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Accommodation or political identity: Scottish members of the UK Parliament

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)341-363
JournalLanguage Variation and Change
Issue number3
Early online date24 Nov 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2017


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 ten 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 at UK Parliament. Rather, we suggest that the variation indexes political meaning, with a subset of individuals drawing on that indexicality in production.

    Research areas

  • sociophonetics, phonetics, sociolinguistics, linguistics, variation, Scottish English, politics, vowels, dialectology, political identity, politicians

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