V Международная студенческая научная конференция Студенческий научный форум - 2013


Захарова Т.И. 1, Сократян А.М. 1
1Новосибирский Государственный Педагогический Университет
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In the case of English there exists a great diversity in the spoken realization of the language and particularly in terms of pronunciation. The varieties of the language are conditioned by language communities ranging from small groups to nations. Speaking about the nations we refer to the national variants of the language.

Every national variety of the language falls into territorial or regional dialects. Dialects are distinguished from each other by differences in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. We must make clear that, when we refer to varieties in pronunciation only, we use the word "accent". So local accents may have many features of pronunciation in common and consequently are grouped into territorial or area accents. In Britain, for example, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire accents form the group of "Northern accent". We must admit, however, that in most textbooks on phonetics the word "dialect" is still used in reference to the regional pronunciation peculiarities, though in the latest editions both in this country and abroad the difference in terms "dialects and accents" is generally accepted. As we see, those terms should be treated differently when related to different aspects of the language. It is, however, true that there is a great deal of overlap between these terms. In this work we are going to speak about the differences in pronunciation only, thus we refer to the term “accent”.

We decided to take into consideration the Scottish and Northern Irish accents of the English language.

English has been spoken in Scotland for as long as it has been spoken in England. In the Highlands and Islands of northern and western Scotland, however, Gaelic is still the native language of thousands of speakers from these regions. A standardized form of this language, known as Scots, was used at the court and in literature until the Reformation. Then it was gradually replaced by English. Incidentally a number of writers and poets of the likes of R. Burns retained their native language. Nowadays educated Scottish people speak a form of Scottish Standard English which grammatically and lexically is not different from English used elsewhere, although with an obvious Scottish accent.

In the Middle Ages almost the whole of Ireland was Irish speaking. Nowadays, however, native speakers of Irish are few in number and are confined to rural areas even though Irish is the official language of Ireland and is taught in schools. The English of northern parts of the island with its centre in Belfast has its roots in Scotland, as large numbers of settlers carne to this part from the south-west of Scotland from the seventeenth century onwards. Now speaking about Northern Ireland, it is true to say that English here is not homogeneous. Areas of the far north are heavily Scots-influenced. Other parts are marked by less heavily Scots-influenced varieties of English. [3]

The object of our investigation is the Scottish and Irish accents.

The subject of our investigation is their distinctive features.

The aim of the investigation is comparison of the Irish and Scottish accents and defining people's attitude to them.

The objectives of investigation may be stated as follows:

1. To do a descriptive analysis based on the recordings of accents.

2. To state the attitude of native speakers and bilinguals to these accents.

3. To define perceptive difficulties during listening to the recordings of these accents.

This work has two parts: theoretical and practical. In the theoretical part we single out common and individual distinctive features of the accents. In the practical part we find out about attitudes of the American native speakers and Russian artificial bilinguals towards these accents.

We carried out an analysis of the distinctive features of the accents on a segmental level and find out that:

  1. the vowel systems of the Scottish and Irish accents are similar: bird - [bɪɾd], bard – [bɑ:ɾd], moor – [mʊɾ];

  2. post-vocalic retroflex frictionless sonorant [ɾ] being used in both regional variants;

  3. [h] is present in both variants.

4)Non-initial [t] is often realized as glottal stop [ʔ].

Individual distinctive features may be defined as follows:

  • the Scottish variant of English:

  1. Scottish English consistently preserves a distinction between [hw] and [w]: which [hwɪtʃ] – witch [wɪtʃ].

2) Initial [p, t, k] are usually non-aspirated.

3) [l] is dark in all positions.

4) The velar fricative [x] occurs a number of words: loch [lɔx].

5) -ing is [ɪn].

6) A specific Scottish feature is the pronunciation of [θr] as [ʃr]: through [ʃru:].

- the Northern Irish variant of English:

1) [l] is mainly clear.

2) intervocalic [t] is often a voiced flap [d]: city ['sɪdi:];

3) between vowels [θ] may be lost: mother ['mɔ:ər].

4) diphthong /ei/becomes monophthong /e/, e.g. explain

5) phonetic affricate /tj/ and affricate /tʃ/are confused, e.g. tube is [tʃu:b], tune is [tʃu:n]

6) interdental sounds /θ/and /ð/ are replaced with occlusive plosive alveolar sounds /t/ and /d/, e.g. What do you think of this? [1], [2]

The Object of the investigation is two groups consist of the American native speakers and the Russian artificial bilinguals. The Subject of the investigation is defining the attitude of these two groups to the Irish and Scottish accents. The Method of investigation is a questionnaire.

Two recordings of the accents and the questionnaire were given to the recipients. After listening to the recordings each group should have filled in the given form.

The sample of the questionnaire:

Please listen to the given recordings and fill in the form by typing in the required information.













The 1st recording:

  1. Did you understand the recording?

  1. Can you recognize the accent?

  1. Can you point out its distinctive features? What helps you to do it?

  1. What is your attitude to this accent?


Do you like it or not?


How can you describe it?


Does the accent sound beautiful or ugly?


Do you think it’s correct or incorrect?


Do you think it’s formal or informal?


The 2nd recording:

  1. Did you understand the recording?

  1. Can you recognize the accent?

  1. Can you point out its distinctive features? What helps you to do it?

  1. What is your attitude to this accent?


Do you like it or not?


How can you describe it?


Does the accent sound beautiful or ugly?


Do you think it’s correct or incorrect?


Do you think it’s formal or informal?


The list of words pronounced in the recordings:
















New Orleans





Spitting Image








Further are the results of our research:

  1. Did you understand the recording?

2) Can you recognize the accent?

3) Can you point out its distinctive features? What helps you to do it?

4) What is your attitude to this accent?

5) Do you like it or not?

6) How can you describe it?

7) Does the accent sound beautiful or ugly?

8) Do you think it’s correct or incorrect?

9) Do you think it’s formal or informal?

In conclusion we would like that the Northern Irish and Scottish accents are quiet similar, thanks to the historical events which influenced them and formed their common distinctive features such as tapped allophone of sonorant [r] and similar vowel system.

However these accents have some contrary distinctive features which help to differentiate them such as when the diphthong /ei/ is confused with the sound /e/ in the Irish accent and when sounds /hw/ and the voiceless labiovelar approximant /w/ are confused in the Scottish accent.

According to our research work we have singled out some problems which the participants came across while filling up the questionnaire:

  • Fast speech

  • Different intonation

  • Sound /r/ was the main feature to define the accent

These difficulties caused misunderstanding which can be explained by the fact that American native speakers don’t have deep linguistic education and they have a vague notion of these accents. As concerns bilinguals they didn’t come across such materials thus they defined some distinctive features but couldn’t relate them to the accents themselves.


1) Wells J. C. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1982.

2) Wells J. C. Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 1993.3) Соколова, М.А. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка / М.А. Соколова, И.С. Тихонова, Р.М. Тихонова, Е.Л. Фрейдина, - Дубна: Феникс+, 2010. – 192 с.

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