Change search
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link
The Vowel System of a Shetland Accent of Scottish Standard English: A segmental analysis
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of English.
2004 (English)Doctoral thesis, monograph (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This study presents a comprehensive description of the stressed vowel system of the local accent of Scottish Standard English spoken in Lerwick, Shetland. A judgement sample of eleven informants was obtained through a network model. The methods employed are auditory transcription and classical phonemic analysis, and the results are accounted for in the framework of Accents of English (Wells 1982).

A wide range of elicitation material was constructed and used in the fieldwork, including a dialectological questionnaire, flash cards, questionnaires on rhyming, various word lists, minimal pairs tests and a commutation test. A review is presented of previous research on Shetland speech, the language situation in Shetland and Lowland Scotland, and previous accounts of the vowel system of Shetland dialect, the local Scots dialect.

The overall vowel system of the Lerwick accent displays 16 phonemes, three of which are marginal or variable. Three major realisational processes are identified (the Scottish Vowel Length Rule (SVLR), Vowel Softening and Pre-Voice Lengthening), and examined in relation to various issues including consonant clusters and morphology. A number of phonemic contrasts of special interest are examined. The contrast between TRAP /a/ and PALM /ɑ/is subject to contextual restrictions linked to the dichotomy between Soft and Hard contexts as defined by the process of Vowel Softening. The contrast is examined in polysyllabic words and in relation to final and intervocalic consonant clusters. The tendency for LOT /ɒ/ and THOUGHT /ɔ / to contrast is linked to the Soft/Hard dichotomy and is subject to inter- and intra-speaker variation. There are no signs of a contrast between FOOT and GOOSE, or of contrastive front rounded vowels around [ø] or of contrastive long /iːuː/. No evidence was found of additional contrastive front vowels (e.g. bait /E/) or of additional length contrasts (e.g. leek = leak). The vowel inventories in several positions are considered separately (open syllables, pre-/d/, pre-/n/, pre-/l/). Various matters concerning contrastive vowels before /r/ are examined. There is no contrast between TRAP and START. The vowels /ɔ / and /o/ are distributed through the lexicon as predicted by Wells (1982). Function words of the SQUARE set display a separate vowel, which hints at a phonemic split. Three central members /ɪɛʌ/ and one marginal member /¨ɛ / are found within Wells’s NURSE set. Finally, it is investigated whether the distribution of [ʌi] and [aˑe] in PRICE words is indicative of a phonemic split. The results show that the two variants are in complementary distribution as predicted by the SVLR, except in VCV words with a C that would trigger short [ʌ i] in VC words and with no morpheme boundary after C (e.g. spider). For such contexts, a model based on statistical trends is applied.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Engelska institutionen , 2004. , 436 p.
Keyword [en]
Lerwick, Shetland, Shetland dialect, Scottish Standard English, Accents of English, Vowel systems, Subsystems, The Scottish Vowel Length Rule, Vowel softening
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-60ISBN: 91-628-5764-9OAI: diva2:195911
Public defence
2004-03-20, hörsal 12, hus F, Universitetsvägen 10, Stockholm, 10:00
Available from: 2004-03-01 Created: 2004-03-01Bibliographically approved

Open Access in DiVA

No full text

By organisation
Department of English

Search outside of DiVA

GoogleGoogle Scholar
The number of downloads is the sum of all downloads of full texts. It may include eg previous versions that are now no longer available

Total: 244 hits
ReferencesLink to record
Permanent link

Direct link