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Extremely Common Eloquence

constructing Scottish identity through narrative

Ronald K.S. Macaulay

Extremely Common Eloquence presents a detailed analysis of the narrative and rhetorical skills employed by working-class Scots in talking about important aspects of their lives. The wide range of devices employed by the speakers and the high quality of the examples provide convincing evidence to reject any possible negative evaluation of working-class speech on the basis of details of non-standard pronunciation and grammar. In addition to this display of linguistic accomplishment the examples examined show how these skills are employed to communicate important aspects of Scottish identity and culture.
Although the political status of Scotland has fluctuated over the past four hundred years, the sense of Scottish identity has remained strong. Part of that sense of identity comes from a form of speech that remains markedly distinct from that of the dominant neighbour to the south. There are cultural attitudes that indicate a spirit of independence that is consistent with this linguistic difference. The ways in which the speakers in this book express themselves reveal their beliefs in egalitarianism, independence, and the value of hard work. Extremely Common Eloquence demonstrates how the methods of linguistic analysis can be combined with an investigation into cultural values.