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Accommodation or political identity: Scottish members of the UK Parliament

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  24 November 2017

Lauren Hall-Lew
University of Edinburgh
Ruth Friskney
University of Edinburgh
James M. Scobbie
Queen Margaret University


Phonetic variation among Scottish members of the UK Parliament may be influenced by convergence to Southern English norms (Carr & Brulard, 2006) or political identity (e.g., Hall-Lew, Coppock, & Starr, 2010). Drawing on a year's worth of political speeches (2011–2012) from 10 Scottish members of the UK Parliament (MPs), we find no acoustic evidence for the adoption of a Southern English low vowel system; rather, we find that vowel height is significantly correlated with political party: Scottish Labour Party MPs produce a higher cat vowel (Johnston, 1997) than do Scottish National Party MPs. The results contradict claims that Scottish MPs acquire Anglo-English features while serving in the UK Parliament. Rather, we suggest that the variation indexes political meaning, with a subset of individuals drawing on that indexicality in production.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2017 

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