Understanding UK accents: Manchester and Mancunian

The British accent can be a confusing one to understand, particularly as it varies so much depending on where you are in the country. If you're as bemused as we are by some of our friends from across the pond then this is the post for you. We're taking a look at some of the most popular cities in the United Kingdom and the accents you might hear there. This time it's the turn of Manchester and the Mancunian accent. Are you ready?

 

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Manchester

Seen by some as the capital city of the north, Manchester is a major UK city, home to around 550,000 in the city itself and 3.3 million in the metropolitan Manchester area. It has an international airport and two train stations, and is connected to the UK's motorway network via the M60. Manchester is renowned for its great nights out and music scene, and rivals many a major city for its Christmas lights spectacle.

 

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Stereotyping

In the great North/South divide, many with Southern accents look down upon Northern ones such as Manchester. This is even true in Manchester itself in a way! Manchester Metropolitan University conducted a survey on accent perception throughout the Manchester metropolitan area, finding that the vast majority of variations in the Mancunian accent stereotype the people speaking them as rough, common, or poor - aside from the in the very south of the metropolitan area, where the accent is considered posh and well-spoken. You can see the map for yourself here.

 

Photo via Wikimedia

 

Famous Mancunians

If you're looking for a celebrity upon which to base your accent, Manchester will leave you a little spoilt for choice. Max Beesley, actor and musician, Nick Grimshaw, a popular radio presenter, and Karl Pilkington of An Idiot Abroad fame are all from Manchester. You might also have heard of a little band called Oasis, fronted by the ever-so-polite Gallagher brothers...

 

Some accent samples

If you want to hear the Manchester accent for yourself just to get it clear in your head before you attempt to imitate it, try one of these. The Voices series on the BBC website promises that you'll learn Mancunian in ten minutes, while this Youtube video helps differentiate the Mancunian accent from the so-called Queens English. Which do you prefer the sound of?

 

Photo via Wikipedia

 

A cultural influence...

Some Mancunians will tell you that the Mancunian accent formed the basis of much of a subconscious shift in the way the UK generally speaks. This is thanks to Oasis, Joy Division, The Stone Roses, and beyond music, the popular UK soap Coronation Street.

 

Notable differences

The Manchester accent rhymes words like but with put, and tends to use an over-enunciation of all vowel sounds. And since vowel sounds tend to be somewhat flattened, or backed, this changes the way words sound when they end from how they sound in other parts of the UK. Think of the word happy; the Y sound for Mancunians sounds more like the E in stress. One other noticeable difference for Mancunian is the emphasis of the NG sound; words singer and finger rhyme perfectly in Manchester! Also, forget the letter T almost altogether if it's in the middle of the word, like better; pronounce both syllables like the T is still there but just don't voice the T. Simple enough?

 

A little lingo

If you truly want to blend in, once you've perfected the slight variances in accent, its time to learn a few words and phrases that are particular to Manchester.

Dead means very or extremely, as in that's dead good, that. Excellent becomes nice one, and greatmintGood is, of course, soundTantrums are strops, and crying is scrikin'. The word cock is a term of endearment, like mate or dear (we promise! Just... tread carefully!). You're more likely to hear now then as a greeting than hello, and a bessie is a best mate you're likely to say this to when you meet up ready for a night out (that you might be mad fer - very eager about!)

To us, the Manchester accent feels homely, and welcoming; what do you think? If you're studying British English can you tell the Mancunian accent from others? If not and the accents are confusing, why not consider getting in touch?  Our native speaking tutors can design a course specific to your needs? Drop us a quick inquiry today!