As the word suggests, this is the “centre” of England. Here we can distinguish between East Midlands and West Midlands. The most famous dialect is the one spoken in Birmingham, which is called BRUMMIE. Linguistic variation has diminished a lot in these areas and it now tends to reflect the standards of the RP, though with some differences:
1) The foot-strut merger: the “o” and the “u” in words like love or cup is pronounced like the “oo” in foot.
2) Absence of the Trap-Bath split: the split that we mentioned for the Southern accents is absent here. Words like “bath”, “dance” and “glass” are pronounced in the same way as “trap”.
3) The short “i” (live, fit) sounds similar to a longer “i-sound” (the one we find in leave or feet).
4) On top of that, some dialects still feature archaic elements. For instance in the West Midlands you could hear words like bin (meaning am, are) or ay (meaning isn’t).
This is the North-West of the country, where Manchester is. The dialect of Manchester is called MANCUNIAN or MANC and its vocabulary includes a lot of slang words or expressions that make it unique, a little bit like what we saw for Cockney. Newtons meaning teeth, mint meaning great; I’m not bothered becomes I’m not mithered; mother becomes mam (although this is a fairly common aspect in Lancashire). There is also a plural for you which is youse.
Some of the common features of this area are:
1) The foot-strut merger, like in the Midlands.
2) Absence of the Trap – Bath split, like in the Midlands.
3) In the dipthong “ai” in words like mine, fine the first sound is lengthened, so that mine sounds something like “maaain”.
4) In some areas and only for some words “r” is pronounced similarly to Italian .
SCOUSE is the name given to the distinctive Liverpool accent. In this accent the tongue is kind of drawn back and the final “k” (e.g.: back) is pronounced more towards the throat than standard English, producing a friction that slightly resembles Arabic or Spanish (think of the “j-sound” in words like juego).
YORKSHIRE is a very vast area of the North. Here, the is sometimes pronounced “t” and the initial “h” is dropped. Some archaic traits are still present, such as the word thou instead of your. To say anything and nothing people from this area say aught and naught. Another aspect of this accent can be noticed in words like Monday or mistake: in the dipthong “ei”, the second part is not pronounced, so those words sound like “mondee” or “misteek”.
It is the dialect spoken in the Newcastle-upon-Tyne area and, like the accents of the Midlands and the North, it features the foot-strut merger and the trap-bath split is absent. Some of its distinguishing features are:
1) In the “au” dipthong the first element is dropped, therefore the word town sounds something similar to “tun”.
2) The “ai” dipthong is raised to “ei”, so fine sounds sort of like “fein”.
3) The “oo” in book or cook is pronounced very far in the front of the mouth, like standard English “food”.
4) This dialect retains a lot of very old words, the most famous example being bairn for child.
6 thoughts on “British accents and dialects – the Midlands and the North of England”
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Cockney is probably the second most famous British accent. It originated in the East End of London, but shares many features with and influences other dialects in that region.
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