main focus of this thesis is Scottish English and its modifications.

The variability of the pronunciation of Scottish English depends on an immense number of factors. Not only does the Scottish accent vary according to different regions but it also depends on the speaker and the type of discourse.

The aim of this thesis is to investigate the use of Scottish English accents in formal and informal utterances, represented by spontaneous conversation and by reading of a written text.

First four chapters are devoted to theoretical issues which are necessary for understanding of the linguistic situation of Scotland, namely to defining key terms accent, dialect, and Standard English; to historical background of Scottish Standard English; to morphology of Scottish English; and to sociolinguistic features influencing the language. The fifth chapter is devoted to the fieldwork, namely to the analysis of materials recorded in Scotland in the summer 2010.

For writing the theoretical part of this thesis, J. C. Wells’ (1982) three volumes of Accents of English, Aitken and McArthur’s (1979) Languages of Scotland, Macafee’s (n. d.) History of Scots to 1700, Cruttenden’s (2008) Gimson’s Pronunciation of English, and many others were most valuable sources of information.

The author realises that many works concerning the linguistic situation of Scotland have been written in the past. Dispite of this, the author hopes that this case study of the use of a particular accent in different kinds of utterances will contribute to the understanding of language used in Scotland.

The author of this thesis encountered Scottish English in the summer 2010 for the first time, when she visited Scotland. However, the author was confronted with very critical opinions on the language used in Scotland even before she left for Scotland. During the visit, the author had many opportunities to talk to Scottish people and she realised the immense variability of the English used in Scotland.

One of the impulses to write this thesis was a friendship with Robert Martin, who spoke about the language, history and culture of Scotland enthusiastically. The interest in the language used in Scotland grew even more during author’s travelling around the Scotland. Since the main means of transport was hitchhiking, the author of this thesis had many opportunities to meet people from different parts of Scotland and thus compare different accents of Scottish English.

After the return to Perth, the author started to collect material which would create the basis of this thesis.

Further focus of this thesis on formal and informal aspects of utterances resulted from a liaison with Mr. Ian Foster, who abandoned his Scottish accent during his military service so as to prevent teasing by his fellow-conscripts. It was his negative experience what draw author’s attention to sociolinguistic and factors influencing accents.


Speaking about language presents a challenge especially as far as Speaking about language presents a challenge especially as far as widespread languages (such as English) are concerned. Though English is not the most dominant language in the world, its importance is immense – more than 330 million people in thirty six territories speak English as their first language. Moreover, another seventy territories host around 300 million people speaking English as their second language, let aside countless people who speak English formally for occupation reasons or as lingua franca (Baugh & Cable, 1991; McArthur, 1996).

All these people would claim they speak English. It is obvious that they have something in common, but it can be correctly argued that the English of a Jamaican is not the same language for a Scot. To be able to discuss their similarities and differences, it is necessary to itroduce the terminology and set the deffinitions of Dialect, Accent and Standard English.

    1. Accent and Dialect

Accent and dialect sometimes merge one into the other without any discrete break (Chambers & Trudgill, 1980, p. 5) which may lead to misunderstanding of these terms.

Generally, it can be said that accents mean only the features of the dialect concerning pronunciation, for example a British and North American accent, whereas dialects are formed by geographic and social variations (Rogers, 2000, p. 17).

      1. Accent

For a proper definition of an accent, pronunciation is a key factor. Indeed, Chambers and Trudgill (1980) see accent as ‘a way in which a speaker pronounces and therefore refers to a variety which is phonetically and/or phonologically different from other varieties’ (p. 5). Wells (1984) applies this term right to English by saying that accent is a pattern of pronunciation used by a speaker for whom English is the native language or, more generally, by the community or a social grouping to which he of she belongs’ (p. 1).

For the sake of accuracy, it is useful to emphasize the other meaning of an accent, that is a synonym of ‘stress’ or as a term referring to a complex of stress and tonal features; however, accent is not used in this sense in this thesis.

      1. Dialect

Downes (1998) claims that dialect is a subdivision of a language, which ‘varies from other dialects of the same language simultaneously on all three linguistic levels; phonologically, grammatically, and in terms of its vocabulary or lexically’ (p.18) and that they ‘emerge through time by a process of splitting from a single parent variety’ (p. 19). Downes (1980) also notices that the more remote two dialects are from each other geographically, the more they differ (p. 18). Coulmas (2004) concludes that there can be more dialects in one place and dialects show a speaker’s regional origin. He also argues that speakers can adjust their speech behaviour to a particular social circumstance and thus dialects show their social position. (p. 18)

Trudgill (1999) distinguishes two different sorts of dialects:

  1. Traditional Dialects

Traditional dialects are spoken by minority of English speaking population around the world. They can be found in remote peripheral and rural areas of England, in eastern, central, and southern Scotland where it is known as Scots, and in a part of Northern Ireland. They differ from Standard English considerably as well as from each other, and they may be difficult to understand.

  1. Mainstream Dialects

Mainstream dialects include the Standard English Dialect and the Modern Nonstandard Dialects. These dialects are associated with native speakers outside the British Isles (America, Canada, Australia) and in Britain with southeast of England, Scottish Highlands, much of Wales, western Cornwall, with the speech of most younger people, and with middle- and upper-class speakers. Mainstream dialects differ much less from Standard English and from each other, and they are often distinguished much more by their accent. (pp. 5 6)

    1. Standard English

If there are plenty of definitions of dialect and accent, much more is to be said about Standard English. The main debate is whether SE is superordinate to the dialects – as argues Downes (1998) who claims that SE is autonomous of other historically related varieties, thus independent linguistic system and not a part of something else – or whether SE is a dialect as claims McIntosh (1952).

Tom McArthur (1979) introduces a very neat concept of a World Standard English which brings light to this issue. He sees WSE as ‘a more or less homogeneous range of internationally acceptable norms of spelling, grammar, vocabulary and pronunciation’ (p. 50). According this definition, there is an English Standard English different from the standards in Scotland and Wales, and a British Standard English which subsumes them all (McArthur, 1979, p. 51), which implies that SE is a dialect as well.

Baugh & Cable (1991) go further by arguing that that SE as a class dialect rather than a regional dialect. Yet Cohen (1965) have similarly employed the sociolinguistic criteria when he spoke about SE as a ‘careful speech of educated speakers in the South of England’ (p. 22).

      1. History of Standard English

The differentiation of the language has its roots in the insufficient communication between the regions and the exposure to different external influences, such as foreign invasions. These factors caused that the speech of all communities did not develop in the same direction and at the same rate (Cruttenden, 2008, p. 76).

The standard in speech and writing started to be recognized in the speech of the court at the end of 14th century. It developed from East Midland District because of its middle position between the extreme divergences of the north and the south, more valuable land – reflected by the number and prosperity of inhabitants –, and presence of the universities, Oxford and Cambridge. With growing of the importance of London as a capital, the standard had been widely accepted and could be characterized like the London Standard. In the fifteenth century, London dialect was being spread thanks to Caxton’s printing press. However, the standard was still unsettled in renaissance until 1650 (Baugh & Cable, 1991).

Since the Renaissance until more recent history, Blake (1996) observes ‘the political and educational will to impose a standard on the country as a whole by one means or another’ (p. 8). Firstly it was standard only in writing but at the end of the twentieth century, the government encouraged the use of Standard Spoken English as well (p. 318).

      1. Characteristic Features of Standard English

When describing SE, most scholars make reference to its spoken form as well. Both Blake (1996) and Trudgill (1999) agree that SE is a variety characterised by its written form, which is highly regulated, and speech, and enshrined in National Curriculum.

It is used by upper class – by the most educated and powerful members of the English population – which makes it a prestige norm in England and Wales (Downes, 1998).

No more than 12—15 per cent of the population of England are native speakers of SE, and 7—12 per cent of the population of England speak it with some regional accent (Trudgill, 1999, p. 3), yet Downes (1998) claims that SE is a national norm as such it is not [geographically] localized, which contrasts it with highly diverse speech of lower classes (p. 139).

      1. Received Pronunciation

According to Abercombie’s claim (1965), Received Pronunciation is an ‘accentless’ pronunciation of SE, leaving aside the fact, that it is as much an accent as any other (p. 11). Some scholars describe RP as a form of spoken English used by upper classes and by many of the well-educated (Blake, 1996; Rogers, 2000).

The basics of RP were established in the first quarter of 20th century by Daniel Jones who formed a variety of characteristic features that would be a model for those wanting to learn the language. It was buit on geographical, gender and class considerations and spread through the education and the many books he had written. (Blake, 1996, p. 313). Since it was most widely understood and provoked least prejudice of a regional kind, it was also heard mainly on the radio and TV, and during the WWII it spread very rapidly. However, as early as the 1980s, Gimson (1984) noticed that the communication media was undergoing a period of greater tolerance in their choice of newsreaders, and that RP was no longer a requirement for social success.

There are three main types of RP according to the pronunciations possible (Cruttenden, 2008, p. 78):

  1. General RP

It is general received pronunciation which reflects neither a class distinction nor regional variation.

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