Skip to main content Accessibility help

Ejectives in Scottish English: A social perspective

  • Owen McCarthy (a1) and Jane Stuart-Smith (a2)


This paper presents the results of an analysis of the realization of word-final /k/ in a sample of read and casual speech by 28 female pupils from a single-sex Glaswegian high school. Girls differed in age, socioeconomic background, and ethnicity. Ejectives were the most usual variant for /k/ in both speech styles, occurring in the speech of every pupil in our sample. Our narrow auditory analysis revealed a continuum of ejective production, from weak to intense stops. Results from multinomial logistic regression show that ejective production is promoted by phonetic, linguistic and interactional factors: ejectives were used more in read speech, when /k/ occurred in the /-ŋk/ cluster (e.g. tank), and when the relevant word was either at the end of a clause or sentence, or in turn-final position. At the same time, significant interactions between style, and position in turn, and the social factors of age and ethnicity, show that the use of ejectives by these girls is subject to a fine degree of sociolinguistic control, alongside interactional factors. Finally, cautious comparison of these data with recordings made in 1997 suggests that these results may also reflect a sound change in progress, given the very substantial real-time increase in ejective realizations of /k/ in Glasgow over the past fourteen years.



Hide All
Alam, Farhana & Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2011. Identity and ethnicity in /t/ in Glasgow-Pakistani high-school girls. In Lee, Wai-Sum & Zee, Eric (eds.), 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XVII), Hong Kong, 216219.
Anderson, Anne, Bader, Miles, Bard, Ellen, Boyle, Elizabeth, Doherty, Gwyneth, Garrod, Simon, Isard, Stephen, Kowtko, Jacqueline, McAllister, Jan, Miller, Jim, Sotillo, Catherine, Thompson, Henry & Weinhart, Regina. 1991. The HCRC Map Task Corpus. Language and Speech 34, 351366.
Ashby, Michael & Maidment, John. 2005. Introducing phonetic science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David. 2013. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [computer program], Version 5.3.51. (retrieved 30 May 2013).
Catford, J. C. 1939. On the classification of stop consonants. Le Maître phonétique (3rd series) 65, 25.
Catford, J. C. 1977. Fundamental problems in phonetics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.
Chirrey, Deborah. 1999. Edinburgh: Descriptive material. In Foulkes & Docherty (eds.), 223–229.
Fallon, Paul D. 2002. The synchronic and diachronic phonology of ejectives. London: Routledge.
Field, Andy. 2009. Discovering statistics using SPSS, 3rd edn.London: Sage.
Foulkes, Paul & Docherty, Gerard J. (eds.). 1999. Urban voices: Accent studies in the British Isles. London: Arnold.
Gordeeva, Olga B. & Scobbie, James M.. 2011. Laryngeal variation in the Scottish English voice contrast: Glottalisation, ejectivisation and aspiration. In Scobbie, James M, Mennen, Ineke & Watson, Jocelynne (eds.), CASL Research Centre Working Paper, WP-19. Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.
Gordeeva, Olga B. & Scobbie, James M.. 2013. A phonetically versatile contrast: Pulmonic and glottalic voicelessness in Scottish English obstruents and voice quality. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 43 (3), 249271.
Grawunder, Sven, Simpson, Adrian P. & Khalilov, Madzhid. 2010. Phonetic characteristics of ejectives – samples from Caucasian languages. In Fuchs, Susanne, Toda, Martine & Marzena, Żygis (eds.), Turbulent sounds: An interdisciplinary guide, 209244. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter.
Greenberg, Joseph H. 1970. Some generalizations concerning glottalic consonants especially implosives. International Journal of American Linguistics 36, 123140.
Ham, SooYoun. 2007. Tsilhqut'in ejectives. 2007 Annual Conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association, University of Victoria.
Hayward, Katrina. 2000. Experimental phonetics. London: Longman.
Javkin, Hector. 1977. Towards a phonetic explanation for universal preferences in implosives and ejectives. 3rd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, vol. 3, 557565.
Jones, Daniel. 1956. An outline of English phonetics, 8th edn.Cambridge: W. Heffer & Sons.
Kingston, John. 1985. The phonetics and phonology of the timing of oral and glottal events. Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Berkeley.
Labov, William. 1972. Sociolinguistic patterns. Oxford: Blackwell.
Labov, William. 1994. Principles of linguistic change, vol. I: Internal factors. Oxford & Malden, MA: Blackwell.
Ladefoged, Peter. 1973. The features of the larynx. Journal of Phonetics 1, 7383.
Ladefoged, Peter. 1980. What are linguistic sounds made of? Language 56, 485502.
Ladefoged, Peter. 1993. A course in phonetics, 3rd edn.Fort Worth, TX: Harcourt Brace.
Ladefoged, Peter. 2001. Vowels and consonants: An introduction to the sounds of language. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ladefoged, Peter & Johnson, Keith. 2011. A course in phonetics. Boston, MA: Wadsworth Publishing.
Ladefoged, Peter & Maddieson, Ian. 1996. The sounds of the world's languages. Oxford: Basil Blackwell.
Lambert, Kirsten, Alam, Farhana & Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2007. Investigating British Asian accents: Studies from Glasgow. In Trouvain, Jürgen & Barry, William J. (eds.), 16th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XVI), Saarbrücken, 15091511.
Lass, Roger. 1984. Phonology: An introduction to basic concepts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lawson, Eleanor, Scobbie, James M. & Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2011. The social stratification of tongue shape for postvocalic /r/ in Scottish English. Journal of Sociolinguistics 15 (2), 256268.
Lindau, Mona. 1984. Phonetic differences in glottalic consonants. Journal of Phonetics 12, 147155.
Local, John. 2003. Variable domains and variable relevance: Interpreting phonetic exponents. Journal of Phonetics 31 (3–4), 321339.
Macafee, Caroline. 1983. Varieties of English around the world: Glasgow. Amsterdam: John Benjamin.
MacMahon, Michael K. C. 2006. English phonetics. In Aarts, Bas & McMahon, April (eds.), The handbook of English linguistics, 359381. Oxford: Blackwell.
Maddieson, Ian. 1984. Glottalic and laryngealized consonants: Patterns of sounds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Ogden, Richard. 2009. An introduction to English phonetics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Ohala, John J. 1997. Emergent stops. 4th Seoul International Conference on Linguistics (SICOL), Seoul, 8491. Seoul: Linguistic Society of Korea.
Roach, Peter J. 2009. English phonetics and phonology glossary: A little encyclopaedia of phonetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Scobbie, James M., Gordeeva, Olga B. & Matthews, Benjamin. 2006. Acquisition of Scottish English phonology: An overview (QMUC Speech Science Research Centre Working Papers). Edinburgh: Queen Margaret University.
Shorrocks, Graham. 1988. Glottalization and gemination in an English urban dialect. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 33 (1), 5964.
Shuken, Cynthia. 1984. [ʔ], [h] and parametric phonetics. In Higgs, Jo-Ann W. & Thelwall, Robin (eds.), Topics in linguistic phonetics in honour of E. T. Uldall (Occasional Papers in Linguistics and Language Learning 9), 111139. Coleraine: New University of Ulster.
Simpson, Adrian P. 2007. Acoustic and auditory correlates of non-pulmonic sound production in German. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37 (2), 173182.
Simpson, Adrian P. 2009. The acoustic and articulatory complexity of epiphenomenal non-pulmonic sound production in German. 31. Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft für Sprachwissenschaft, Osnabrück, 161.
Simpson, Adrian P. In press. Ejectives in English and German – linguistic, sociophonetic, interactional, epiphenomenal? In Celata, Chiara & Calmai, Silvia (eds.), Advances in sociophonetics. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Stuart-Smith, Jane. 1999a. Glasgow: Accent and voice quality. In Foulkes & Docherty (eds.), 201–222.
Stuart-Smith, Jane. 1999b. Glottals past and present: A study of T-glottalling in Glaswegian. Leeds Studies in English 30, 181204.
Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2003. The phonology of modern urban Scots. In Corbett, John, McClure, J. Derrick & Stuart-Smith, Jane (eds.), The Edinburgh companion to Scots, 110137. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
Stuart-Smith, Jane, Timmins, Claire & Alam, Farhana. 2011. Hybridity and ethnic accents: A sociophonetic analysis of ‘Glaswasian’. In Gregersen, Frans, Parrott, Jeffrey & Quist, Pia (eds.), Language variation – European perspectives III, 4357. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Stuart-Smith, Jane, Timmins, Claire & Tweedie, Fiona. 2007. Talkin’ Jockney: Accent change in Glaswegian. Journal of Sociolinguistics 11, 221261.
Swanton, John R. 1911. Haida. In Boas, Franz (ed.), Handbook of American Indian languages, Part 1 (Bureau of American Ethnology Bulletin 40), 205282. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office.
Tagliamonte, Sali & Hudson, Rachel. 1999. Be like et al. beyond America: The quotative system in British and Canadian youth. Journal of Sociolinguistics 3 (2), 147172.
Timmins, Claire, Tweedie, Fiona & Stuart-Smith, Jane. 2004. Accent change in Glaswegian (1997 corpus): Results for consonant variables (The Glasgow Speech Project). Glasgow & Edinburgh: Department of English Language, University of Glasgow & Department of Statistics, University of Edinburgh.
Vicenik, Chad. 2010. An acoustic study of Georgian stop consonants. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 40, 5992.
Warner, Natasha. 1996. Acoustic characteristics of ejectives in Ingush. International Conference on Spoken Language Processing, Philadelphia, PA, 15251528.
Warner, Natasha. 2011. Methods for studying spontaneous speech. In Cohn, Abby, Fougeron, Cécile & Huffman, Marie (eds.), The Oxford handbook of Laboratory Phonology, 621633. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Wells, John C. 1982. Accents of English, vol. I. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wright, Richard, Hargus, Sharon & Davis, Katharine. 2002. On the categorization of ejectives: Data from Witsuwit'en. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 32, 4377.

Ejectives in Scottish English: A social perspective

  • Owen McCarthy (a1) and Jane Stuart-Smith (a2)


Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed