Professor Robert McColl Millar
MA (Glasg.), PhD (Lond)
Robert McColl Millar is Professor in Linguistics and Scottish Language. He has published widely on the interface between Gaelic and Scots in Northern Scots, lexical attrition in Modern Scots, rapid language change and its connection with attitudes in modern Scotland, language policy towards Scots, the connection between language standardisation and the development of the nation state and the sociology of language. His books include
System Collapse, System Rebirth: The Demonstrative Systems of English 900-1350 and the Birth of the Definite Article (Peter Lang, 2000)
Language, Nation and Power (2005)
Northern and Insular Scots, (2007)
Authority and Identity: a Sociolinguistic History of Europe before the Modern Age (2010)
English Historical Sociolinguistics (2012)
Variation and Attrition in the Scottish Fishing Communities, with William Barras and Lisa Marie Bonnici (2014)
Contact: The Interaction of Closely Related Linguistic Varieties and the History of English (2016)
Modern Scots: an analytical survey (2018)
A Sociolinguistic History of Scotland (2020)
The Oxford History of the Scots language (contracted to Oxford University Press)
He is Editor of Scottish Language, a member of the editorial board of English World-Wide, of the Steering Committee of the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh and a trustee of Scots Language Dictionaries. He is also series editor for a refereed online series, Publications of the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster. If you would like to propose a volume, please get in touch with him at the e-mail address above. He was Chair of the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster from 2009 to 2017.
Over the last fifteen years, Professor Millar has supervised almost 25 successful doctoral theses, ranging from language teaching, through language contact to the use of language in eighteenth century Scotland.
Memberships and Affiliations
- Internal Memberships
Robert McColl Millar coordinates research in Language and Linguistics.
- External Memberships
Robert McColl Millar is the Editor of the Chair of the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster's innovative on-line Publications series. He is also Editor of Scottish Language. He was Chair of the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster from 2009 to 2017.
He is a member of the editorial board of English World-Wide, a trustee of Scottish Language Dictionaries and a member of the board of the Angus McIntosh Centre for Historical Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh.
Doric: the Scots dialect spoken by the Queen – what it sounds like and where it comes fromThe ConversationContributions to Specialist Publications: Articles
Reviewing difintional ambiguities and significance of text authenticity in english language teachingHumanities and Social Sciences Reviews, vol. 8, no. 4, pp. 1-9Contributions to Journals: Review articles
A Sociolinguistic History of ScotlandEdinburgh University Press, Edinburgh. 260 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
Contact in the History of EnglishHandbook of Language Contact. Hickey, R. (ed.). Wiley-BlackwellChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Modern Scots: an analytical surveyEdinburgh University Press, EdinburghBooks and Reports: Books
A complete record of Millar's publications can be found here.
Professor Millar has a long-standing interest in the ways in which the languages of Europe have gained full literate expression. He is also continuing work on close-relative contact, reassessing his discussion of the development of Shetland Scots.
From 2008-11 he was principal investigator for a major grant from the Arts and Humanities Research Council for aproject to investigate lexical change in the dialects of the Scottish fishing communities. The first book related to this project, Variation and Attrition in the Scottish Fishing Communities, was published in May 2014.
He has also been working on the language of letters to and from convicts transported to New South Wales in the first half of the nineteenth century. The corpus is comprised of letters to and from Thomas Holden and from Richard Taylor.
In 2007 he was asked to write an introduction to a new printing of Hugh Marwick's Orkney Norn. This publication now appears to have been abandoned, so the introduction is available here.
In late May 2018 he gave a lecture entitled Scots as a Sociolinguistic Entity at the University of Giessen. The attached represents some suggested references and readings.
In this document can be found a full transcription and translation of 'Donald's letter', as discussed in A Sociolinguistic History of Scotland.
Robert McColl Millar will teach on the following courses in Half Session 1 of 2020-2021:
LN2008 Language in Society
LN3013 Language Change: Linguistic and Sociolinguistic Approaches
LN4004 Language Contact and Change in Language
LN4012 Dissertation in Language and Linguistics.
During the teaching term (beginning 28 September), he will be available on Mondays and Thursdays between 0900 and 1600
To find out his availability at a particular time, please consult
If you sign up for a time there, he will then respond with an invitation to a virtual meeting.
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Social History and the Sociology of LanguageThe Handbook Of Historical Sociolinguistics. Hernández-Campoy, J. M., Conde-Silvestre, J. C. (eds.). Wiley-Blackwell, pp. 41-60, 20 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
After the Storm: Papers from the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster triennial meeting, Aberdeen 2012Vol. 4, Publications of the Forum for Research on the Languages of Scotland and Ulster. 298 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
Applied Linguistics, Global and Local: Proceedings of the 43rd Annual Meeting of the British Association for Applied Linguistics, 9-11 September 2010, University of AberdeenScitsiugnil Press, London. 417 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
Linguistic democracy?Sustaining Minority Language Connubities. Kirk, J., O Baoill, D. (eds.). Cló Ollscoil na Banríona, pp. 218-224, 7 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Northern Light, Northern Words: Selected Papers from the FRLSU Conference, Kirkwall 2009University of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. 219 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
Linguistic marginality in Scotland: Scots and the Celtic languagesMarginal Dialects. Millar, R. M. (ed.). University of Aberdeen, pp. 5-17, 13 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
Marginal Dialects: Scotland, Ireland and BeyondUniversity of Aberdeen, Aberdeen, United Kingdom. 222 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
Authority and identity: a sociolinguistic history of Europe before the modern agePalgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke, United Kingdom. 247 pagesBooks and Reports: Books
An historical national identity?: the case of ScotsLanguage and Identities. Watt, D., Llamas, C. (eds.). Edinburgh University Press, pp. 247-256, 10 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters
The Origins of the Northern Scots DialectsStudies in English and European Historical Dialectology. Dossena, M., Lass, R. (eds.). 1 edition. Peter Lang Pub., pp. 191-208, 18 pagesChapters in Books, Reports and Conference Proceedings: Chapters