Linguistics and English Language

Edinburgh Speaks

Looking at variation in speech and language use in Edinburgh

Edinburgh is very diverse when it comes to its speech and language use. While some say they can recognise and even imitate an accent that they call 'Edinburgh English', the truth is that there are many people born, raised, and living in Edinburgh who don't necessarily speak in that way. Some might would say that they speak 'Scottish' or 'Scots', not 'English'. Some would say that they speak 'Scottish English'. Others might describe their speech as 'British English'.

Regardless of what we call the way we talk, the people of Edinburgh come from a wide array of different backgrounds and experiences, and these have shaped the way they use language. It's that very diversity that we aim to document, describe, and analyse in this project.

In this project we are asking the following questions, among others:

  • When a child is raised in Edinburgh, what factors predict what accent or dialect that child will grow up with? Do dialects (differences in words and grammar) vary the same way accents do?
  • What features distinguish Edinburgh from Glasgow? From Fife? from Musselburgh? How have those features changed over time?
  • Do different Edinburgh neighbourhoods have distinct ways of speaking?
  • How do people in Edinburgh describe the way they speak? How many different definitions are there, and why?


The team behind Edinburgh Speaks are all members of the language variation and change research group.

Language variation and change research group

Related projects

This project is based in Linguistics and English Language, in the School of Psychology, Philosophy, and Language Sciences (College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences).

Related projects include: