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The Shetland Dialect

1st Edition

By Peter Sundkvist

The traditional dialect spoken in the Shetland Isles, the northernmost part of Scotland and Britain, is highly distinct. It displays distinct, characteristic features on all linguistic levels and particularly in its sound system, or its phonology. The dialect is one of the lesser- known varieties of English within the Inner Circle. Increasing interest in the lesser- known varieties of English in recent years has brought a realization that there are still blanks on the map, even within the very core of the Inner Circle.

Sundkvist’s comprehensive treatise draws upon results from a three- year research project funded by the Bank of Sweden Tercentenary Foundation, for which a phonological survey of the Shetland dialect was carried out between 2010 and 2012. This book is a useful resource for those working on historical linguistics and is intended to serve as a comprehensive description and accessible reference source on one of the most distinct lesser- known varieties of English within Britain. It documents and offers a systematic account of the rich regional variation as well as being a reference source for those studying the historical formation and emergence of the Shetland dialect and language variation and change in Shetland, as well as those within the broader field of Germanic linguistics.


Table of Contents

List of Figures

List of Tables


List of Abbreviations

Chapter 1: Introduction: Researching the Shetland dialect

Chapter 2: The Shetland Isles: Language and society

Chapter 3: Fieldwork in the Shetland Isles: Methodological issues

Chapter 4: The vocabulary and grammar of the Shetland dialect

Chapter 5: The sound system of the Shetland dialect

Chapter 6: An acoustical survey of the Shetland dialect vowel system

Chapter 7: An acoustical survey of vowel and consonant duration in the Shetland dialect

Chapter 8: Conclusion: The description of the Shetland dialect and areas for future research




ISBN 9780367527839

Published November 30, 2020 by Routledge

206 Pages 37 B/W Illustrations



Peter Sundkvist is an Associate Professor and Reader in the English Department at Stockholm University. His fields of research include phonology, phonetics, and dialectology, relating to varieties of English and Germanic languages more generally. He has conducted extensive linguistic fieldwork in the Shetland Islands as part of several projects. He has also published on accent stereotypes and Asian Englishes, including those of China and Vietnam.


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