Northern accents becoming more similar across major cities
Northern accents are becoming more similar as the number of educated city-dwellers rises, according to research.
Linguistic experts from the University of Manchester found evidence of a “general northern English” accent being spoken among middle-class northerners living in urban areas.
Analysis of the speech patterns of people from major cities in the north of England, conducted using machine learning, found it difficult to distinguish between the accents of people from Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.
There were still some differences between cities – Liverpool and Newcastle in particular were found to be more distinct – but researchers found that the way in which the accents differ has changed.
Some traditional features of the dialect were not present, but there were distinctive northern features in the use of short vowels in words like “glass” and “bath”, and pronouncing “crux” like “crooks”.
Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk, who worked on the research, said: “I often hear statements like ‘I’m from Liverpool or Manchester or Sheffield, but I don’t have the accent’ – however, there is very little systematic evidence that general northern English really is a coherent variety, so that’s the question we asked ourselves.
”It may seem as though local accents are dying out, but we believe we’re actually seeing a new variety becoming established – educated, urban and northern.
“I think its prestige has increased, and people are now less tempted to lose their accent if they’ve been to university or they do a lot of public speaking.
“The question is whether general northern English also has the same status for those who don’t speak it – can a speaker be perceived as standard in London? I don’t think we’re there yet, but the shifting attitudes in the north are a first step.”