Германские языки | Филологический аспект №8 (16) Август, 2016


Дата публикации 23.08.2016

The sociolinguistic situation in Scotland: bilingualism and diglossia

Иванченко Наталья Яковлевна
Санкт-Петербургский государственный университет (СПбГУ), Санкт-Петербург, Россия

Аннотация: В Шотландии 2 языка коренного населения — язык скотс и шотландский гэльский. По данным переписи населения 2011 года, порядка 30% населения Шотландии является носителями языка скотс или точнее носителями одного из диалектов скотс, и около 1,2% населения являются носителями гэльского. Однако в языковом сознании шотландского общества английский, не являющийся родным для многих его членов, по-прежнему занимает место престижного книжного языка. В данной статье анализируется социолингвистическая ситуация в современной Шотландии, и в частности проблемы двуязычия и диглоссии в контексте взаимоотношений двух близкородственных языков.
Ключевые слова: социолингвистическая ситуация, лингвистический континуум, диглоссия, двуязычие, переключение кодов

Социолингвистическая ситуация в Шотландии: двуязычие и диглоссия

Ivanchenko Natalia Yakovlevna
Saint-Petersburg State University (SPSU), St. Petersburg, Russia

Abstract: There are two indigenous languages in Scotland — the Scots language and Scottish Gaelic. According to the 2011 Census (Scotland), about 30% of the population speak Scots, or one of the dialects of Scots, and about 1.2% of the population are Gaelic speakers. In the linguistic consciousness of Scottish society, however, English, which is not the first language to many of its members, still retains the status of a language of power and prestige. This paper explores the sociolinguistic situation in modern Scotland. Specifically it looks at such issues as bilingualism and diglossia within the context of two closely related languages.
Keywords: sociolinguistic situation, linguistic continuum, dyglossia, bilingualism, codeswitching

1. Introduction

The sociolinguistic situation in Scotland is determined by bilingualism and diglossia. The population of Scotland comprise three main, overlapping language communities that use coexisting language varieties in their respective communicative contexts depending on the social situation and other extralinguistic factors: 1) those whose first language is Scottish English, or Educated Scottish Standard English; 2) those whose first language, and often the primary language of everyday communication, is Scots, though they may have to switch to English in formal contexts; and 3) about 1.2 % of Scottish population consider Scottish Gaelic as their mother tongue (9).

It is noteworthy that the majority of the population of modern Scotland are effectively bilingual; with about 99% of Scotland-born claiming native proficiency in English. There are no reliable data on how many people born in Scotland speak only English, i.e. they cannot speak neither Scottish Gaelic, nor Scots. In other words, the question of Scottish bilingual communities’ membership, and especially the number of the Scots language speakers require clarification.

2. The Scots language: historical background

Scots is a West Germanic language closely related to English, which can be traced back to the Anglo-Saxon settlers who came to North-East England and South-East Scotland around the 6th century (7). Scots developed out of the Northumbrian dialect while Modern English came from the West Mercian, so they have a large set of shared features. Scots also has a vast, very distinct vocabulary, as well as unique grammatical rules. In the 12th century the dialect called at the time Inglis or Inglishebecame dominant in the Kingdom of Scotland, gradually replacing Gaelic. Up until the 15th century, it was not dissimilar to the language spoken in northern England; by the 16th century, however, it had become so different that it began to be referred to as Scottis or Scots. After the Union of Crowns in 1606, and especially after the Act of Union in 1707, written Scots was ‘swept off its feet’ by the Standard English of southern England. For a while, written English and spoken Scottis co-existed in a form of bilingualism. Alas, Scots was not able to compete with the more powerful sister language: inevitably, English had become the language of state used in public life. By the end of the 18th century, Scots had been relegated to a position of a vernacular. By the middle of the 20th century, it had been stigmatised as a non-standard form of English spoken by the lower classes. The situation began to change only in the 1970s.

1. Relation to English

Two sister languages — Scots and English — have been co-existing in Scotland for five centuries. This created a linguistic continuum situation with broad Scots at one pole and Standard Scottish English at the other with a number of transitional types along the continuum. In fact, Standard Scottish English itself was developed in the late 18th and early 19th centuries resulting from language contact between Scots and Standard English of southern England. The necessity of frequent codeswitching led to various phonological and lexico-grammatical Scots interference features in English used in Scotland. Standard Scottish English vocabulary was also enriched at the expense of borrowings from Scottish Gaelic.

There is an opinion among researchers that close kinship with English may have been one of the reasons for the Scots language survival. As Billy Kay points out “the closeness and similarity of Scots to English… has been a source of weakness and a potential source of strength” (1, p. 151). No doubt, this similarity led to language interference as well as to the loss of Scots’ linguistic integrity. However, this close relation might have been a blessing in disguise, since Scots and English structural similarity allowed easy codeswitching that can happen not only at the end of a phrase or a clause boundary but even at the level of the individual word or sound (6).

Anyway, the fact remains — modern Scots may be difficult to differentiate from English, and even more from Scottish English. Nonetheless, there is every reason to argue that Scots and its dialects do not belong to the phenomena of variability of the English language, since, historically, they arose as a result of development and mixing of different languages: Celtic (Erse), North Germanic (Norn), West Germanic (English). Features of these languages still can be found in Scots dialects. Moreover, there are many loanwords borrowed from Scandinavian languages, French, Gaelic, Latin, Dutch and Flemish in Scots, which are not to be found in Standard British English varieties, as well as some essential differences in phonology and grammar.

The Scots at the broad end of the continuum is phonologically, grammatically, lexically and idiomatically quite different from English. However, for many Scots, particularly in urban areas, their language might contain a mixture of English with the remains of a Scots grammatical structure. All this leads to a denigration of the status of Scots and the frequent accusation that the language is merely an inferior version of English. Even linguists do not all agree about whether Scots is a dialect or a close sister language of English. The disagreement among linguists is mainly due to the fact that what is presented as or claimed to be Scots is so variable. Unfortunately, in Scotland, spoken dialects of Scots are often termed ‘English’ while their historical origin shows that they are not this, though admittedly influenced by English. Moreover, there is no official standardised orthography and many Scots are used to peppering their Scottish English speech with Scots words and some Scots structures in informal situations. Nonetheless, if Scots were in a healthy state and its development uncurtailed over the last couple of centuries, then nobody would even be asking the question about whether it is a distinct language or not: it is more a question of political status.

1. How many Scots speak the Scots language

The most perplexing question, however, is not about the linguistic status of Scots, but about the number of Scots-speakers in Scotland and their perception of it.

According to the 2010 study on public attitudes towards the Scots language in Scotland commissioned by the Scottish Government, the majority of Scotland’s adult population (85%) speak Scots, with 43% claiming to do so ‘fairly often/a lot’. The 2011 census (Scotland), however, gives quite a different picture with 1,541,693 people claiming some knowledge of Scots, i.e. approximately 30% of the population, and only up to 57,000 people using it at home (8). What accounts for such inconsistencies?

Firstly, it is not an easy task to gather statistics for Scots because many respondents are not quite sure how to respond to the central question — ‘Do you speak Scots?’ They have been conditioned through centuries of education and English domination to believe their language is inferior to English, and is some kind of slang/ corruption of English, despite it having existed for hundreds of years with a rich corpus of literature. Secondly, all the Scots-speakers are bilingual and codeswitching is commonplace. According to the General Register Office (GRO), there is not yet sufficient linguistic self-awareness among the general public in Scotland to record statistics accurately. A 2010 Scottish Government study of “public attitudes towards the Scots language” found that 64% of respondents “don’t really think of Scots as a language.” (8)

However, some data are available from a 1996 trial survey from the GRO which suggested an estimated 1.5 million speakers of Scots. In another 1995 research study conducted by the University of Aberdeen Scots Leid Quorum a number of 2.7 million speakers was suggested. The findings of the Aberdeen University research evidently results from an additional clause in the question ’Do you speak Scots?’ when respondents were given a prompt of ‘…or a dialect of Scots such as Border, etc.’ (5, p. 5).

Scots-language activists express doubts concerning validity of the 2011 Census data regarding Scots. Thus, one of the Scottish poets writing in Scots — Liz Niven — believes that Scots is “the first language of millions of Scottish people” (3). According to Robert Millar, “speakers of the Scots dialects make up the majority of the population of the country” (4. p. 2). Caroline Macafee, however, believes that despite ‘the many validity issues,’ the results of the Census ‘appear reliable,’ though she admits that ‘the patterns in the data are more to be relied upon than the absolute figures’ (2, p. 4). Undoubtedly, the question of how accurate these figures are is open to debate, as well deeper analyses of the data are still to be done.

Список литературы

1. Kay, Billy. Scots: the mither tongue. Edinburgh: Mainstream Publishing, 1993. — 224 pp.
2. Macafee, Caroline. Scots in the Census: validity and reliability. [Электронный ресурс] — 2016. — 25 pp. — Режим доступа: http://www.scotslanguage.com/articles/view/id/4635 (Дата обращения: 16 августа 2016 г.)
3. Making connections to the Scots language through the Language of Langholm. — 2007. — 22 pp. [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа: http://media.scotslanguage.com/library/document/MakingConnectionsScotsLanguage.pdf (Дата обращение: 20 августа 2016 г.)
4. Millar, Robert McColl. Dislocation: is it presently possible to envisage an economically based Language Policy for Scots in Scotland. [Электронный ресурс] // Academia.edu — 2008 — 20 pp. — Режим доступа https://aberdeen.academia.edu/MillarRobertMcColl (Дата обращения: 11 июля 2016 г.)
5. The Scots Language in education in Scotland. Leeuwarden: Mercator-Education, 2002. — 40 pp.
6. Swann, Joan. Style shifting, codeswitching // English: history, diversity and change ed. by D. Graddol, D. Leith and J. Swann. London: Routledge, 1996. — Pp. 301-337.
7. Unger, Johann W. A Keek at Scots Lang Syne: A brief overview of the historical development of the Scots language // Vienna English Working Papers — Vol. 17 — No. 1. — 2008. — Pp. 91-101.
8. Scottish Government. Public Attitudes Towards the Scots Language Survey [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа: http://www.gov.scot/Resource/Doc/298037/0092859.pdf (Дата обращения: 16 августа 2016 г.)
9. ‘Statistical Bulletin: 2011 Census: Key Results on Population, Ethnicity, Identity, Language, Religion, Health, Housing and Accommodation in Scotland — Release 2A’ (2013), ‘Scotland’s Census’, National Records of Scotland [Электронный ресурс] — Режим доступа: http://www.scotlandscensus.gov.uk/documents/censusresults/release2a/StatsBulletin2A.pdf (Дата обращения: 16 августа 2016 г.)

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