Highland English - Phonology


  • The more distinctive varieties of Highland English show the influence of Gaelic most clearly in pronunciation, but also in grammar. For example, voiceless stops /p/ /t/ /k/ are realised with preaspiration, that is as, and or, whereas voiced consonants tend to be de-voiced. Examples; that "whatever" becomes pronounced as "whateffer" and the English "j" as in "just" sound is often turned into a "tch" sound e.g. "chust". English /z/ may be realised as, giving "chisas" ("Jesus"). Some speakers insert a "sh" sound in English "rst" clusters, so that Eng. "first" gives "firsht". Lack of tolerance of English may mean its realisation as, as in ("Swansea").
  • Similarly, the svarabhakti ("helping vowel") that is used in some consonant combinations in Gaelic and Scots is sometimes used, so that "film" may pronounced "fillum".
  • Many older speakers employ a very distinctive affirmative or backchannel item taken from Scottish Gaelic which involves an ingress of breath with clearly audible friction and whose function to indicate agreement with what a speaker has just said or is saying or to indicate continuing agreement or comprehension. This phenomenon has been termed by some "the Gaelic Gasp". This linguistic feature is not found in the other Gaelic languages (Irish and Manx), but is present in some Scandinavian languages.
  • Lack of the wine–whine merger.
  • H-dropping, not generally found in Scots or Scottish English dialects, has been reported to be a standard speech feature in the Black Isle, near Inverness.

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