A sociolinguistic approach to the study of literary dialect in the work of John Galt and Christian Johnstone
This thesis is interested in the communicative function of literary dialect. It argues that approaches to the study of literary dialect which focus on linguistic form at the expense of literary function have helped to create a false dichotomy: literary dialect is seen either as the writer's serious attempt at re-creating the nuances of speech, or else is merely the use of established literary conventions which have no bearing on actual linguistic usage. Taking John Galt's The Entail (1823) and The Provost (1822) together with `West Country Exclusives' by Christian Johnstone (1834-5) as case studies, the thesis aims to develop, apply and assess a series of analytical procedures which can effectively describe the selection and distribution of literary dialect in these texts and can explain the range of functions dialect serves: its role in creating the impression of verisimilitude and the development of characterisation, together with its wider thematic and stylistic functions. The sociolinguistic approach to the study of literary dialect adopted here incorporates methods already established within linguistic research. For example, the dialectology of West-Mid Scots provides a model of the Ayrshire dialect represented in the above texts. In addition, primary sources from the period, together with modern linguistic studies of the historical relationship between Scots and Standard English, help to create a picture of sociolinguistic behaviour in early 19th century Scotland, the period in which the above texts are both written and set. Furthermore, sociolinguistics provides both a descriptive model for selecting and classifying linguistic variables and counting their occurrence as well as an established theoretical framework for interpreting linguistic variation. However, traditional sociolinguistic techniques need to be adapted to suit an analysis of the whole dialect component in a literary text. In this respect the thesis develops a system of `metavariables' which can account for different categories of Scotticism. Analysis of the selection and distribution of literary dialect in The Entail and The Provost is facilitated by the use of the Oxford Concordance Program, a general purpose software package for creating wordlists and concordances.