Northern English and Scots,
Phonology and Syntax

This website hosts materials from the small research project
Northern English and Scots, Phonology and Syntax
carried out in 2009 and funded by the British Academy.
Project team
Isabelle Buchstaller
Karen Corrigan
Anders Holmberg
[Newcastle University]
Patrick Honeybone
Warren Maguire
April McMahon
[University of Edinburgh]

Northern English and Scots, Phonology and Syntax project (NESPS) investigated two well-known (but still quite poorly understood) features/variables of Northern English and Scots (the 'Northern Subject Rule' and 'T-to-R'), trialing a methodology which aims to offer a means to discover the structural patterning of geolinguistically restricted linguistic features, in a sociolinguistically balanced sample of speakers. The project lasted from February to December 2009, with fieldwork carried out during the summer; the fieldworkers/data-collectors/transcribers were WIll Barras, Laura Steventon, Marleen Spaargaren and Jonathan Burrows.

Eight informants were interviewed in two localities, one in South-East Scotland
(Hawick) and one in North-East England (Newcastle upon Tyne). A simple sociolinguistically-balanced sample of speakers were interviewed in both places: two 'younger' females, two 'younger' males, two 'older' females and two 'older' males. 'Younger' was interpreted as between 15-25 years old and 'older' was interpreted as 55+. Informants were interviewed in pairs. The project's main investigative tool is a set of questionnaires which indirectly probe speakers' intuitions about the precise patterning of the linguistic features. We used four questionnaires: 'Phon1' probed speakers' intuitions about a number of dialectally interesting phonological contrasts and other phonological features, such as rhoticity (part of the the point of this was to set informants at ease, as we were confident that they would be able to relate to at least some of the questions/features that were included - the results from this interact with Warren Maguire's Survey of Accents of English in Britain and Ireland), 'Phon2' probed speakers' intuitions about 'T-to-R', and both 'Syntax1' and 'Syntax2' probed speakers' intuitions about the Northern Subject Rule (this was split into two questionnaires because so many intricate features needed to be tested). The results of Phon2, Syntax1 and Syntax2 are reported in the article described below. We also recorded a strech of free speech from the informants, partly in order to provide a sociolinguistically-balanced record of the varieties that we investigated, and also with the long-term aim of comparing speakers' perceptions of the linguistic features that we focused on (accessed through the questionnaires) with how they pattern in their production.

This website hosts the following materials from the NESPS project:
[] Using questionnaires to investigate non-standard dialects (a brief description of the methodology used in the project, aimed at school students) [download]

[] the guidance that was given to fieldworkers and an example of the questionnaire material [guidance for data collectors] [Phon1: questionnaire for T-to-R
[] extracts from the audio files which were recorded during the free speech section of the fieldwork [below]

The main record of the NESPS project and its results is the following article:
[] Buchstaller, Isabelle, Karen Corrigan, Anders Homberg, Patrick Honeybone & Warren Maguire (2013) 'T-to-R and the Northern Subject Rule: questionnaire-based spatial, social and structural linguistics.' To appear in English Language and Linguistics 17, 85-128. [download a copy]

Results were also presented at
[] the Seventh UK Language Variation and Change Conference
[] the Borders and Identities conference
[] the 4th Northern Englishes Workshop

NESPS sound recordings

The sound files provided here are recordings made in Hawick and Newcastle upon Tyne in 2009 as part of the NESPS project. They are taken from the free conversation which was recorded as part of the fieldwork session. Informants were recorded in aged-matched pairs, as described above. The recordings are the second five minutes of the conversation - the first five minutes was omitted, in line with common practice, to allow the speakers to settle into the situation, so that their speech might be more natural. The recordings are in mp3 format, which should play on all media players.

bullet Hawick older speakers 1 [sound] [transcript]
bullet Hawick older speakers 2 [sound] [transcript]
bullet Hawick younger speakers 1 [sound] [transcript]
bullet Hawick younger speakers 2 [sound] [transcript]

bullet Newcastle older speakers 1 [sound] [transcript] 
bullet Newcastle older speakers 2 [sound] [transcript]
bullet Newcastle younger speakers 1 [sound] [transcript]
bullet Newcastle younger speakers 2 [sound] [transcript]

All the materials on this website are made available free of charge, but are copyrighted and may only be used for the purposes of teaching and research. They may not be copied, further distributed or sold in any form. 

The website is hosted by the
Department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh.
Responsible for this website: Patrick Honeybone (
Originally created in 2010