14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

A Sociophonetic Investigation of the 'Scottish' Consonants (/x/ and /ʍ/) in the Speech of Glaswegian Children

Eleanor Lawson, Jane Stuart-Smith

Department of English Language, University of Glasgow, UK

Glaswegian, like other forms of Scottish English, is generally regarded as having two extra consonant sounds, /x/ in e.g. loch vs lock, and /ʍ/ in e.g. whine vs wine. It has been recently observed that /x/ and /ʍ/ tend to be replaced by /k/ and /w/, particularly by younger speakers. This paper considers the evidence for the loss of /x/ and /ʍ/ in the speech of 16 Glaswegian children, using auditory and acoustic analysis. In particular, we investigate the extent to which the Scottish consonants are simply being replaced by variants of /k/ and /ʍ/. Auditory analysis, confirmed by acoustic analysis, of the sounds in read wordlists and conversations suggests that Glaswegian children may indeed be losing the Scottish consonants. However our analysis also shows that the process of change seems more complex than previous accounts suggest, which may have implications for understanding the mechanism of sound change in general.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Lawson, Eleanor / Stuart-Smith, Jane (1999): "A sociophonetic investigation of the 'scottish' consonants (/x/ and /ʍ/) in the speech of Glaswegian children", In ICPhS-14, 2541-2544.