Authors: Weilinghoff, Andreas J.
Title: Aitken’s law revised
Other Titles: The Scottish Vowel Length Rule in 21st century Scottish Standard English
Language (ISO): en
Abstract: This study has investigated the effects of the Scottish Vowel Length Rule (SVLR) and the Voicing Effect (VE) in 21st century spoken Standard Scottish English (SSE). It is the first study which has analyzed all the vowels of SSE in all possible contexts on a countrywide scale. Due to contradictive findings in previous studies, the first aim of the present investigation was to find out which vowels are affected by the SVLR / VE in 21st century spoken SSE (Research question 1) and in how far the vowel duration patterns are affected by regional, age- and gender-related variation (Research question 2). Furthermore, I also wanted to investigate in how far the SVLR / VE is influenced by prosodic factors (Research question 3). Following precise data selection and transcription criteria, I collected an up-to-date dataset that is balanced in terms of the speakers’ regional background, age and gender. The transcription format includes the most important levels of the prosodic hierarchy and it also accounts for all relevant prosodic factors. Regarding the first research question, the analysis could find consistent SVLR patterns in the vowels /u/, /i/, /e/, /o/ as well as in the diphthong /aɪ/. Aitken’s Law does, however, not operate in the short vowels /ɪ/, /ʌ/, /ɛ/ or in diphthong /ɔe/ and the patterns are very weak in the vowels /ɔ/ and /a/. While there are clear SVLR patterns, the present study could also find consistent VE effects in /i/, /e/, /o/ and /aɪ/, but an anti-Voicing effect in /ɛ/, /ɔ/, /ʌʊ/, /ɔe/ and, in particular, in the short monophthong /ʌ/. As for the second research question, the SVLR and VE patterns are only sporadically affected by sociolinguistic variables, which means that Aitken’s Law is relatively stable across different dialect regions, age groups and genders in 21st century SSE. In contrast to the relatively weak influence of the sociolinguistic variables, the patterns of Aitken’s Law and the VE are strongly and consistently influenced by prosodic factors (Research question 3). In particular, the variables stress, phrasal position and tempo have a significant influence on all vowels. Another general observation is that many vowels in SSE are shortened before nasal consonants.
Subject Headings: Aitken’s law
Vowel duration
Scottish Standard English
Voicing effect
Subject Headings (RSWK): Schottisch
Issue Date: 2022
Appears in Collections:Institut für Sprache, Literatur und Kultur

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