Scots accent is still strong


ACCENTS constantly evolve, but research by the University of Glasgow indicates that the accents of Scotland are sticking to their roots a lot more than their English counterparts, despite the influence of TV and contact with people from other regions.

The three year Sounds of the City study, funded by the Leverhulme Trust, built a state of the art electronic spoken corpus and focused on speech sounds of Glaswegians from each decade, past to present spanning the 20th Century.

The Glaswegian accent is thought to be a particularly strong accent and has often been stigmatised, but the research shows that over the decades Glaswegian has changed.

Glasgow University
Glasgow University

Professor Jane Stuart-Smith, Director of the Glasgow University Laboratory of Phonetics (GULP) said:

“We were quite surprised by what we found. The assumption is that traditional dialects generally across the UK are being eroded and some are dying out altogether, but what we have learned particularly with the Glasgow accent is that Scots accents are actually flourishing.

“Interestingly, what is not happening in Scotland is the dilution of accents to a more homogenised anglicised accent on the scale that we are seeing in England, and in fact the Scots accent remains very distinctive.”

There are a couple of common changes that can be found across both Scottish and English accents. For example the sound ‘f’ being used instead of ‘th’ in words such as think and thought as well as not pronouncing the letter ‘l’ in people. The researchers claim that this is partially down to being watching TV shows that are set in London.

The project has also revealed that Scots have developed some changes that are unique to hear, such as vowels being pronounced in words like boat, goat and coat, or stop sounds that are pronounced in words like pin, top and cat.

The researchers expect these sounds to remain, becoming slightly closer to the English accents over time.

The Sounds of the City study has created an online resource focusing on language change, with audio recordings, activities and quizzes. The researchers hopes that it will be a useful resource for students in Modern Studies and language research projects, as well as a educational tool for schools teaching and researching the Scots language.