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Dressing down up north: DRESS-lowering and /l/ allophony in a Scottish dialect

  • Sophie Holmes-Elliott (a1) and Jennifer Smith (a2)


This study reports on a sociophonetic investigation of dress-lowering in a rural dialect in northeast Scotland. Previous analyses have indicated that this change is ongoing in a number of varieties worldwide, propelled by a combination of linguistic constraints and favorable associations with Anglo urban Californian varieties. In this paper we examine whether these influences play out in a relic dialect previously resistant to more supralocal changes. Through an analysis of a range of acoustic correlates, we track the progress of this change across three generations of speakers. Analysis of the constraints suggests that in this variety the change is driven by internal pressures, where it is significantly constrained by phonetic environment, specifically, following laterals. Further analysis of this environment reveals increasing distinction on the F2-F1 spectrum, where /l/s have become lighter in onsets and darker in codas. Our analyses reveal that these changes may be viewed as complementary, as they share the same acoustic correlates, suggesting that system-internal pressures are the primary driving force of dress-lowering in this variety.

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