Monday, March 1, 2010

Scottish English

Politically independent from England until 1707, Scotland has a standard accent that is quite different from Received Pronunciation. Scotland also has a traditional local accent known as Scots which differs significantly from the standard accent. A number of Scots also speak Received Pronunciation.

The Scottish accent is rhotic. The "r" is usually a tap or a trill. The trill is a sound that is typically associated with Scottish English.

The lateral is usually velarized but in areas with a large number of Gaelic speakers it is often pronounced as an alveolar with no velarization. The alveolar pronunciation is typical of Irish English.

The RP vowels of "book" and "boot" have merged into a high central vowel pronounced farther forward than in RP. The words "pull" and "pool" sound alike.

The RP vowels of "bath" and "hat" have also merged. The result is a low front vowel in both.

The mid vowels of "late" and "road" are not diphthongs as they are in RP. They are pronounced as monophthongs. Irish English also pronounces these vowels as monophthongs.

The distinction between "which" and "witch" is maintained. This distinction is not maintained in RP nor in the speech of most North Americans.

In contrast to other accents in which the vowels of "fir", "her" and "fur" are pronounced identically, they are distinguished in Scottish English. The word "fir" is pronounced with the vowel of "it", the word "her" with the vowel of "let" and the word "fur" with the vowel of "up".

The unstressed vowel corresponding to a schwa is often the low mid central vowel of "sun". It is the final vowel in the word "sofa". In RP, this vowel is pronounced as a schwa.

Vowel length also differs from that of other accents. At the end of a morpheme, all vowels except the high front lax unrounded vowel of "it" and the low mid central unrounded vowel of "sun" are long. The words "row" and "agree" maintain the long vowel in "rowed" and "agreed". They contrast with "road" and "greed" which have short vowels.

All vowels, except the vowels of "it" and "sun" are long before the voiced labiodental fricative, voiced alveolar fricative, rhotic liquid and voiced interdental fricative. Thus the vowels are long in the following words: "have", "wise", "more" and "soothe".

Scottish English differs from other varieties of English in many areas. Among the features that are characteristic of Scottish English are the rhotic "r", the pronunciation of the mid vowels as monophthongs, and long vowels at the end of a morpheme.

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