Scottish accent is slowly dying out as young Scots drop their 'R's, say researchers

Academics used ultrasound to determine the speech patterns in young Scots

Siobhan Fenton@SiobhanFenton
Sunday 19 July 2015 14:23
Researchers say that the Scottish accent is slowly on its way out
Researchers say that the Scottish accent is slowly on its way out

The Scottish accent is dying out as people drop the strong rolling ‘R’s from their speech.

Linguistic experts have discovered that hard ‘R’s are being used less among young Scots. The rhotic consonants are a distinctive part of the Scottish accent.

According to The Sunday Times, academics from Queen Margaret University in Edinburgh and Glasgow University used ultrasound on young Scots people to monitor how their mouths move during speech. They found that, like older generations, they still utter ‘R’ sounds but that they had weakened to such a point that they are barely audible.

Sociolinguist at Queen Margaret University, Eleanor Lawson, told The Sunday Times: “What we found is that Scottish speakers are delaying their ‘r’ gesture, so it’s happening in silence afterwards.

“They’re not losing it completely – they’re still producing it. You just can’t hear it properly.”

Michael Hance, director of the Scots Language Centre, said that he thinks the change could be due to the prevalence of received pronunciation, or 'Queen's English', including in BBC Scotland's broadcasts. He criticised the BBC's use of English accented speakers for broadcasts as well as: "this long tradition of sending [Scottish] people off for elocution lessons to soften their accents."

A 2013 study by ITV found that Scottish people are the more likely to report being discriminated against because of their accents than people from any other region in the UK. 29 per cent of Scots feel they have been discriminated against in a social situation because of their speech. 24 per cent say they this has happened whilst they have been served in a shop or restaurant.

However, despite this, Scottish accents are consistently voted the sexiest and the friendliest by other Britons. In a poll earlier this year, Scottish accents were named the second sexiest accents in the UK. 15% of Britons find Scottish accents sexy, second only to the Northern Irish brogue which 17% of people find sexy.

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