Capitalising on the City: Edinburgh’s linguistic identities

Scott, MR ORCID: 2012, 'Capitalising on the City: Edinburgh’s linguistic identities' , Collegium, 13 , pp. 115-131.

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This paper examines the linguistic identities of Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital city, and the contexts in which they are currently used. The city is known by a range of different names that are linked with its historical and contemporary identities as they are represented in Scottish Gaelic, Scottish English and Scots. In terms of its etymology, the name Edinburgh is part Celtic and part Germanic, but in modern usage it exists within the official and standard discourses of the dominant language variety, Scottish English. It is the form of the name most usually employed in other British and International Englishes. In modern Scottish Gaelic, the city is called Dùn Èideann, and of those designations which could qualify as Scots, the best known is probably the nickname Auld Reekie “Old Smoky”, made popular in 18 th century literature and still in use today. Particular attention is drawn here to the role that these toponymic identities play in relation to the place identity of the city. Each name resonates with different narratives of history and culture, which, although subjectively shaped at the individual level, share at least sufficient prototypical meaning for them to be employed effectively (and further shaped and manipulated) in a variety of public and commercial contexts. It is argued here that the ways in which these three toponymic layers describe the city reveal a complex paradigm of contested space, and that by better understanding the uses of these names we can better understand the linguistic politics of the city’s image and the current roles played by Scotland’s languages.

Item Type: Article
Themes: Memory, Text and Place
Schools: Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences > Centre for English Literature and Language
Schools > School of Humanities, Languages & Social Sciences
Journal or Publication Title: Collegium
Publisher: Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies
Refereed: Yes
Related URLs:
Funders: Vice-Chancellor's Early Career Research Scholarship, University of Salford
Depositing User: Dr Maggie Scott
Date Deposited: 02 Aug 2013 13:39
Last Modified: 16 Feb 2022 15:04

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