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Shetland Scots as a new dialect: phonetic and phonological considerations1



The dialect of Scots spoken in the Shetland Islands has been variously described as a language shift variety, acquired when the islanders abandoned their native Norn for Scots from the sixteenth century onwards, or a continuation of the dialects brought to Shetland by Scottish immigrants in the same period. More recently, Millar (2008) discussed the origins of Shetland Scots in a theory of new-dialect formation (Trudgill 2004), which allows for a combination of earlier explanations. In this article, I give a systematic analysis of the phonetics and phonology of Early Shetland Scots in comparison to Norn and mainland Scots dialects. The Shetland Scots data are largely consistent with theoretical expectations, lending further support to the new-dialect reading of the dialect's diachronic development.



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