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MIND Your Languages is a language and cognition research lab focussing on the inclusion of speakers of Minority, Indigenous, Non-standard and Dialect varieties.

Based at Abertay University, Dundee, Scotland, the lab is led by Dr Neil Kirk.

Image of Dr Neil Kirk
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Did you know there are over 7000 languages used in the world?

The study of language and the brain, and the cognitive effects of being bilingual, is an ever-growing area of research. But some spoken varieties don't always get the status of "language" - because of social, historical, and political reasons rather than linguistic ones - so their speakers don't always get included in this research. 

Such varieties include "Scots", which perfectly encapsulates the blurred perceptions of what constitutes minority language, dialect, or even an informal register, and whose speakers might not be recognised as bilingual - even by themselves. 

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What is Scots?

Recognised by the European Charter for Regional and Minority Languages, Scots is an indigenous Germanic variety spoken by around 1.5 million speakers in Scotland

Scots and English share a common ancestor, but the status of these varieties has changed over the centuries.  While many identify Scots as a language in its own right, according to one Scottish Government report, 64% of respondents don't think of Scots as a language, but "just a way of speaking", while some regard it simply as talking "slang".

Thus, despite speaking a regional dialect of Scots such as Doric, Glaswegian, Dundonian, or Orcadian, many speakers might still think of themselves as monolingual English speakers. 

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and MIND Your Speakers.

Our previous research with Scots and English speakers indicates that the brain uses similar cognitive mechanisms to store and switch between them as bilinguals use for switching between two languages. Yet, if our speakers only think of themselves as speaking "English", what happens if we only ask them what "languages" they speak?

This isn't a situation that's unique to Scotland, so our mission statement is to keep in MIND and encourage others to include the speakers of Minority, Indigenous, Non-standard, Dialects and other varieties that might be forgotten about when researching language and the brain. 

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