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Northern and Insular Scots

Northern and Insular Scots

Robert McColl Millar
Copyright Date: 2007
Pages: 192
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  • Book Info
    Northern and Insular Scots
    Book Description:

    The Scots dialects of northern Scotland, Orkney and Shetland are among the most traditional varieties of ‘English’. Northern and Insular Scots provides an approachable description of the phonological, structural and lexical natures of these varieties and a history of the varieties in relation to the areas in which they are spoken.

    eISBN: 978-0-7486-2996-1
    Subjects: Linguistics

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgements
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-15)

    This book is concerned with the Scots dialects of northern Scotland and the Northern Isles of Orkney and Shetland; dialects spoken by a wide variety of people living very different lives in divergent natural environments. Many speakers of the varieties concerned would be surprised to have their dialect included with some considered here, since many speakers see their dialects as being unique, even at a very local level. Yet all of these dialects are inter-related historically and culturally, even if particular dialects might be more closely connected to some members of the set than are others. They also share two...

  5. 2 Phonetics and phonology
    (pp. 16-64)

    When dealing with Scottish dialects, it must always be remembered that while it suits language activists to treat Scots and Standard English as separate languages, and the speech of many Scots may not be readily intelligible to English speakers who do not live in Scotland, most people regularly blend SSE and local dialect features in their everyday speech. This state of affairs is a relatively recent arrival to the Northern Isles and the northern mainland, and may, as we will see in Chapter 5, differ from place to place, but it is nonetheless present. Some people may rarely employ the...

  6. 3 Morphosyntax
    (pp. 65-78)

    Unlike phonology and, in particular, lexis, morphosyntactic systems are quite stable and slow to change. Close relatives, such as Standard English and all of the Scots dialects, may not be as divergent in structure as they are in lexis and phonology. An absolute distinction between northern English and Scots usage rarely exists. Moreover, although elements of the grammar of the Northern and Insular dialects are sometimes different from other Scots varieties, most of what follows is true for all Scots dialects, unless otherwise stated. Finally, there have been generations of day-to-day contact with Standard English for all Scots speakers, both...

  7. 4 Lexis
    (pp. 79-102)

    When I first moved to the North-East, I was struck by the ‘richness’ of the local dialect’s vocabulary. Many words, such as bide, ‘to reside’, while known to me, were associated in my mind with the speech of my grandparents. I now heard them daily in the language of children and young adults. This is, in fact, a feature of all the Northern and Insular dialects: many of the words which make them distinctive were once common in other Scots dialects.

    This does not mean, of course, that the various dialects do not have lexical features which make them distinctive...

  8. 5 History, including changes in progress
    (pp. 103-135)

    With sufficient perspective, the linguistic history of northern Scotland and the Northern Isles is one where, on a number of occasions, the inhabitants have changed languages, although what these languages were has differed from region to region. Therefore, to understand many of the distinctive features of these dialects, we need to understand how the inter-related phenomena of language contact and language shift work upon the variety speakers are shifting to.

    Language shift has always happened. When we look at the Mediterranean basin today, we can see that many languages, such as Gaulish, Etruscan or Punic, whose speakers wielded considerable power,...

  9. 6 Survey of previous works and annotated bibliography
    (pp. 136-148)

    There are a number of good single volume discussions of the history and use of Scots. A good idea might be to read both McClure (1997) and Jones (2002). The first is written from the perspective of an activist for the language; the latter from the perspective of a descriptive linguist who does not distinguish between There are a number of good single volume discussions of the history and use of Scots. A good idea might be to read both McClure (1997) and Jones (2002). The first is written from the perspective of an activist for the language; the latter...

  10. 7 Texts
    (pp. 149-172)

    In the following texts I have attempted to provide as comprehensive as possible a ‘snapshot’ of local speech norms throughout northern Scotland and the Northern Isles in the last year or so. Inevitably this has meant that more examples could be given of present-day Shetland dialect than of the dialects of the Black Isle, since the dialect is very much alive in the cultural and social lives of people on the various islands and regions of the archipelago. For each sample, I have provided a transcription into a Scots form of English spelling, a broad phonemic transcription and a discussion...

  11. Index
    (pp. 173-184)