The ‘Glaswegianism’ that solves a 400-year-old English language problem


Over the past few months we’ve taken a look at some of the sights of the Glasgow language, how we tend to talk to each other in the city, and how it is perceived by our counterparts (not so lucky) non-Glaswegians.

This includes a look at things like why we tend to end our sentences with but and say the letter J like “jai” (as opposed to “jay”) in the (in) famous accent “Glasgow United” to many sayings and phrases we use that seem to annoy the rest of Scotland.

Not to mention also the reasons why we should technically allow ourselves to be considered “bilingual” due to our ability to do what linguists call “dialect slippage” or “dialect skip” when we switch between Glasgow and Standard English.

Speaking of our dialect, it looks like we’re also doing something that effectively “solves” a problem with the English language that dates back centuries – that is, the inability to differentiate between the singular “you” and the plural. “You” when speaking to more than one person.

As we all know, we use the term “yous” or “yous” in cases like, “Do you all come to the pub too? “

A tweet shared by University of Edinburgh lecturer Tom Calvard under the caption “Glesga’s Pronoons” refers to an excerpt from an unnamed language book that highlights Glasgow’s particular solution.



A tweet shared by Tom Calvard, lecturer at the University of Edinburgh

It reads: “Amia Srinivasan writes that most English speakers have not distinguished between the second person singular and the plural ‘you’ since the 17th century.

“Glasgowians often say ‘yous’ in the plural for ‘you’, although they rarely do so when writing – out of decorum, I think. Its meaning is perfectly clear, however.”

So this is it !

It looks like our use of a distinct plural form for you has spread as well, with people in other parts of Scotland using it as well.

Fascinating things we think about!


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