Northerners are starting to sound the same, according to a new accent study

Bad news, Mancs. Our distinctive Mancunian twang is starting to sound a lot like other accents.

A new study has found that separate dialects in Manchester, Leeds and Sheffield are beginning to lose their intricate differences and blur into a singular ‘General Northern English’ accent instead.

Through the use of machine learning and vowel sound analysis, researchers at the University of Manchester found people are now struggling to differentiate between the accents from these three cities.

However, whilst dialects across Greater Manchester are beginning to sound similar to some neighbouring northerners, other accents in the top half of England – like Liverpool and Newcastle – remained recognisable.

Linguistics expert Dr Patrycja Strycharczuk led the research – with the results appearing to be driven by the rise in the number of educated city residents.

Leeds
Benjamin Elliott / Unsplash

“I often hear statements like “I’m from Liverpool / Manchester / Sheffield, but I don’t have the accent” – however, there is very little systematic evidence that General Northern English really is a coherent variety, so that’s the question we asked ourselves,” said Dr. Strycharczuk.

Despite the data, researchers don’t believe that accents are disappearing entirely.

Results showed that even the most highly-educated urban Northerns retained some northern vowels in their speech; and researchers believe a “new variety” of dialects are being established.

Whitworth Hall, University of Manchester

“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,” said Dr. Strycharczuk.

“The question is whether General Northern English also has the same status for those who don’t speak it – can a speaker be perceived as standard in London?

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

The Manchester accent was voted as the “sexiest in the UK” in a poll conducted earlier this year.

Looks like it isn’t just us who’d prefer for it to stick around.