Change in Buchan vowel harmony

  • Debbie Schindelman


English is not typically considered to be a vowel harmony language, and yet one of its cousins, Buchan Scots, clearly shows vowel-harmonic patterns. This involves a type of height harmony which is blocked by certain consonants and consonant clusters (which do not form a natural class). The front vowel /ɪ/ has historically functioned as a high vowel but seems to have changed into a non-high vowel in the inland dialectal variant. This article considers whether this change has also occurred in the costal variant of the dialect. From newly collected data, I observe that /ɪ/ continues to behave as a high vowel in the Buchan Scots spoken on the coast. However, there are some indications that the group of blocking consonants is shifting to include simple nasals and /r/. While simple nasals have been documented as blocking consonants in some varieties, /r/ has not.