Glaswegian tainted by the strains of Sarf Lunnun

By Fred Bridgland

The Independent (London), 28 June 2000

The quickfire patter of Glaswegians that millions of English speakers find so hard to understand is being polluted by southern slang Estuary English.

A professor at the University of Glasgow says the language of uneducated London characters such as Frank Butcher in the BBC's EastEnders is replacing the refined tongue of such Glasgow diehards as Rab C Nesbitt and Billy Connolly.

Jane Stuart-Smith, of the English language department, says Glasgow teenagers no longer properly pronounce "mivver", a respectable Scots equivalent of Rees-Moggian or Brian Sewellian "mother".

Dr Stuart-Smith says her 20,000 research project shows the youngsters are beginning to use the Estuary English equivalent of "muvvers". She blames EastEnders for the spread of "insidious, creeping jockney".

She says: "We were amazed to find the Glasgow accent, distinctive as it is, is changing. 'Toof' for 'tooth' is becoming more common, while other Glasgow variations such as 'mulk' [for 'milk'] are also on the decline."

And "southern Estuary drawl" from Essex and Kent is beginning to replace such distinctive lowland Scots sounds as the guttural "ch" in "loch".

"What we seem to have is the start of a shift," says the professor. "The London influence is fanning out, and in cities like Milton Keynes, Hull and Newcastle the same type of process has been happening."

But the cultural traffic is not all one way, Dr Stuart-Smith found. The glottal stop, believed by Glaswegians to have its origins in their city, has been embraced by the entire cast of EastEnders, who swallow their ts, ps and ks like true Glasgow speakers when using such words as "sta'ement" and "sea'belt".

2000 Independent Digital (UK)

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