Manchester study finds the region's accents are going strong

The Manchester Skyline as seen from The Edge at Alderley Edge, Cheshire Credit: Press Association.

A new study of the Mancunian accent has looked at the number and range of dialects across the ten boroughs.

While the famous ‘Manc’ twang most commonly associated with the Gallagher brothers is heard in central Manchester and Salford, many feel it is stereotypical and not reflective of the rich tapestry of voices across the region.

Manchester Metropolitan University sociolinguists Dr Erin Carrie and Dr Rob Drummond from Manchester Metropolitan travelled the entire city-region in their ‘Accent Van’ and recorded over 100 interviews with people on how they speak, their local area, and what it means to be part of Greater Manchester.

They've now created an interactive online ‘dialect map’ of Greater Manchester residents with accents pinned to a specific place.

Greater Manchester dialect map Credit: Manchester Metropolitan University.

“Our findings show that despite variation in dialect and accent, people in the city-region are bound together by their strong Northern identity.

Dr Erin Carrie

Their work, called Manchester Voices, will be subject to a new exhibition at Manchester Central Library.

It opens on Thursday looks at the ways in which our use of language makes us who we are and explores perceptions of the way people speak across the region.

Visitors to the exhibition will experience an interactive display of the findings of the project so far and can explore a collection of video clips, dialect maps and books relating to local accents and dialects.

The research indicates that Northern boroughs of Greater Manchester identify strongly with the traditional county of Lancashire, north-eastern boroughs express an affinity with Yorkshire, and southern boroughs associate with the county of Cheshire.

There are mixed feelings about the term 'Greater Manchester'. Many participants feel that it represents their sense of belonging to a larger collective, but some are resistant to its use, seeing it as a purely administrative term.

These people tend to identify more with ‘Lancashire’ or simply ‘Manchester’. Overall, there is a strong identification with the working-class, industrial north.

Linguistically, there are some differences from region to region: e.g., 'barm' in the central boroughs, 'lickle' in Bolton, 'skriking' in Oldham, 'cruckled' in Rochdale and 'areet' in Wigan.

There are also many linguistic features that are shared across the city-region, including the pronunciation of 'bus' and 'bath', and terms such as 'angin'', 'ginnel' and 'our kid'.

There is also no sign of these types of language dying out.

MMU's Accent Van at Media City. Credit: Manchester Metropolitan University.

“What’s particularly clear to us is that there is more than one Greater Manchester dialect, and more than one associated identity.

Dr Rob Drummond