Is this a barm or a bap? Wigan residents wanted for huge dialect project

A barm or a bap?
A barm or a bap?

Wiganers are being asked to take part in a huge new project which will map out how people speak across Greater Manchester.

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) wants residents from across the region to describe local accents and dialects, and where they are spoken, as part of their Manchester Voices map.

The most detailed ever research study of its type, the project will culminate in a permanent public resource which will celebrate the region’s rich tapestry of voices.

Sociolinguists from MMU are investigating where certain accents and dialects are spoken, people’s perceptions of how they and others speak, and how this contributes to civic and cultural belonging.

The project is seeking at least 500 contributions from people across the region, and with Wiganese still of huge cultural significance to the borough, Wigan residents will be among those most wanted to take part by the researchers at MMU.

On an online map of the 10 boroughs of Greater Manchester, participants will be asked to draw an outline around areas where they think certain dialects are spoken, to name the dialects, and to give examples of their linguistic features – such as words used or the way they are said.

Whether you call it a barmcake or muffin, how you pronounce words such as “book”, “nurse”, “boat”, and even “Bury”, or how likely you are to describe yourself as “skriking” or having “cruckled” will be clearly mapped out depending on whether you live in, Wigan, Bolton or Oldham.

People will also be asked for their views on these differences, for example where in the region people are felt to have stronger accents, or even where they sound more friendly or more Mancunian.

This data will allow researchers Dr Rob Drummond and Dr Erin Carrie to build detailed maps showing dialect areas, and delve into the characteristics their speakers are thought to have.

Next year, they will travel the region in their Accent Van, a specially kitted-out vehicle that serves as a mobile interview booth and recording studio – asking people in person about the way they speak.

Dr Carrie, senior lecturer in Linguistics at MMU, said: “The project is about, with, and for the people of Greater Manchester, which makes it essential that we hear from residents in the region directly about how they speak and who they are.

“Using the techniques we’re developing, we’re able to explore the social meanings of accents and dialects within and across the region and this helps us to better understand the links between language, place and identity.”

Dr Drummond, reader in linguistics, said: “It is important that the project hears from residents from all backgrounds and of all ages so that we can get a more complete picture of the region’s linguistic landscape.”

The results will provide the most detailed linguistic and attitudinal description the region has ever seen, while simultaneously celebrating diversity through language in a variety of artistic forms.

To take part and to find out more, visit manchestervoices.org.