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Thursday, 19 December, 2002, 23:26 GMT
Glaswegian goes east
An Edinburgh professor reckons a new accent, dominated by Glaswegian, is emerging across the central belt, in Edinburgh and in the Borders.
Professor Charles Jones says in some areas, children's accents are now "not readily distinguishable".
Pronunciations previously confined to Glasgow are now being used by many others who have little or no associations with the city.
What's your view? Does a new accent exist with Glaswegian at its core? Do accents make a difference anyway? Does it matter if our regional dialects disappear altogether?
Here are some of your views.
I was born and raised on the Ayrshire coast at around the time when the "Glasgow Overspill" was occurring. Lots of new housing schemes, factories, etc. A lot of the weans I went to school with were Glaswegian and that accent became so much the norm that I was often subject to the comment - in my own town where I was born and raised for over 30 years - "you're no frae aroon here, ir ye?" I have no strong opinion either way but I think it'd be nice if different areas could retain their heritage just like Glasgow does. Ayrshire, after all, is the home of Burns. But perhaps it's a foregone conclusion that, in an age of swift travel and real time communication, the "dominant" accent of an area will spill over its original borders. After all, it took me over 20 years to realise that the Broons and Oor Wullie originated from the east coast - the accents got lost in the print.
As a former Glaswegian I have explained to my American friends who have had trouble understanding the accent, that Glaswegians talk in "shorthand".
What a load of rubbish. This professor didn't exactly get out much to sample the local dialects in my opinion. Some people in Edinburgh have the "rough" accent but mostly overall speak a much clearer version of English than what is spoken in Glasgow. Hence why the weegies try to call us English and snobs, etc.
I have a small hotel on San Francisco Bay, and put on a heavy Rab C Nesbitt-type speak to some of my guests and they think it's wonderful. As someone proud of my Glasgow roots (I have only been away six years) I never imagined the Glasgow accent would be such an advantage.
The whole point of speaking properly is so others can understand you. If you speak in a local dialect, incomprehensible to others, you are not going to get far in this 'global village'. Snobbery shouldn't come into it. I'm a Scot and five years at university with not Scots has taught me to pronounce properly or else be greeted with bemused looks. Accent and pronunciation are two different things. I don't want to lose my Scots accent, but to hell with dropping Hs and Ts and the like. And the Edinburgh accent is horrible, I've got one.
There is ample room for slack (i.e. use of dialect, something that includes dropping letters) around the BBC News English we are taught as a standard. Dictatorial imposition of standard English and the demeaning of people who drop their 't's is unnecessary. As long as communication occurs there's no harm - far from it - relish the diversity!
The good folk of Edinburgh speaking in a Glaswegian accent? I think the professor is probably mistaking Glaswegian for the native tongue of the greater spotted central belt ned.
Of course, I could be wrong and as Glasgow's Lord Provost seems quite flattered, perhaps he'd like to repatriate all these long lost souls to their wanna-be home, doing the rest of us a huge favour in the process?
Neil McKinlay, Scotland
I have lived in Edinburgh for my whole life (26 years). I believe that the Glaswegian accent has in no way spanned the central belt - Edinburgh has its own version of 'Scottish slang' referred to by Glaswegians as 'the Edinburgh twang'. I work in Glasgow and think it is a superb city, but I strongly disagree with the notion that 'Glaswegian is becoming the dominant accent of Central Scotland', especially in Edinburgh itself. There may be some mixing of the two accents in the towns between the two cities (probably more Glaswegian). However, the old Edinburgh 'twang' is here to stay!
I can't stand the way that having an accent would appear to mean you are ill-educated. Seems to me the only ones with a problem are those who don't have the patience to listen to an accent they are unused to. I think it is fantastic that Scotland has so many different accents in such a small area. Could it be that because people travel a lot more in the country that the "boundaries" for accents are overlapping?
Do you not think many people, young and old, use the informal language for "a laugh"? You only need to look to programmes such as Chewin' the Fat to see the comedic value of dropping the T's and speaking with standard catchphrases that are obviously "pure dead brilliant". I thought we were just laughing at ourselves but perhaps the joke is now on us if this language and accent is becoming the norm.
Having lived in England for a while I now notice when I return to Glasgow, or on the phone to relatives, that their accents seem overly strong. However, I have to say that I've not noticed the creep of weegie ever eastwards. On the contrary, from about south Stirling to west Livingston is only as far east as I've heard the weegie. East from then on it becomes the "ya ken whit a mean" and "didnae do that" instead of the familiar "know whit am sayin tae ya" and "dae u have a scooby whit I'm on about". But I hope the professor's right and then the entire east coast will eventually sound just like us!
This study seems like old news to me. Glottal stops are common throughout most parts of Scotland. The slow demise of the distinctive "wh" and "ch" sounds may be more advanced in Glasgow, but I'm not sure if that means Glasgow is influencing other places. The distinctive Glasgow intonation remains markedly different from anywhere on the east coast. The professor must have had a difficult task finding typically Edinburgh people - half the population seems to come from outside the city.
The examples given in the article don't make much of a distinction between dialect and pronunciation - if more Edinburghers are using phrases like "howzitgaun" that's more to do with exchanges in dialect rather than changes in accent. I'm sure there are some words and phrases traditionally regarded as "Edinburgh" that have made their way over to the west coast. And the glottal plosive (i.e. dropped 't') isn't peculiar to the Glaswegian accent, but a feature of many accents in the UK, so hardly an obvious indicator of the alleged spread of Glaswegianism. Incidentally, those who regard glottal plosives as "gutter talk" may be interested to know that the sound has its own character in the International Phonetic Alphabet, and therefore regarded by the International Phonetic Association as a feature of speech in its own right. It's only social conventions that label such things slovenly; I'd hoped that the idea that one had to talk like a BBC announcer in order to be thought articulate had long gone.
I think some people here are talking this a bit too seriously. After all, who cares. East, west, north and south Scottish accents are all different and will remain so. More important is the fact that whatever Scottish accent you speak with, it is passionately accepted from almost every other country in the world. Just be thankful you don't speak with an English or American accent.
This patter is no more Glaswegian than deep-fried Mars bars. Edinburgh folk and Leithers have been dropping their 't's for decades.
I'll tell you this by the way... the only reason the weegie accent is moving through to Edinburgh is that the Weegies are now starting to see sense and are moving through to the superior East Coast.
Well jings, crivens, help ma boab... if the weegie accent is escaping from the west then, to quote John Lawrie, "wu'r doom'd". The fact is, both the Glasgow and Edinburgh accents are horrible (although not as bad as south east England) and are nothing to be proud of. Placing "by the way" at the end of a sentence demonstrates a clear lack of communicative ability and a limited and feeble-minded imagination. At the end of the day, though, accents don't really matter as long as communication is achieved at a deeper than superficial level. Sadly, with most Scots, this is not generally the case.
Graeme Dobie, Edinburgh
Either this is very old news or I was really born a soap-dodger. The dropping of the letter T goes back at least 40 years in Edinburgh. Hence "The Wa'er ae Leith". If anything has changed it's that Scots as a whole have less of an inferiority complex now and don't feel they have to speak "proper" English as dispersed by the cognoscenti. Hence kids are more likely to get away with these variations than in the past.
I'm now living in Glasgow and visit Edinburgh every other weekend. I think the Edinburgh "neebor" accent is actually being mistaken as here for the "weegie" accent. They're quite different. However, when you go out pubbing or clubbing in Edinburgh the majority of people you meet either have an English or Australian accent, so go figure - ya dobber.
I have noticed since moving south two years ago that my accent has changed. While at university in Scotland everyone's accents seemed to become softer. People on the east coast don't have that generic west coast "twang" to their voices.
I come from Edinburgh and was educated there 40 -50 years ago and even then there were some people who "dropped" their Ts etc. This is nothing new and neither are some of these expressions like "howzitgaun". The important thing is that children should be corrected by parents in particular and by teachers for dropping their Ts. However, many children will always have two languages, one for their friends and one for home. There is nothing wrong with a dialect but sloppy, careless use of English should be corrected.
What a load of rubbish. The reason that it is perceived that Edinburgh folk are talking Glaswegian (or Weegie) is that children's gutter talk is no longer corrected by parents or schools. Glottal stops, dropped Ts and Hs - nothing to do with accent or dialect just bad diction - is all spoken by those who should know better. It seems to be some kind of inverted snobbery to talk in as rough a way as possible. Even the prime minister talks in this fashion and children's presenters on all channels are sometimes impossible to understand. The whole point of communication by speech is to make others aware of your thoughts. If they can't understand you then the exercise is pointless.
How awful the world would be if everyone spoke only in sanitised "proper" English. I don't know about anyone else, but I'm from a working class background but "want-to-be" middle class accents really get on my nerves.
Mary, to judge people who speak with their perfectly natural accents is typical class prejudice, whether it be "downwards" or "upwards". People by and large, speak with the accents that they have. My girlfriend speaks with a soft Invernessian accent and as a consequence has been labelled as "English" and "posh", usually by the "intelligent" and "clearly spoken" inhabitants of Glasgow. If you want to make Scotland a classless society then you don't start if of with by proclaiming "working class and proud of it". Think things through and take people as they are. Some hope.....
The only time we use a weegie accent is when we're making fun of it. The "Chewin' the Fat" boys captured it perfectly.
19 Dec 02 | Scotland
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