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Northern accents are becoming more similar, researchers say | UK News

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Northerners’ accents are becoming more similar and increasingly “generic”, according to new research.

With the exception of people from Liverpool and Newcastle, the accents of well-educated city dwellers are merging, researchers from the University of Manchester believe.

Experts analysed the speech patterns of people from major cities across the North of England and found that algorithms struggled to distinguish between the accents of people from Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield.

However, accents from Liverpool and Newcastle were more distinct.

People from Liverpool speak with one of the UK's most distinctive accents
Image:
People from Liverpool speak with one of the UK’s most distinctive accents

The study also analysed how people pronounced vowels, and compared this with how northerners from different areas have traditionally spoken.

It found some features of regional dialects were no longer present, but speakers did still sound distinctly northern.

For example, they still used short vowels in words like “glass” and pronounced “crux” the same as “crooks”.

The researchers said this does not mean regional accents are disappearing, as there were some subtle differences between vowels in different cities that were previously unknown.

Instead, the way they differ has changed.

The study says Newcastle is another exception when it comes to distinctive northern accents
Image:
The study says Newcastle is another exception when it comes to distinctive northern accents

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“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,” said linguistics expert Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk.

“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.”

Many highly educated people in the North kept at least some northern vowels in their speech, the analysis found.

Dr Strycharczuk said that while attitudes are changing in the North, there are still questions as to whether northern accents have the same status in other areas of the country.

“I don’t think we’re there yet, but the shifting attitudes in the North are a first step,” she said.

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