A survey done by Dr Laurel Mackenzie and her linguistics students on 1400 English Speakers shows wide differences in the manner in which Northerners and Southerners describe various items or activities like trousers, bread, evening meals and footware.
The manner in which northerners and southerner pronounce different words may be very different. For instance, Northerners tend to rhyme “one” and “gone” unlike in the South. Northerners are also likely to understand when you use “give it me” unlike Southerners where the use of “give it to me” is acceptable.
However, some people i.e. Brummies can still not tell whether they belong to the North or South. For instance, they won’t mind rhyming ‘one’ and ‘gone’, which is common in the north and still call evening meals ‘dinner’ like the Southerners. They also do not rhyme ‘foot’ and ‘strut’.
People also describe soft round bread differently depending on where they come from. For instance, they call it ‘bun’ in Tyneside, ‘cob’ in the Midlands, ‘barm’ or ‘muffin’ in the North West and ‘teacake’ in Manchester. However, Southerners call these ‘rolls’.
If you see anyone rhyming ‘fur’ and ‘bear’, they are more likely to be Scousers or coming from Merseyside, Wigan or St. Helens. The students in the third year found respondents living within the geographical region from Moray, Scotland to Cornwall with the respondents aged between 10 and 87.
George Bailey who was one of the student compiled such results into very user friendly Google maps that display regional patterns. The map is available on University’s Multilingual Manchester website. http://mlm.humanities.manchester.ac.uk/maps.html
The research findings show a gaping difference between North and South on the way people use words when describing different items and whenever pronouncing them. It is inevitable for languages to differ based on various factors like socioeconomic status, age, and where you come from.
However, it is hard to explain why people from different parts of the country use different words when describing the same thing. Some anecdotal explanations exist for various differences. For instance, people in the South West use daps to mean sports shoes as an abbreviation for Dunlop Athletic Plimsolls. However, it is hard to verify this.
According to Dr. Mackenzie, it is easy to note differences in pronunciation between people coming from very different regions. In many instances, the change starts slowly and spreads to different areas although the spread by be inhibited by various geographical and political factors.
For instance, the manner in which ‘put’ and ‘cut’ are pronounced by the Northerners is a representation of the pronunciation that was in existence several centuries back. It was the Southerners who started moving away from these pronunciations in 1500s although the Northerners maintained these pronunciations.