A 'Peripheral' Problem?: The Use of Scots in Plays Set Outwith the Central Belt of Scotland
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The use of Scots in the theatre is becoming more and more popular. The full scale of social and stylistic varieties is made use of and considerable differences in the density and the lexical richness of Scots are to be found. In comparison, regional variation is much less prominent. Most plays in Scots that are meant for supra-regional production are set in the Central Belt area and therefore employ a Central Scots dialect. The ‘peripheral’ areas of the Scots-speaking part of Scotland —the Borders, the North-east, the Far North and the Orkney and Shetland Islands —may be less attractive as dramatic settings, but linguistic reasons seem to be just as responsible for the under-representation of their dialects on stage. These dialect areas are linguistically more conservative than the industrial belt, so that their Scots is denser and preserves a lot of locally specific vocabulary. This type of language is unsuitable for performances on a national level, posing problems both for actors and audiences. A selection of very different plays from the last three decades illustrates some linguistic strategies developed by dramatists in order to set their plays in the ‘periphery’ and still create the illusion of authentic speech.