A Perceptual Study of Scottish Dialects
Tichenor MSc Dissertation 2012.pdf (3.624Mb)
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This study presents the first account of the perceptual dialectology of Scotland, following the methodological tradition of Preston (1989,1999). Previous published work in the tradition on Britain has focused on England (Montgomery 2010, Pearce 2009, Inoue 1996). My work shows that Scots have a distinct set of Scotland-specific perceptions of linguistic varieties, quite separate from what might be felt in other parts of Britain. I report on the results from a detailed questionnaire-based investigation of perceptual attitudes towards Scotland and Scots-English dialects among fifty-one respondents, ranging in age from 19 to 77. All of the respondents were born and raised in the Northeast town of Buckie and had not spent more than ten years living away from the area. The questionnaire consisted of a map-drawing task, short-answer questions regarding perceptions of Scots language and dialects in Scotland, and a scale section, in which respondents were given twelve local government regions across Scotland and asked to rate them on a seven-point scale regarding degree of difference, correctness, pleasantness, broadness, and Scottishness. The region most frequently identified and described in the most detail was - unsurprisingly - the area from which the respondents lived, the Northeast. More interestingly, overall, five distinct dialect regions were recognized through the map-drawing task. Northeast Doric and urban lowland Glaswegian were identified as both the broadest and the most Scottish-sounding dialect regions in Scotland, fitting with previously conducted research on Scots language (Macafee 1997, Aitken 1984). The regions settled by English speakers - the Highlands, particularly the Inverness region, and Edinburgh - were perceived as the most correct and as the most pleasant, supporting the sociocultural dominance of English language over the last 300 years in Scotland. As for qualitative perceptions of Scots language, whereas many respondents identified Scots as the static, poetic language of Burns, the Northeast Scots dialect, Doric, is seen as very much alive in Scotland according to the respondents from Buckie. Remarkably, the questionnaire did not reveal significant age and gender differences among the three age groups identified: young adult (19-39), middle-age adult (40-59), older adult (60-77).