Final word on what we say across Gradely Manchester
IT is a debate which has gripped Greater Manchester for decades: how exactly do you pronounce the word ‘Bury’?
And a team of language experts have found it is just one of dozens of words pronounced differently by residents living just a few miles apart.
From Wigan to Middleton, linguists from Manchester Metropolitan University have spent months interviewing dozens of people to record how they pronounce words and also collect expressions and phrases which are unique to the region’s towns, villages and districts.
From ‘ barm’ in Manchester, ‘lickle’ in Bolton, ‘cruckled’ in Rochdale and ‘areet’ in Wigan, there’s more than meets the ear to the Greater Manchester accent.
Last summer, sociolinguists Dr Erin Carrie and Dr Rob Drummond began their tour of the entire city-region in an ‘Accent Van’ to recorded more than 100 interviews with people on how they speak.
Forget the ‘Manc’ twang commonly associated with the Gallagher brothers; residents told researchers that it is stereotypical and not reflective of the rich tapestry of voices across the region.
And the researchers uncovered dozens of words which were unique not just to Greater Manchester - but often to particular cities and towns.
Gradely (nice or good) was most heard in Tameside, as was ginnel-gaggle (alley), but skriking (crying) and thessle (fireplace) was heard in Oldham.
However, pride in their regional accent was one thing that everyone had in common, researchers said. Dr Carrie said: “People seem to be reclaiming words that have been used negatively in the past.
“For example a girl in Rochdale said that she felt her accent was com- mon and broad, but she was really proud of it. “So that sense of taking pride in it even if some people might see it negatively came through.” P ronu n c i a t i o n was another recurring issue - with people often taking great pride in how they enunciated particular words. Describing the pronunciation of the Lancashire town, Dr Drummond said: “There’s a woman from Bury swearing categorically that it’s not Bury (to rhyme with cherry) but it’s Bury (with a more pronounced ‘u’ than flurry).
“You can still be a northerner and still say Bury (to rhyme with curry),” he explains.
Some people even exaggerate their accent depending on where they are, the study found.
“Some people would be down south and they found themselves strengthening and making themselves more broad,” says Dr Drummond.
“And another woman from Bolton said she went to London and went swimming and she said: ‘ Two fer’t baths.’ They didn’t understand her, and she said ‘ TWO FER’T BATHS’ – she wouldn’t adapt it at all – she knew what she wanted to say.”
The researchers are now showing off their findings in a new exhibition which launched last week in Manchester.
The Manchester Voices display will be running at Manchester’s Central Library from today until Thursday, August 31.
To follow future developments and to find out how you can add your own voice to the study, visit manchestervoices. org.
Dr Erin Carrie and Dr Rob Drummond have been investigating different dialects in Greater Manchester