– the results are in!

In 2022, staff from the University of Leeds embarked on a new linguistic adventure. Inspired by the team who produced the Survey of English Dialects over 50 years ago, Professor Fiona Douglas and Dr Rosemary Hall decided to bring this important research bang up to date with a new study – the Great Big Dialect Hunt survey.




The original Survey selected informants from rural areas across England and its borders. Men were the preferred candidates, as they were thought to be less likely to alter their speech in order to impress. This time, we changed the rules and invited everyone to contribute to our survey to help us find out what has changed in the words we use and where we use them, and what has stayed the same.

Within 24 hours of its launch, 1,197 online responses to the Great Big Dialect Hunt had been received, and over 10,500 responses (and counting) have been contributed to date. This far exceeded our original target of 1,500! The majority of our respondents (90%) came from England, with 10% responding from Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland (5.1%) and overseas (4.9%). Our participants range in age from under 11 to over 85 years old and, in a direct contrast to the original Survey, the majority of respondents are female.

We divided our questions into five separate themed areas: Food, glorious food; Child’s play; Our wonderful world; Making friends and enemies; and Make do and mend. Click on each of these headings below to find out more about our dialects today, through a summary of the key findings, accompanied by fascinating word heat maps that show where particular words are most commonly used.

(If you haven’t already completed our survey, there’s still time to do so, and the link may be found here).