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Social activities where informants were placed in a variety of different speech situations painted a rather more fragmented picture. In this context the use of dialect was tempered by the perceived effect on the listeners.
If the speech-situation was more formal such as a meeting, people would be likely to change in order to accommodate non-dialect speakers.
Where the situation was more informal then the use of dialect would be more prevalent. There would be less pressure or need to change and the participants would be more comfortable in using there everyday mode of communication.
The chantin’ process – or pseudo-hypercorrection – which leads to the dialect speaker adopting a form of code-switching intended to impress others, led to some acerbic comments.
This was seen as amusing or unnatural and a practice that should not be carried on in any situation.
People who deliberately promote a way of speaking where they create a somewhat over-pronounced use of dialect (known as “ a pittan on way of spaekin”) was also not supported. This was seen as creating a false identity and devalues the richness of the vernacular.
The role of dialect
The role played by dialect in Orkney is significant and constructive. There are various levels at which it is employed - some more robust than others.
These depend on age-groups, geographical locations and issues related to social distance.
On a general basis the need for effective communication was the most prominent factor influencing the decision to engage in SSE in preference to the vernacular.
This was especially evident in communities where the influx of migrants had/has been greater such as the islands of Sanday, Eday and Stronsay.
There is no reason to suppose that the Orkney dialect is in imminent danger.
The findings of this thesis indicate there is a strong interest in dialect and many people enjoy using it.
The migrants may be amused by it but also try to use dialect; their children may use an Orkney accent
Visitors to the numerous tourist attractions enjoy hearing some examples of the local tongue.
The Research Questions
The research undertaken has shown that migration to Orkney has weakened the use of dialect throughout the islands. There has been a change in the perception of the vernacular employed within a range of age groups.
The social, cultural and demographic changes experienced in Orkney over the past 50 years have resulted in a transformation of attitudes towards the use of dialect but, in some cases, this has led to a resilience and determination to preserve some of the dialect.
The increased movement of people within Orkney and greater mobilisation in terms of travel outwith the islands has shaped the attitudes of people from all age groups but the cultural and social importance of the use of dialect has not been ignored.
In terms of sociological thinking it is possible to put forward a model of dialectical solidarity where the social cohesion of the islands is related to the need to practice values and beliefs that focus on the social significance of the dialect.
This approach would be linked to the promotion of Orkney dialect within the local community in terms of education, media and indeed in the working environment.
It is apparent that equilibrium is emerging within the use of dialect across the islands and parishes in Orkney. The cultural significance is recognised through the use of dialect in a variety of situations.
It is used as form of entertainment and at events, there are programmes on the local radio station featuring dialect words and the works of Robert Rendall and Christina Costie provide people with the richness of the tongue through poetry and prose.
The dialect in Orkney affects people at all levels within the community and is regarded as a valuable resource. In a world where languages and dialect evolve and change the local dialect will also change and some of the words might not be in the vocabulary of all speakers.
There are feelings of optimism that it will survive but this durability will depend on the willingness of people to use dialect and a positive attitude towards its value to Orkney.
I see no need tae change as I hiv spoken dialect aal me life….no point in changin noo” (jc)
“ Am aafil faird that the dialect will get more and more diluted.. Used tae ken everbody in the parish … noo its jist a collection o strangers” (jw)
Folk that move up here should learn to spaek the wey wae do .. Why should wae change cis they dinna….” (dk)
“ It is maybe lukked on as no showin much respect if you are using a local and parochial wey o spaekin” (nl)