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Scottish English is taken by some to include Scots and by others to exclude it. Here Scots is excluded and only what is known as Scottish Standard English considered. SSE is the form of the English language used in Scotland. It is normally used in formal, non-fictional written texts in Scotland. Phonetics are in IPA.
The standard spelling, grammar, and punctuation tend to follow the style of the Oxford English Dictionary (OED). However, there are some unique characteristics, many of which originate in the country's two autochthonous languages, the Scottish Gaelic language and Lowland Scots. The speech of the middle classes in Scotland often conforms to the grammatical norms of the written standard, particularly in situations that are regarded as formal. Highland English is slightly different from the variety spoken in the lowlands in that it is more phonologically, grammatically, and lexically influenced by a Gaelic substratum.
General items are outwith, meaning outside of; pinkie for little finger; doubt meaning to think or suspect; and wee, the Scots word for small. Correct is often preferred to right meaning morally right or just, as opposed to just factually accurate.
There is a wide range of (often anglicised) legal and administrative vocabulary inherited from Scots. depute for deputy. proven /ˈproːvən/ for proved, and sheriff substitute for acting sheriff.
Pronunciation features vary among speakers, and there are regional differences. Conservative Scottish English is phonologically close to Scots in many aspects though in some it has departed from it.
- The historically rhotic pronunciation of "r" wherever it occurs in a word, usually [r] an alveolar trill, though sometimes flapped [ɽ] or constricted [ɹ].
- The differentiation between "w" in witch and "wh" in which, [w] and [ʍ] respectively.
- The realisation [x] for "ch" in loch, patriarch, technical, etc.
- L is usually dark though in areas where Gaelic was recently spoken—including Dumfries and Galloway a clear l may be found.
- In length and 'strength [n] not [ŋ].
- Wednesday is pronounced /wɛdnzde/ in RP, it is pronounced /wɛnzdeɪ/.
- The following may occur in colloquial speech, usually among the young, especially males. They are not usually regarded as part of SSE, their origin being in Scots:
- The use of glottal stops for [t] between vowels or word final after a vowel, as in butter /ˈbʌʔəɹ/ and cat /ˈkaʔ/.
- The realisation of the nasal velar in "-ing" as a nasal alveolar "in'", as in talking /ˈtɑːkɪn/.
- Vowel length is usually non-phonemic and operates in varying degrees across varieties and gives Scots their distinctive "clipped" pronunciation. That is generally the same as in the Scots language.
- SSE usually has short [a], [ɪ], [ɛ], [ʌ], [ɔ] in trap and start, kit, bread and dress, strut, thought, and lot.
- In SSE the monophthongs [i], [e], [o], [u] may be long before a voiced fricative, [r] or #
- SSE [i], [e], [o], [u]. in bead, fleece, near, steel, bear,face, square, stale, goat, coal, force, stole and goose, foot, stool.
- SSE [ɪɛ], [aɪ], [ʌu], [ɔi] in price, fire, mouth, and choice.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [i] and [iː] in Keith, lease, leaf, leap and breathe, sneeze, leave, bee.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [i] and [iː] in greed, need, Healey and agreed, kneed, freely.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [ɔ] and [ɔː] in nod and gnawed'.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [u] and [uː] in brood and brewed.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [əɪ] and [aɪ], in rice, tide, slide, while and rise, tie, tied, sly, why.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [ɔ] and [o] in cot and coat.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [ɔ] and [oː] before /r/ in sword and soared, horse and hoarse.
- In SSE cot and caught tend to merge [ɔ] but some speakers contrast [ɔ] and [ɔː].
- In SSE don and dawn merge [ɔ].
- In SSE daughter and law tend to merge [ɔ].
- SSE usually distinguishes between [ɛ]-[ɪ]-[ʌ] before [r] in herd-bird-curd, in Received Pronunciation these have merged.
- SSE usually distinguishes between [oːr] and [uːr], as in shore, core, door,floor, and poor.
- In SSE fool, put, and full have [u], [ʉ] or [y].
- In SSE bath, pam, and trap, palm have [a].
- SSE usually distinguishes between [ʌur] and [ʌuər], in flour and flower.
Syntactical differences are few though in colloquial speech shall and ought are wanting, must is marginal for obligation and may is rare.
Can I come too? for "May I come too?"
My hair needs washed. for "My hair needs to be washed."
Have you got any? for "Do you have any?"
She's a bonnie lass. for "She's a pretty girl."
I've got one of those already. for "I have one of those already."
It's your shot for "It's your turn."
Other influences from Scots may occur depending on the speaker.
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