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Place identity and authenticity in minority language revitalisation: Scottish Gaelic in Glasgow

Research output: Contribution to Journal/MagazineJournal articlepeer-review

<mark>Journal publication date</mark>31/10/2022
<mark>Journal</mark>International Journal of Bilingualism
Issue number5
Number of pages22
Pages (from-to)542-563
Publication StatusPublished
Early online date13/07/22
<mark>Original language</mark>English


Aims and objectives:
This paper firstly aims to examine how young Gaelic-English bilinguals in immersion education produce aspects of Gaelic phonology. We secondly consider the extent to which they acquire aspects of a traditional dialect. Thirdly, we investigate how young new speakers outside of a traditional community negotiate place identity and authenticity.

Our methodology firstly consists of quantitative acoustic and auditory phonetic analysis of word list production data, accompanied by mixed effects regression. Secondly, we employ qualitative analysis of interview data from the same participants.

Data and Analysis:
Data are presented from 22 speakers aged 13-14 in Gaelic Medium Education in Glasgow and 15 speakers aged 13-14 in GME on the Isle of Lewis. For comparison with a traditional dialect, we also include 3 speakers from Lewis aged 65-80. Our quantitative analysis considers 3605 tokens in total and the qualitative analysis considers interview data with all speakers.

Our finding show that young speakers reproduce traditional aspects of Gaelic phonology, though generally to a lesser extent that older speakers. Young new speakers in Glasgow recognise that they do not speak a traditional dialect of the language. They are beginning to create a new authenticity associated with belonging to Glasgow, which represents a new acquisition setting.

This study is the first to explore acquisition of dialect and phonology among young new speakers of Gaelic. We explore perceptions of dialect and the implications of not coming from a traditional Gaelic-speaking area for the first time in young people.

Revitalisation settings can lead to successful language acquisition but may also contribute to dialect levelling. However, institutional support structures can lead to increased confidence and new place identities emerging in young speakers.