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‘New’ Scottish Gaelic speakers in Glasgow: A phonetic study of language revitalisation

  • Claire Nance (a1)
Abstract

This article analyses phonetic variation among young people who have learned a minority language in immersion schooling as part of revitalisation measures. Such speakers are increasingly referred to as ‘new speakers’ in an expanding body of literature. The variable phonetic features analysed are vowels, laterals, and intonation in the speech of new Gaelic speakers from Glasgow and the Isle of Lewis. Results support previous work suggesting that new speakers will sound different from ‘traditional speakers’. These results are discussed in terms of language contact, modes of acquisition in revitalisation situations, and the differing perceptions and ideologies surrounding how new speakers use Gaelic. The data also necessitate an examination of some of the assumptions in sociolinguistic models of change and their applicability to contexts of rapid social evolution. (New speakers, language revitalisation, minority languages, Scottish Gaelic, laterals, vowels, intonation)*

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