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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.

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Journal of the International Phonetic Association
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  • EISSN: 1475-3502
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