Survey Reveals Breadth of Languages in Govanhill

A survey conducted under the Thriving Places* programme has set about counting the languages spoken in Govanhill, the most ethnically diverse area in Scotland.

As much as the presence of English, Urdu, Punjabi, Romanian, Slovak, Scottish and Irish Gaelic is common knowledge, not everyone will be aware that Nepali, Vietnamese, Ishan, Sinhalese, and Tibetan are also spoken in the neighbourhood. It turns out Govanhill is abundant in polyglots. Out of 222 responders, 182 said they spoke at least two languages, and quite a few were comfortable using 4 or even 5. 

Pie chart showing the wide range of ‘mother toungues’ in Govanhill – there may well be more out there!

People were also asked if they knew how to say ‘Hi’ in some of their neighbours’ languages, the majority said they did and that they were interested in learning more.

The most popular languages that people wanted to learn were BSL, Spanish, Arabic and Romanes (Roma).

So far, 222 people have taken part.  79.4% of participants said they live here and further 3.5% used to live here, some for many years. The remainder stated they work in the area or socialise here. Residents are encouraged to keep adding their languages. The survey remains open and can be completed here:

Based on The Languages of Govanhill survey, the records of GCDT and some of the local schools, it turns out there are at least 88 languages and dialects spoken in Govanhill. As more people fill in the survey, this number is bound to increase. Contact Marzanna Antoniak at with questions about the survey or if you want to participate in any language-based projects in Govanhill. 

The survey was conducted as part of a heritage-based regeneration strategy for the neighbourhood that is being developed. Such an impressive language tally is a reason to celebrate. Enjoy reading survey participants’ reflections about Govanhill being a multilingual place. 

*The Thriving Places approach proposes that local “organisations commit to working more collaboratively with one another and the community to make better use of existing resources and assets to respond to each individual community’s needs.” Locally, Govanhill Housing Association is the anchor organisation responsible for leading and implementing the Thriving Places strategy working with Govanhill Community Development Trust (GCDT).