Friday, 24 July 2015

From the press

Public Radio International has provided us with this breaking news:

"It looks like the distinctive, almost-rolling "R" may be dissapearing [sic] from the Scottish accent.

Eleanor Lawson is a sociolinguist at the University of Glasgow and Queen Margaret University (QMU) in Edinburgh and has conducted research on the phenomenon.
In words like "car," "cart," and "first," speakers are no longer using the typical "rhotic r" but pronouncing the word more like a British or Anglican English speaker."
I wonder what the Anglican Church has to do with it.

BTW: The two journalists (or whatever they're called) seem to have a cavalier attitude towards spelling.


  1. Too many bishops among their informants? I think Lawson said Anglo-English in the podcast interview, but Anglican certainly occurs in the text on the "World in Words" page! The interesting part for me was the bunched-tongue Scottish examples which are approximants not trills or fricatives, which is also far more common in England than the RP apical types. I'm sure this will turn out to be uvular.

    1. Your're right, Sidney. Ms Lawson says fairly at the beginning of the interview: "So I don't think this is a case of Anglicisation [...]" and then later on "In Anglo-English /r/ began to disappear from about 1700 [...]". What I would like to see is the pharyngeal offglide (or "pharyngealised vowel" to use her term) of this Scottish arr in words like car, cart or first in an MRI film - they have the technical gadgets /ʊp/ there.

    2. Yes indeed Petr. They're using ultrasound apparently. I have X-ray motion films of uvular r in South Swedish and most uvular consonants in Greenlandic Inuit, but not English. They all have uvular constrictions in the upper pharynx. The uvula itself is not a good place for these consonants, it would get in the way for stops and fricatives as there are open passages on either side.