Scotland's biggest city accounts for the largest number of Gaelic speakers outside the Western Isles – and now, it seems, Glasgow's gaels are adapting the language to their local accent.

About 6,500 people, or 10 per cent of the 65,000 Gaelic speaking population, have made their home in the city.

English-born linguistics expert Dr Claire Nance — who learned the language from scratch – has made the discovery after spending four years examining the nuances of the language.

She looked at how the language is spoken in among old and young people living in the Hebrides compared to young speakers in Glasgow who have learned it as a second language or use it with one of their parents at home.

Dr Nance, who completed her doctoral thesis in Gaelic and phonetics in Glasgow and now lecturers at Lancaster University, wanted to discover if there was a "Glasgow kind of Gaelic.

So she investigated teenagers who had learned to speak it in Glasgow and comparing them to 12 young people in Lewis, and 12 older people from Lewis who had grown up in a Gaelic-dominant environment.

She said: "I was really interested in whether you could talk about a 'Glasgow' kind of Gaelic that's different from a Hebridean variety, so I interviewed all these people and I also got them to read out a list of words so that I could look at individual sounds.

"Then, for the analysis, I looked at 'L' sounds because there are three 'L' sounds in Gaelic. I measured people saying the three 'Ls' and I looked at their vowels and intonation as well.

"Listening to Glasgow people, they have quite a specific intonation and they sort of go up at the end of a phrase, but that's not traditional for Gaelic. But I found that people from Glasgow who speak Gaelic do use this Glaswegian intonation.

"Also, some of the people in Glasgow only did the one 'L' sound - they didn't do the three different ones that Gaelic traditionally has.

"And the 'Ls' tended to be more of a Glaswegian L compared to what's traditional for Hebridean Gaelic, or Hebridean English as well."

Dr Nance, originally from Stockport in south Manchester, learned Gaelic during the first year of her PhD.

She also speaks French, Greek, German and Breton - a Celtic language native to the far north-west of France which is closely related to Welsh - but said she was intrigued by Gaelic.

She said: "There's so much going on. I work in phonetics and Gaelic is very different from English in terms of phonetics and phonology so it's just really interesting to work on.

"I really like the interaction between the linguistic detail and the social context, so the context of bilingualism and the political situation in Scotland and how that interacts with the language - I just find it completely fascinating."

Gaelic was given "parity of esteem" under the Labour-led Scottish Executive in 2005 in a move that has paved the way to bilingual road and railway signs and a push to raise its status and profile, particularly through more practical opportunities for learning and using the language.

Gaelic-medium education has also exploded. In 2012/13 more than 3000 pupils were receiving GME in Scotland, compared to just 24 in 1985.

Dr Nance said the traits emerging in Glasgow Gaelic could currently best be described as an "accent" rather than a dialect, which would take generations to develop.

However, she said some Hebridean Gaelic speakers had been surprised by her findings.

She said: "There's sometimes an assumption that if teachers are from the islands the students are going to come out sounding like they're from the islands, so I think some people were surprised.

"I interpreted my findings in a positive way in that Gaelic is being adapted and used for different purposes and for different reasons and in different places. And the world has changed - the future of Scotland is multilingual rather than monolingual so Gaelic is changing and adapting to reflect this.

"So it's great that Gaelic is being used in a bilingual and slightly different way - that's the interesting development for me."