Ey up! Do we all talk differently in Greater Manchester?

Is it a bap, a bread roll or a barm cake? Do you say ginnel or alleyway?

A team of researchers might not answer those important questions, but they will be able to tell us more about voices in Greater Manchester.

The researchers, from Manchester Metropolitan University, are looking into the effect of age, gender and ethnicity on the strength of accents in the ten boroughs.

While the project planned to use an ‘Accent Van’, they have had to adapt during the pandemic by moving online; including the latest step, a directional map for participants to record their voice.

The map includes an ice-skating bear and a dancing monkey and can be found, recorded and submitted online to help researchers.

According to Dr Rob Drummond, this map is deliberately bizarre: “We have lots of unusual objects within this map and these are specifically chosen and designed to elicit particular words and particular sounds which we think are going to be important in studying variation between the ten boroughs.”

Dr Rob Drummond (Image taken from Zoom).

Credit: Hazel Dann – https://www.manchestervoices.org/submit-your-voice/

Despite being just under 500 square miles in area, Dr Drummond, a Reader of Linguistics, recognises that the history of the boroughs makes them all individually interesting for the study.

He added: “So there is this idea of Greater Manchester as this political, ideological and geographical construct.

“But it is whether people actually feel part of that which is quite an important part of our research because we’re looking at the way language interacts with identity.”

The project also asks participants to draw a map showing their thoughts on different regions and their accents. The map asks for participants to give their judgements on what kind of accent the different regions have.

Credit: Manchester Voices – https://www.manchestervoices.org/

The researchers are encouraging all people in the region to get involved, and to try to encourage others to take part.

The study by Dr Drummond, Dr Erin Carrie, Dr Sadie Ryan and Dr Holly Dann will not be finished for a while yet, as they plan to take the Accent Van on tour in Spring 2021 before its installation in two Manchester libraries in 2022.

However to help them with your voice, the map and all other information can be found on their website: https://www.manchestervoices.org/

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