26 January 2011

Linguistics of Scots

I'm sitting in lecture right now, so I'll keep this short, but I just had to blog about this huge revelation that I had to share:

Back story: In Linguistics last semester (one of the most interesting classes I've had at Furman), Dr. Cox touched briefly on dialect/regional differences. I found that my West Virginian "accent" was ever-so-slightly different than many others' accents. Our professor accepted all phonetic spellings, as long as we could back them up, and was not nearly so interested in the "proper" pronunciation as he was in our ability to diagram what we were saying. Some of the differences included my identical pronunciation of the words "cot" and "caught" and my minute difference in the pronunciation of wh- question words like "which" and "why" and their counterparts without h's, "witch" and the letter y.

Now: Our lecture today is on Language in Scotland, and so far, we've covered everything from the origins of Scots and Gaelic to their usage today. Just now, we discussed the difference between Scottish English and the "Queen's English," and just a wee bit more of the world makes sense to me now: Scottish English influence includes pronouncing "caught" like "cot" rather than [cat] (phonetic) and pronouncing the slight h in wh- question words.

I have Scottish ancestors, and I live in West Virginia, where many Scots have settled in the mountains.


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