Northern England English

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Northern England English (usually called Northern English in the United Kingdom) is a group of dialects of the English language found in Northern England. It includes the North East England dialects, Cumbrian (with a Westmorland sub-set in South Lakeland and a limited sub-set around the Barrow-in-Furness area), the various Yorkshire dialects and Lancashire (increasingly but incorrectly referred to as 'Lanky'[citation needed]).

Some words occurring in 'far' Northern accents (Lonning (a Lane) in West Cumbria, Thorpe (a clear area, originally in woodland) in East Yorkshire) and North Eastern Dialects reflect Viking influence—possibly because the area was all north of the Danelaw boundary. Norwegian has had a greater impact on most northern dialects than Danish, but the East Riding of Yorkshire has been influenced more by Danish.[clarification needed] Authoritative quantification is not readily available but estimates have suggested as many as 7% of West Cumbrian dialect words are original Norse or derived from Norse.

Northern English is one of the major groupings of English English dialects; other major groupings include East Anglian English, East and West Midlands English, West Country (Somerset, Devon, Cornwall/Cornish) and Southern English.


Northern English contains:

In some areas, it can be noticed that dialects and phrases can vary greatly within regions too. For example the Lancashire dialect has many sub-dialects and varies noticeably from West to East and even from town to town. Within as little as 5 miles there can be an identifiable change in accent. The Yorkshire Dialect Society has always separated West Riding dialect from that in the North and East ridings.

Phonological characteristics of Northern English accents[edit]

Approximate positions of Northern English short monophthongs, from Lodge (2009:163)

There are several accent features which are common to most of the accents of Northern England (Wells 1982, section 4.4).

  • The foot–strut split is absent in Northern English, so that cut and put rhyme and are both pronounced with /ʊ/. This has led to Northern England being described "Oop North" /ʊp nɔːθ/ by some in the south of England (a total misunderstanding of the pronunciation of up[citation needed]). Some words with /ʊ/ in RP can have /uː/book is often pronounced /buːk/ in Northern accents, while some conservative accents also pronounce look as /luːk/.
  • The accents of Northern England generally do not have /ɑː/ in words like bath, ask, etc. Cast is pronounced [kʰast] rather than the [kʰɑːst] pronunciation of most southern accents. This pronunciation is found in the words that were affected by the trap–bath split.
  • For many speakers, /ɑː/ is pronounced [aː]: for example, in the words palm, cart, start, tomato.
  • The vowel in dress, test, pet, etc. is slightly more open, transcribed by Wells as /ɛ/ rather than /e/.
  • The "short a" vowel of cat, trap is normally pronounced [a] rather than the [æ] found in traditional Received Pronunciation.
  • In most areas, the letter y on the end of words as in happy or city is pronounced [ɪ], like the i in bit, and not [i]. This was considered RP until the 1990s. The tenser [i] is found in the far north and in the Merseyside area.
  • The Received Pronunciation phonemes /eɪ/ (as in face) and /əʊ/ (as in goat) are often pronounced as monophthongs (such as [eː] and [oː]), or as older diphthongs (such as /ɪə/ and /ʊə/). However, the quality of these vowels varies considerably across the region, and this is considered a greater indicator of a speaker's social class than the less stigmatised aspects listed above.
Major distinctive sounds of Northern English[1][2][3]
Example words Derbyshire Manchester Lancashire Yorkshire Cumbria Northumberland Scouse Geordie
/æ/ bath, dance, trap [æ̞~a~ä] About this sound listen
/ɑː/ bra, calm, father
/ɑr/ car, heart, stark /ɑː/ About this sound listen [ɒː~ɑː] About this sound listen
// fight, ride, try
// brown, flautist, mouth [ɐʊ] [æʊ] [ɐʊ~ɜʊ~əʊ] About this sound listen
// lame, rein, stain [ɛɪ~e̞ɪ] About this sound listen [eɪ] About this sound listen [ɛ̝ː~e̞ː] or [eə~ɪə]
/ɜr/ first, learn, word [ɛ̝ː~e̞ː] About this sound listen [œ̝ː~ø̞ː] About this sound listen
/ər/ doctor, martyr, smaller
// beam, marine, fleece [ɪi] [i] About this sound listen [ɪi~i]
unstressed word-final
/ɪ/ or /i/
city, honey, parties [i] About this sound listen [ɪi~i] [i]
/ɔː/ all, bought, saw [ɔː] About this sound listen [ɒː~ɔ̝ː] [ɔ̝:] [ɒː~ɔ̝ː]
Example words Derbyshire Manchester Lancashire Yorkshire Cumbria Northumberland Scouse Geordie
// goal, shown, toe [ɔʊ~ɔo] [ɛʊ~ɜʊ] [oː~ɔː] or [oə]
/ʌ/ bus, flood, what
// food, glue, lose [ɵʏ] or [ɛʊ] [ʏ~ʉ] About this sound listen [ʉ~u] About this sound listen [ʉ~y] [ʉ(ː)] About this sound listen [ʉu~ʊu~ɵʊ]
intervocalic & postvocalic /k/ racquet, joker, luck [k] [k] or [k~x] [k] About this sound listen [k~x] About this sound listen or
[k~ç] About this sound listen
initial /h/ hand, head, home [∅] or [h]
/l/ lie, mill, salad [l] About this sound listen
stressed-syllable /ŋ/ bang, singer, wrong [ŋg~ŋ] [ŋ]
post-consonantal & intervocalic /r/ current, three, pray [ɹ] [ɾ] [ɹ]
intervocalic, final
& pre-consonantal
attic, bat, fitness [ʔ] or [t(ʰ)] [θ̠] About this sound listen or [ʔ] [ʔ] or [t(ʰ)]
Example words Derbyshire Manchester Lancashire Yorkshire Cumbria Northumberland Scouse Geordie


  1. ^ Heggarty, Paul et al, ed. (2013). "Accents of English from Around the World". University of Edinburgh. 
  2. ^ Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2003). The Phonetics of English and Dutch (Fifth Revised Edition ed.). ISBN 9004103406. 
  3. ^ "manchester%20is%20geographically" English Accents and Dialects. Routledge: 2012.


Further reading[edit]

  • Katie Wales (2006). Northern English: A Social and Cultural History. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-86107-1. 

See also[edit]