English Language

What is English Language?

English Language at Glasgow, linked closely to our programmes in English and Scottish Literature, covers four aspects of English studies: modern English language, the history of English, medieval English literature and – since we are a leading Scottish university — the study of Scots.  If you want to read ‘English’ at Glasgow, you should certainly consider taking English Language as part of your curriculum.

  • Is it really true that teenagers say ‘like’ all the time in conversation?
  • And what about ‘fink’ instead of ‘think’?
  • Why is Smith the most common name in England and Scotland?
  • When and why did speakers stop saying ‘hath’ and ‘goeth’ and start saying ‘has’ and ‘goes’?
  • What did Chaucer and Shakespeare sound like?
  • Why do some Scots say ‘hoose’ and others say ‘house’?
  • Why has English become a global language?
  • What kinds of English literature survive from the Middle Ages?

These are just some of the questions you will be able to answer if you choose to study English Language at the University of Glasgow.

In the English Language programme, we aim to cover all aspects of the discipline, including:

  • what words and sentences mean (semantics)
  • how words are formed (lexicology)
  • how words are organised into larger structures (grammar and discourse studies)
  • how language relates to the society we live in (language and culture, sociolinguistics)
  • how language is used in literature (stylistics)
  • how language is pronounced (phonetics and phonology)
  • how language is written (orthography and graphology)
  • how names arise and what they mean (onomastics)
  • how dictionaries and thesauruses work (lexicography)
  • how and why English has changed in the last 1500 years (historical linguistics)
  • what kind of literature survives from the medieval period (Old and Middle English literature)
  • how medieval literature is transmitted (study of manuscripts and early printed books)

We study these subjects not only with reference to present-day English but also in relation to the history of the English language. We also offer a distinctive set of courses on Scots.

We believe our coverage of English Language is amongst the most comprehensive in the UK. This, coupled with our friendly hands-on approach to teaching makes our programme a very attractive choice.

If you are interested in our programme, you are very welcome to attend one of the University’s or College’s Open Days. Alternatively, we are always happy to receive informal visitors. For an appointment, or to discuss particular issues, please contact the Head of English Language, University of Glasgow, Glasgow G12 8QQ (Jeremy.Smith@glasgow.ac.uk).