Accents “resurgent in Scotland”

“The country where accents are genuinely resurgent is Scotland, where they have political clout”

Flattening in England, resurgent in Scotland: accents still shape our island life | Ian Jack

Accents might be seen as the failure of speech to match some imaginary norm. What’s odd in Glasgow seems ordinary in Essex, and vice versa; and what was ordinary yesterday seems extraordinary now. In Ma’am Darling, Craig Brown’s recently published (and very entertaining) biographical study of Princess Margaret, the author devotes a chapter to the princess’s stilted encounter in 1981 with Roy Plomley on Desert Island Discs.

Comments from Facebook:

Hmm, like a superficially well written student essay that includes no references to any actual scholarship or real data (the kind written by fairly smart students who don’t bother doing any actual work)… Maybe that’s the definition of journalism?

In England dialects are dying. In Scotland the Scottish Parliament has greatly damaged Scotland’s cultural cringe. Scots has not expanded its speaker base, but it is more able to influence the sound pattern of English speakers because except among the radical upper middle class (see Reporting Jockland presenters, Bearsden etc) rhe ‘telephone voice’ is now seen almost universally as derisory.

Comments form the Guardian site:

I think the only accent that’s harder to understand for me than Scottish is Indian. I can make heads nor tails of either.

Oh I don’t know. I find the local dialect and slang here in Glasgow grating and rather vulgar. A person should strive to speak well. Language after all is designed as a tool of communication and if we subvert that tool then communication and comprehension fail. And it’s such an easy thing to do – to speak well as a master of our language. And to write well of course. I avoid those with guttural ways of speaking.
It is not so much that I judge these people as somehow lesser than me it’s just that I prefer the clarity of beautifully formed English spoken with clarity and confidence. But hey! The vulgar tend to flock together and the sophisticated, like me, are a nation to themselves.

I’m sure devolution has helped to ’empower’ not just Scottish accents (plural) but also the Scots words that Ian says he never uses himself – ‘bairn’ and so on – but it didn’t do that on its own. I think the homegrown fiction and films and all sorts in recent decades have also changed the whole scene since Ian Jack and I were children.

Nobody in the central belt or big population centres speaks “Scots”. They speak English. Maybe it was a different language once , but that’s going back a bit. The idea that Scotch folk speak their own language is false. It’s no more a language than Yorkshire is. Some vowels, some archaisms, some slang. So what?

It’s astonishing how the mention that Scots is a language with dialects of its own , or the sight of a Gaelic sign, invokes so much rage. It’s a indicator, I suppose, of just how powerful and dangerous an agent for change language can be.

I can’t be doing with inward looking “I speak Scotch” nationalism. You speak English. That is the crux of the matter, innit. Lol.

Thing is, I always have to put the sub-titles on when a Scottish actor speaks in a drama, or Scottish people interviewed on the news. I can’t understand a word.

And so on….

Comments are closed.