What does the Manchester accent say about you?

Manchester accent and dialogue map Credit: MMU

It's one of the most distinctive accents in the country but what do Mancunians make of the Manchester accent?

That was the question that sociolinguists at Manchester Metropolitan University set out to answer, and in doing so have created the city’s first “accent and dialect map”.

Dr Erin Carrie and Dr Rob Drummond asked their final-year students to carry out a “perceptual dialectology” project – a type of study that asks non-experts to identify accents and dialects and give their opinions about them.

Participants were asked to draw borders on a blank map of Manchester to show areas where they thought people spoke differently from others and to provide words to describe the accents and dialects of each area that they had identified.

Dr Rob Drummond said:

The key outcome of this project is a map of Manchester showing five clear dialect areas, with words characterising each.

"The findings suggest that perceptions of accents and dialects in the city are closely linked with social stereotypes about the people who speak them, and several of the words that were provided appear to be descriptions of people or areas rather than accents or dialects."

“It is important to note that the dialect areas and descriptions shown on the map are the collective impressions of the people of Manchester themselves and not those of language experts who often have less direct knowledge and experience of the local area.

– Dr Rob Drummond, Lecturer in Linguistics Manchester Metropolitan University