'Marginal dialects': language varieties on linguistic boundaries in Scotland, Ireland and beyond


Volume Editor: Robert McColl Millar, r.millar@abdn.ac.uk

Deadline for proposals: 31 March 2009

Proposals should be between 250 and 400 words.

Deadline for drafts:   30 September 2009


With a few exceptions, dialectology '€“ both synchronic and diachronic '€“ has been primarily concerned with 'typical' varieties of a language, varieties which have developed as part of an archetypal dialect continuum. But while study of this sort has advantages when defining the essential features of a language as a whole, it ignores the phenomenon inevitable at the end of every dialect continuum: contact between a variety of one language with a variety of a language which is at most a more distant relative and may not be related at all. Under most circumstances these contact dialects are unlikely to become the official language of a polity '€“ Luxembourgish is a peculiar and in many ways unexpected counter-example. Yet the linguistic and sociolinguistic features which contact varieties possess provide us with a number of opportunities to understand the way a particular variety developed, how and why it developed in a particular way and, perhaps most importantly, the ways in which language contact can effect and affect language change.

                      Scotland and Ireland provide a number of examples '€“ both contemporary and historical '€“ of just such contacts, with contacts existing at one time or another between English and Irish, Irish and Scots, English and Gaelic, Gaelic and Scots and Scots and Norn. Each of these contacts evinces unique linguistic and sociolinguistic features worthy of study in themselves. The contact between the much closer relatives, English and Scots, found in Scotland and Ireland, needs also to be borne in mind, both in literate and non-literate contexts, as do the linguistically similar (but sociolinguistically different) contacts between Irish and Gaelic which have taken place in both countries. Yet similar features can be found in language contact situations throughout the world. For this reason, this collection will include contributions from scholars working on analogous situations.

We would therefore be very interested in receiving proposals for essays on language contacts between 'marginal dialects' in Scotland, Ireland and beyond. Essays can be diachronic or synchronic in orientation and can deal with whole systems or concentrate on a sub-systemic feature. Linguistic and sociolinguistic focuses are equally welcome, as are treatments informed by any theoretical viewpoint.