How do people talk in Manchester?

Posted on November 13, 2013 by

In the spring of 2013, students in LELA20072 Language Variation and Change at the University of Manchester set out to investigate the linguistic diversity present in British English. Under the direction of course leader Dr Laurel MacKenzie, they circulated questionnaires to their friends and families to target variation in lexis, phonology, and syntax. Over 1400 English speakers responded, ranging in age from 10 to 87, and spanning a geographical region from Moray to Cornwall. Manchester undergraduate student George Bailey has compiled the results into a set of interactive Google maps that showcase regional patterns.

You can find the maps here (courtesy of Multilingual Manchester)!

Manchet thinks this is an incredible example of crowdsourcing through teaching – far more valuable than essays that will just be thrown away at the end of term. The accumulated results, while not perfectly balanced for age, gender, region etc., still constitute a major resource for the study of linguistic variation in the UK, particularly in the northwest. Congratulations and thanks to Laurel, George B., Danielle T., and the many other students involved!

Featured image: what do you call a small round piece of bread? (Screenshot from here.)