Linguistics and English Language


Research in phonetics and phonology at Edinburgh has long roots in several areas

Edinburgh was the second university in the UK, and the first in Scotland, to establish a phonetics department, led from 1948 by David Abercrombie. This was the first department in Europe to acquire a sound spectrograph, and established an enduring tradition of laboratory- and applications-based research into linguistic questions.

Edinburgh also became the second UK university to create a chair of Linguistics when Angus McIntosh was appointed professor of English Language and General Linguistics in 1948. He established an equally enduring ‘English Language’ tradition of research into phonological dialectology and historical phonology. Work on the acquisition of phonology has roots in the School of Applied Linguistics (the UK’s first), founded by Ian Catford in 1957.

Subsequent departmental mergers and splits led to research in phonetics and phonology being carried out in a number of units in the university. The Centre for Speech Technology Research was established in 1984, in part by researchers in linguistics and phonetics.

Phonological theory was developed in the departments of Linguistics and of English Language, where Dependency Phonology was developed during the representational phonology boom of the 1980s. In 2005, the current department of Linguistics and English Language was established, uniting many of these strands in one unit. Current work continues all these traditions, and adds to them.