Gyan doon? Scots specialist finds perfect pitch for lift

June 30, 2006

A Scots language expert at Aberdeen University has ensured the local accent is on the up - by helping to choose a replacement for the English accent in an Aberdeen hotel lift.

J. Derrick McClure, senior lecturer in English, was asked to apply his specialist knowledge of Doric, the dialect of northeast Scotland, to help select the perfect accent to greet customers taking the lift at the city's Carmelite Hotel.

Hotel manager David Trotter said that he liked to use local suppliers whenever possible. "When we got the lift, it had an English accent and we didn't want that. We wanted a local from Aberdeen to be our voice," he said.

Mr McClure helped choose the best voice from among dozens of applicants.

The winner, Steve Taylor, a window cleaning business owner, will shortly record new messages.

Mr McClure denied that the new voice would be confusing for the city's visitors. "It's not as if it's broad Doric, saying things such as 'doors stekkin' (doors closing) or 'gyan doon' (going down)," he said.

"It's standard English spoken in a northeast accent. If people come to this part of the country, they want to hear how people here speak. Why should you have an English accent in a Scottish lift?"

In the past, "received pronunciation" (RP), or "BBC English", was internationally renowned as a marker of dignity and prestige, but those days are long gone, Mr McClure said.

The Doric has different intonational contours from RP, which Mr McClure described as "flat". By contrast, he said, the Doric intonation went up and down and used a wider range of pitch.

Please login or register to read this article

Register to continue

Get a month's unlimited access to THE content online. Just register and complete your career summary.

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments