This chapter argues that the construction 'the idea is…' has undergone significant changes including (i) an increase in discourse frequency and a trend towards clausal complementation with 'to' or 'that', (ii) a decrease in morphosyntactic productivity and syntagmatic variability, and (iii) semantic developments towards grammatical meanings of intention, purpose or volition. In the spoken mode, 'the idea is…' also displays increased rates of intrusive /r/ and a tendency towards level or first-syllable stress in this grammatical use, which we interpret as phonological indicators of the dissociation from its lexical, nominal source. On the basis of data from different corpora (e.g. ICE-GB, BNC, ARCHER and the Time Magazine Corpus) we present synchronic and diachronic evidence showing that Hopper’s (1991) principles of grammaticalization – divergence, specialization, persistence and decategorialization – as well as Lehmann’s (1995) parameters of syntagmatic variability, bondedness and paradigmaticity can be applied to the variation and change found in this construction. We therefore conclude that the construction 'the idea is...' is undergoing grammaticalization.
In this chapter an analysis of psychoacoustically transformed and normalized acoustic vowel data from sixteen speakers of Scottish Standard English (SSE) are presented. Apart from a general discussion of the findings against the background of current textbook descriptions of the accent, special attention will be paid to possible effects the regional provenance of speakers has on the organisation of their vowel spaces. The three regions in question are Edinburgh, Northern Central Scotland (Stirlingshire, West Fife & South Angus) and the Northeast (Aberdeenshire). The resulting vowel plots correspond rather well to articulatory and impressionistic descriptions in the literature and share most of the characteristics of SSE, for instance a rather front /u/ and a considerably centralised /ɪ/. It can also be shown that with regard to some vowel features, the regional background of speakers plays a modest role. While the limitations of the corpus do not allow to generalise very far, the chapter points the direction to future research on regional variation within Scottish Standard English.
This chapter analyses the variation of the FACE and GOAT vowels (for example in the words 'say' or 'so') in the accents of speakers of Scottish Standard English (SSE) in Edinburgh, looking at social, stylistic and language-internal factors. One focus of the research is the potential diphthongisation of these vowels into variants that more closely resemble their acoustic forms in Southern Standard British English (SSBE) accents. The results show that there is systematic sociolinguistic variation of these vowels, but forces that are at work within the SSE accent seem to play a more important role than external influence from the direction of SSBE.
This paper inspects the variability of (r) in non-linking coda positions (e.g. in the words car, far, and art) in Scottish Standard English (SSE), accepting the three variants [ɾ], [ɹ], and Ø. Interviews with 27 middle-class speakers were conducted, eliciting three styles (careful speech, reading passage, and word list). Following a discussion of previous research on (r) in SSE and an explanation of the conditional hierarchical logistic regression model applied to the data, results are presented with a focus on social and stylistic factors. It appears that female speakers are more likely to vocalise /r/, and older speakers are more likely to use the more traditional tapped variant [ɾ]. Thus, quasi-phonological variation correlates with gender, and phonetic variation correlates with age. Moreover, contact with Southern Standard British English (SSBE) also increases the rates of (r)-vocalisation. In word list style, all speakers are less likely to vocalise (r), but there are significant differences between social groups in this respect: especially young men’s accents are almost categorically rhotic in word list style.
The present paper provides a survey of the influence exerted by rhythm on various domains of linguistic constituency. It fosters a layered conception of the structure of linguistic utterances (similar to the one present in neural network models) and argues that the intensity of rhythmic effects decreases with an increasing distance between the linguistic subsystem concerned and the rhythmic system. The latter is part of the phonological layer, which, by hypothesis, borders on the morphological layer (comprising affixes as well as free grammatical words), which, in turn, connects with the syntactic layer, which is itself framed by the vast system of semantic concepts. Thus, in the production of an utterance, the linguistic system seeks to solve a problem of rhythmic well-formedness by means of minimal modifications as close as possible to the place where the problem arises. For this reason, most rhythmic problems are solved on the rhythm-internal level, many are solved on the morphological level, some on the syntactic level and only a few on the semantic level.
The argument is based on a large number of representative case studies, surveying grammatical variation phenomena that have been shown to be sensitive to the rhythmic preference for alternating stressed and unstressed syllables (Schlüter 2005). Among the phenomena studied are numerous instances in which the application of rhythm rules suffices to render the construction grammatically acceptable. In many cases, however, the presence or absence of a grammatical morpheme is determined by the need for a buffer syllable. There are some variation phenomena concerning optional morphemes that still are or used to be free syntactic forms, which occupy the borderline between morphology and syntax. A few other phenomena clearly belong to the domain of syntax, but hardly any cases have been detected where a semantic alteration can be ascribed to a rhythmic problem. In addition to the raw numbers of relevant phenomena testifying to rhythmic influences, the empirical, corpus-based methodology employed in the case studies allows us to quantify the magnitude of the effects obtained.
The qualitative and quantitative gradation of rhythmic influences on other levels of linguistic structure can be taken to derive from the layered structure of a neural network. In this network, the layers (corresponding to the modules in traditional grammatical theory) interpenetrate each other, but only to a limited extent. Morphological choices are very strongly determined by the resultant rhythmic constellations, syntax is much less under the sway of rhythm, and semantics tolerates at most minimal adjustments in favour of a better rhythm.