Glaswegian Dialect

Glasgow is Scotland’s largest city, with a population of over 600,000 within its city limits, and over a million including the surrounding conurbation.   Glasgow is home to many languages, including an important Scottish Gaelic revival with two primary and one secondary Gaelic schools, and many heritage languages such as Italian, Panjabi, Urdu, Polish and Cantonese. Many people living in Glasgow regularly speak the Glaswegian version of Scottish Standard English in the workplace and at home (Glaswegian Standard English). But the majority of Glasgow’s population also speak Glaswegian, sometimes also called ‘Glasgow/Glaswegian dialect’ or ‘the vernacular’.

Glaswegian continues a form of West Central Scots, with additional influences from historical migrations from Ireland and the Highlands and Islands, and its own distinctive developments especially for vocabulary (e.g. gallus ‘cheeky’, ginger ‘(any) fizzy drink’). While Glaswegian is sometimes regarded as ‘slang’ or ‘bad language’, most Glaswegians are proud of their distinctive dialect (sometimes called ‘the Patter’ or ‘the Banter’), which is also represented in the media (e.g. comedy shows such as Chewin’ the Fat, River City).

Our study for the Sounds of the City project is all about how Glaswegian has changed over the 20th century. We are now carrying out a new study to look at change in Scottish Standard English spoken in Glasgow, funded by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland. You can find out much more about Glaswegian if you study English Language at Glasgow University.

For more links and references about Glaswegian, click here