Skip to main navigationSkip to main content
The University of Southampton
Centre for Linguistics, Language Education and Acquisition Research

It’s just one of this things: dialect syntax and demonstratives in Scots

Key facts

It’s just one of this things: dialect syntax and demonstratives in Scots

Invited speaker: E Jamieson, University of Southampton

This is a joint presentation with the University of Essex.  
Time: 29 October, 12–1pm on Zoom


Abstract: In the first part of this talk, I introduce the Scots Syntax Atlas (SCOSYA - joint work with Jennifer Smith (Glasgow), David Adger (QMUL), Caroline Heycock (Edinburgh) & Gary Thoms (NYU)). SCOSYA is a major new resource for the study of syntactic variation and change, bringing together over 100,000+ acceptability judgments and 275 hours of recorded conversation to build a searchable atlas of present-day Scots varieties.

In the second part of the talk, I present a case study on the syntax of demonstratives in Scots. Demonstratives like this and that indicate how far from a speaker an object is. English distinguishes between this/that for one object and these/those for multiple objects, but in northern Scots, this and that can be used regardless of how many objects there are (1-2).

I was just looking at that thing on the wall.
You know that things you get on Facebook?                       
[Eng: those things]

However, while a sentence like (2) – where that combines with a noun, things – is acceptable to northern Scots speakers, the example in (3) – where that acts as a pronoun – is not.

I point to a stack of books and say:
*I bought that yesterday.

[Eng: I bought those yesterday]

Drawing on data from SCOSYA, I explore alternative strategies that northern Scots speakers use in contexts like (3), and I discuss what the difference between (2) and (3) means for the syntax of demonstratives more generally.

Privacy Settings