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Accommodation or political identity: Scottish members of the UK Parliament

  • Lauren Hall-Lew (a1), Ruth Friskney (a1) and James M. Scobbie (a2)

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.

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