Varieties of English

Dr Bert Vaux

See this course profiled on the PKP blog!

PsychologyThough it often seems that Standard American English is taking over the world thanks to the insidious influence of Hollywood and the internet, the range of traditional and new varieties of English to be found across the world is actually stunning in its structural and geographic diversity. In this course we examine the range of regional and social varieties of English, taking advantage of our location in the historical heartland of the language and its accents and dialects to work with native speakers in Edinburgh, London, Cambridge, and hopefully elsewhere as well. We will also make use of the Instructor’s extensive research on North American and pidgin/creole varieties of English, learn some of the tools employed in the scientific study of language, and debunk prevalent myths about connections between dialect and intelligence, geography, race, and gender.

This course is aimed at: Students from any discipline.

Pre-requisite knowledge: None.

Transferable knowledge and Skills: Knowledge of transcription techniques, how to work with informants, and how to identify and compare distinctive attributes of individuals and groups.


Please refer to the syllabus for a detailed list of readings arranged by lecture/seminar. Also note that readings must be completed by the time of the lecture for which they are listed.

  • Crystal, David. 2003. The Cambridge Encyclopedia of the English Language, second edition. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Trudgill, Peter and Jean Hannah. 2002. International English: A guide to the varieties of Standard English (fourth edition). Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  • Wells, John. 1981. Accents of English (3 volumes). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.


1 Final Essay: 50%

1 Final Exam: 50%

Lecture Hours: 12 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 15 hours)

Seminar Hours: 8 x 1 hour 15 minutes (total 10 hours)