Shetland Scots

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Not to be confused with the Norn language.

Shetlandic,[1] usually referred to as (auld or braid) Shetland[2] by native speakers, and referred to as Modern Shetlandic Scots (MSS) by linguists, is spoken in Shetland, to the north of mainland Scotland and is, like Orcadian, a dialect of Insular Scots. It is derived from the Scots dialects brought to Shetland from the end of the fifteenth century by Lowland Scots, mainly from Fife and Lothian,[3] with a degree of Scandinavian influence from the Norn language, which was spoken on the islands until the late 18th century.[4]

Consequently Shetlandic contains many words of Norn origin. Most of them, if they are not place-names, refer to the seasons, the weather, plants, animals, places, food, materials, tools, colours (especially of sheep or horses), moods and whims or 'unbalanced states of mind'.[5]

Like Doric in North East Scotland, Shetlandic retains a high degree of autonomy due to geography and isolation from southern dialects. It has a large amount of unique vocabulary but as there are no standard criteria for distinguishing languages from dialects, whether or not Shetlandic is a separate language from Scots is much debated.[6]

Phonology[edit]

"Shetland dialect speakers generally have a rather slow delivery, pitched low and with a somewhat level intonation".[7]

Consonants[edit]

By and large, consonants are pronounced much as in other Modern Scots varieties. Exceptions are: The dental fricatives /ð/ and /θ/ may be realised as alveolar plosives /d/ and /t/ respectively,[8] for example [tɪŋ] and [ˈmɪdər] rather than [θɪŋ], or debuccalized [hɪŋ] and [hɪn], (thing) and [ˈmɪðər] mither (mother) as in Central Scots. The qu in quick, queen and queer may be realised /xʍ/ rather than /kw/, initial /tʃ/ ch may be realised /ʃ/ and the initial cluster wr may be realised /wr/ or /wər/.[9]

Vowels[edit]

The underlying vowel phonemes of Shetland Scots based on McColl Millar (2007) and Johnston P. (1997). The actual allophones may differ from place to place.

For an historical overview, see the Phonological history of Scots.

Aitken 1l 1s 8a 10 2 11 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19
/ae/ /əi/ /i/ /iː/1 /e/2 /e/ /ɔ/ /u/ /y, ø/3 /eː/4 /oe/ /ɑː/ /ʌu/ /ju/ /ɪ/5 /ɛ/6 /a~æ/7 /ɔ/ /ʌ/
  1. Vowel 11 occurs stem final.
  2. Vowel 3 is often retracted or diphthongised or may sometimes be realised /i/.[10]
  3. Vowel 7 may be realised /u/ before /r/ and /ju/ before /k/ and /x/.[11]
  4. Vowel 8 is generally merged with vowel 4,[12] often realised /ɛ/ or /æː/ before /r/.[13] The realisation in the cluster ane may be /i/ as in Mid Northern Scots.[14]
  5. Vowel 15 may be realised /ɛ̈~ë/[15] or diphthongised to /əi/ before /x/.[16]
  6. Vowel 16 may be realised /e/[17] or /æ/.[18]
  7. Vowel 17 often merges with vowel 12 before /nd/ and /l r/.[19]

Vowel length is by and large determined by the Scottish Vowel Length Rule, although there are a few exceptions.[20]

Orthography[edit]

To some extent a bewildering variety of spellings have been used to represent the varied pronunciation of the Shetlandic varieties.[21] Latterly the use of the apologetic apostrophe to represent 'missing' English letters has been avoided.[22] On the whole the literary conventions of Modern Scots are applied, if not consistently, the main differences being:

  • The /d/ and /t/ realisation of what is usually /ð/ and /θ/ in other Scots dialects are often written d and t rather than th.
  • The /xʍ/ realisation of the qu in quick, queen and queer is often written wh.
  • The /ʃ/ realisation of initial ch, usually /tʃ/ in other Scots dialects, is often written sh.
  • The letters j and k rather than y and c, influenced by Norse spelling, the former often used to represent the semivowel /j/, especially for the palatalised consonants in words such as, Yuil (Yule) written Jøl, guid (good) written gjöd or gjüd, caibin (cabin) written kjaebin, kist (chest) written kjist etc.[23]
  • Literary Scots au and aw (vowel 12 and sometimes vowel 17) are often represented by aa in written Shetlandic.[24]
  • Literary Scots ui and eu (vowel 7) are often represented by ü, ö, or ø influenced by Norse spelling.[25]

Grammar[edit]

The grammatical structure of Shetlandic generally follows that of Modern Scots, with traces of Norse (Norn) and those features shared with Standard English.[26][27]

Articles[edit]

The definite article the is pronounced [də] often written da in dialect writing. As is usual in Scots, Shetlandic puts an article where Standard English would not:[28][29]

gyaan ta da kirk/da scole in da Simmer-- 'go to church/school in summer' da denner is ready 'dinner is ready' hae da caald 'have a cold'

Nouns[edit]

Nouns in Shetlandic have grammatical gender beside natural gender.[30] Some nouns which are clearly considered neuter in English are masculine or feminine, such as spade (m), sun (m), mön (f), kirk (f).

The plural of nouns is usually formed by adding -s, as in Standard English. There are a few irregular plurals, such as kye, 'cows' or een, 'eyes'.[31][32]

Pronouns[edit]

Shetlandic also distinguishes between personal pronouns used by parents when speaking to children, old persons speaking to younger ones, or between familiar friends or equals[33] and those used in formal situations and when speaking to superiors.[34][35] (See T–V distinction)

The familiar forms are thoo (thou), pronounced [duː], often written du in dialect writing; thine(s) (thy) pronounced [daɪn(z)], often written dine(s) in dialect writing; thee, pronounced [di(ː)], often written dee in dialect writing; contrasting with the formal forms ye/you, your and you.

The familiar du takes the singular form of the verb: Du is, du hes ('you are, you have').

As is usual in Scots, the relative pronoun is that,[36] also meaning who and which, pronounced [dat] or [ət], often written dat[37] or 'at in dialect writing,[38] as in da dog at bet me... – 'the dog that bit me...'

Verbs[edit]

As is usual in Scots, the past tense of weak verbs is formed by either adding -ed, -it, or -t,[39][40] as in spoot, spootit (move quickly).

The auxiliary verb ta be 'to be', is used where Standard English would use 'to have':[41] I'm written for 'I have written'.

Ta hae 'to have', is used as an auxiliary with the modal verbs coud ('could'), hed ('had'), micht ('might'), most ('must'), sood ('should'), and wid ('would') and then reduced to [ə], often written a in dialect writing:[42] Du sood a telt me, 'you should have told me'.

As is usual in Scots, auxiliary and monosyllabic verbs can be made negative by adding -na:[43][44] widna, 'would not'. Otherwise, the Scots negative has no where standard English has 'not'.

References[edit]

  1. ^ The use of Shetlandic for the language occurs in, for example, James John Haldane Burgess (1892) Rasmie's Büddie: poems in the Shetlandic, Alexander Gardner; James Inkster (1922) Mansie's Röd: Sketches in the Shetlandic; T. & J. Manson; Jack Renwick (1963) Rainbow Bridge. (A collection of poems in English & Shetlandic.), Shetland Times; Jack Renwick, Liam O'Neill, Hayddir Johnson (2007) The harp of twilight: an anthology of poems in English and Shetlandic, Unst Writers Group.
  2. ^ SND: Shetland
  3. ^ Catford J.C. (1957) Vowel-Systems of Scots Dialects, Transactions of the Philological Society. p.115
  4. ^ Price, Glanville (1984) The Languages of Britain. London: Edward Arnold. p.203 ISBN 978-0-7131-6452-7
  5. ^ Barnes, Michael (1984) Orkney and Shetland Norn. Language in the British Isles. Ed. Peter Trudgill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. p.29
  6. ^ "Modern Shetlandic Scots" at the Wayback Machine (archived February 7, 2012). Shetlopedia. Retrieved 14 July 2012.
  7. ^ Graham, John J. 1993. The Shetland Dictionary 3rd ed. (1st ed. 1979, 2nd ed. 1984). Lerwick: The Shetland Times. xxii
  8. ^ SND Introduction - Phonetic Description of Scottish Language and Dialects. p.xl
  9. ^ SND Introduction - Phonetic Description of Scottish Language and Dialects. p.xl
  10. ^ McColl Millar. 2007. Northern and Insular Scots. Edinburgh: University Press Ltd. p.33
  11. ^ McColl Millar. 2007. Northern and Insular Scots. Edinburgh: University Press Ltd. p.48
  12. ^ McColl Millar. 2007. Northern and Insular Scots. Edinburgh: University Press Ltd. p.37
  13. ^ Johnston P. Regional Variation in Jones C. (1997) The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language, Edinburgh p.485
  14. ^ McColl Millar. 2007. Northern and Insular Scots. Edinburgh: University Press Ltd. p.35
  15. ^ Johnston P. Regional Variation in Jones C. (1997) The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language, Edinburgh p.469
  16. ^ McColl Millar. 2007. Northern and Insular Scots. Edinburgh: University Press Ltd. p.45
  17. ^ McColl Millar. 2007. Northern and Insular Scots. Edinburgh: University Press Ltd. p.39
  18. ^ Johnston P. Regional Variation in Jones C. (1997) The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language, Edinburgh p.469
  19. ^ Johnston P. Regional Variation in Jones C. (1997) The Edinburgh History of the Scots Language, Edinburgh p.485
  20. ^ Melchers, Gunnel (1991) Norn-Scots: a complicated language contact situation in Shetland. Language Contact in the British Isles: Proceedings of the Eighth International Symposium on Language Contact in Europe, Douglas, Isle of Man, 1988. Ed. P. Sture Ureland and George Broderick. Linguistische Arbeiten 238. Tübingen: Max Niemeyer. p.468
  21. ^ Graham, J.J. (1993) The Shetland Dictionary, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. xxiv
  22. ^ Graham, J.J. (1993) The Shetland Dictionary, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. xxiv-xxv
  23. ^ SND:U 2 (1)
  24. ^ SND:U 2 (1)
  25. ^ SND: J
  26. ^ Graham, J.J. (1993) The Shetland Dictionary, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. xix)
  27. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. vii
  28. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 1
  29. ^ Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p. 78
  30. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 2
  31. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 3
  32. ^ Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p. 79
  33. ^ SND: Du
  34. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 4
  35. ^ Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p. 96-97
  36. ^ Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p. 102
  37. ^ SND: Dat
  38. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 5
  39. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 9
  40. ^ Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p. 113
  41. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 11
  42. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 11
  43. ^ Robertson, T.A. & Graham, J.J. (1991) Grammar and Usage of the Shetland Dialect, Lerwick, The Shetland Times Ltd. p. 10
  44. ^ Grant, William; Dixon, James Main (1921) Manual of Modern Scots. Cambridge, University Press. p. 115

Bibliography[edit]

  • Haldane Burgess, J.J. 1913. Rasmie's Büddie: Poems in the Shetlandic ("Fancy, laek da mirrie-dancers, Lichts da sombre sky o Life.") Lerwick: T. & J. Manson.
  • Knooihuizen, Remco. 2009. "Shetland Scots as a new dialect: phonetic and phonological considerations" in English Language and Linguistics Vol. 13, Issue 3. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

External links[edit]