Talk:Highland English

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Inaccurate map[edit]

(The following is a duplicate of comments I made here: Talk:Scottish_English#Inaccurate_map.)

The following map has been applied to the English English page, and to Scottish English:

Diagram showing the geographical locations of selected languages and dialects of the British Isles.

It appears to have one major flaw, and several quibbles:

  • Where on earth is the Scots language? Its ommission seems particularly inappropriate considering the debt owed to Scots by Scottish English. Somewhat bizarrely, only one dialect of Scots is included, and that is the tiny number of Ulster Scots speakers, only about 2% of all Scots-speakers! I know that the map is titled "Selected languages", but it is baffling why the only language the auther has "selected" not to include is Scots!
  • Why on earth have two distinct languages, Scottish Gaelic language and Irish language, been shown as a homogenous blob?
  • Highland English is missing: another rather stark absence on this Scottish English page.
  • Why are several subdivisions of English English shown, but only two of Scottish English? The differences between the Fife dialect and Aberdonian are just as big, if not bigger, than the differences between Brummie and Yorkshire dialect.
  • Where on earth did Shetland go? A stunning ommission, considering that it is one of the most distictive linguistic groups in the entire British Isles?

I find it very depressing to hear that a German textbook publisher wants to use it in textbooks for 600 schools. No wonder many people grow up with a very strange perception of the language situation in the United Kingdom.--Mais oui! 10:32, 27 October 2005 (UTC)Reply[reply]

"Why on earth have two distinct languages, Scottish Gaelic language and Irish language, been shown as a homogenous blob?"

Well in fairness as the map is primarily concerned with English dialects/accents i dont think its too important (and its all round awful anyway). Given the similarity between the accent of Scottish and Irish speakers (at least to non-highland britons) id say its fair enough to class them together as a combined region of 'Gaelic' accent/English dialect.

An Siarach

The map is very simplistic, there are many as variants inside the areas shown for various accents in England. When I lived in Lancashire I could distinguish many of the towns, even quite small ones, from the accent. I think someone is just trying to show broad classifications for an overseas readership. Just a pity that someone could not have found a better map --jmb 23:25, 27 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Another question is why the gaelic blob excludes areas like the Coigeach peninsula where Gaelic is most people's everyday language. MichealT (talk) 20:26, 3 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Does Highland English exist?[edit]

I have my doubts as to whether Highland English, actually exists in the way the article describes. In the Highlands there are areas where people (of a certain age) speak Gaelic as their first language, there are places where Gaelic died out 100-150 years ago, and there are areas where some form of Teutonic language has been present, though not necessarily dominant, for 1000 years or more.

The idea that these all speak "Highland English" requires a vivid imagination. The article needs to distinguish between the speaking of English in the Highlands as "Scottish Gaelic-influenced English" (in the west) and as "Highland Scots or Highland Scottish English" (in the east), though it would be impossible to separate them completely.

In places with recent Gaelic, there are very few dialect words, apart from the ubiquitous Scottish ones such as wee, lassie, bairn, oxter.

In places (such as parts of Easter Ross) where English or a Scots form of it have been dominant for much longer, dialect words are much more numerous, and the accent is completely different to the lilting west-coast one. "Hwateffer" and "chust" would be totally unknown there.

It is also worth noting that in west coast villages such as Lochcarron, the English spoken by young people leaving school is totally different to that of their elders who are 40 to 50 years older.

Another thing I have noticed - an elderly father and his middle aged son, Dingwall born and bred, and with broad Dingwall accents, fail to pronounce "loch" in the Scottish way, but instead refer to "Lock-carron", blithely unaware that this is how English newcomers pronounce the name. I haven't had enough contact with other Easter Ross people in recent years to know if this is widespread or just their own family idiosyncrasy.

And of course then there is the influx of numerous English people and lowland Scots who have greatly changed Highland language and culture throughout the region, though in varying degrees and ways.

--PeterR 21:53, 8 February 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Yes, Highland English exists alright. Practically everybody around here uses Gaelic words as part of their everyday "English" language. Obviously, there are differences between various regions, etc, but it cannot be disputed that Highland English exists. I would be surprised if many people would think of it that way, though, and just consider it an accent. The Dingwall family you mention - I have lived in Dingwall for many years, and am still in the area extremely frequently. I have never heard a local pronounce loch the way you describe. In fact, I'm surprised they've been allowed to get away with that! I would say no, it's not widespread. My brother pronounces zebra the American way, zeebra, much to the annoyance of everybody who knows him, but I wouldn't use him as an example of the way people speak in the Highlands.... Lianachan 17:07, 23 March 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is probably similar to the arguments above about the map of English accents that lumps together whole areas. Putting Norfolk, Suffolk and Essex in one group is as bad as talking of a Highland English. There are similarities in the way English is spoken in the Highlands but I would be reluctant to group them too closely. What about Wick and Caithness? --jmb 23:33, 27 July 2006 (UTC)Reply[reply]

White Settlers[edit]

The source states that locals "respond by characterising locally resident cosmopolitans as 'white settlers' ". If you have a source that defines the phrase as meaning specifically "English settlers", then by all means state that as an alternate, but don't use a perfectly good source as a citation for something it does not say. Ben MacDui 18:28, 10 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

According to 'Being English in Scotland: A Guide', Page 11, 'The term [White Settler] meant different things to different people, and was commonly used to describe English incomers, though that was not always the case'[1] —Preceding unsigned comment added by Blairtummock (talkcontribs) 20:23, 10 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Fair enough. I'll see what can be added from this. Ben MacDui 09:54, 11 October 2008 (UTC)Reply[reply]


Does Highland English exist? (again)[edit]

Can anyone provide some citations to back up the claims in this article. There is no evidence given that 'Highland English' has been identified and named by linguists - the article seems largely mads up to me. --hippo43 (talk) 08:21, 6 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]

J.C. Wells, Accents of English, vol. II, p. 412ff. (Chapter "The Highlands and Islands").
Cynthia Shuken, "Highland and Island English", in: Peter Trudgill, Language in the British Isles, pp. 152-166.
Unoffensive text or character (talk) 09:13, 6 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
(Unfortunately, I have no access to the books themselves, so I will not be able to improve the article.)Unoffensive text or character (talk) 09:21, 6 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Thanks. Searching Google books, I can't find anything in these which explicitly identifies and describes 'Highland English' as a variety of English distinct from Scottish English, and not as just an accent. If anyone can provide a quote it would be really useful. --hippo43 (talk) 09:28, 6 March 2009 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I would find it very hard to treat a different vocabulary/lexicon as "just an accent"; and I would also find it hard to treat different grammatical constructs as just an accent. When I lived in Scotland, the only people I heard using the "after" construction for the present perfect were highlanders, and the only people I heard using (in English) words like "coilleagan" or phrases like "ma tà" were highlanders; and the only people who ever used idioms like "It's a good pig that is in you" were highlanders. So it seems pretty clear that the differences between the English spoken by highlanders and that spoken by other Scots include differences of grammar, differences of vocabulary, and differences of idiom. There are in fact a good number of each of those kinds of difference. Yes, there are differences of accent too, but these are not the only differences. I do however have a bit of a problem with the idea that there is a single Highland English - because I know that language can change quite a lot over a very short distance - it would be odd, I think, to find the same English in Lettermore and in Ulapul.MichealT (talk) 21:19, 3 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I must confess I do not even understand what Hippo43 means. It is obvious that there exists literature about a variety of English calles "Highland and Island English". There is ample evidence of differences in grammar, lexicon and pronunciation. So what more is needed to make it a variety distinct from Scottish English?Unoffensive text or character (talk) 08:45, 4 February 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

'That' for 'those'[edit]

My grandmother says this, and I was wondering if it was a feature of Highland English in general. Instead of saying things like, "Let me get you those socks you asked for," she'll say, "Let me get you that socks etc.". I wouldn't want to add it to the page unless someone could confirm that it's common up there. Can anyone elucidate me?

My grandma's from Marybank, by the way, but she's lived in England for fifty years. It might just be a peculiarity.

Pretender (talk) 22:36, 30 April 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]


The list really needs cutting down to those specific to Highland English. Words like firth, strath and céilidh don't belong in there, it does nothing to illustrate specific examples of HE. Akerbeltz (talk) 21:45, 26 June 2010 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Erm, yes they do.

White Settlers[edit]

are English... Americans, Poles etc are not called such.