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Copy of 'Scouse English'

Poster Presentation

Robyn Galloway

on 16 June 2013

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Transcript of Copy of 'Scouse English'

“Does being a celebrity influence the use of the “Scouse” accent?”
Research By: Sam Audley, Maria Bi, Robyn Galloway, Claire Meller and Safina Shaikh

For the purpose of our investigation we will be referring to the “Scouse” accent. This is the colloquial working class and stereotypical definition of the accent spoken by the inhabitants of Liverpool and its surrounding areas. The celebrities that we analysed claimed to be of working class background and proud of their roots, and therefore justified our generalisation of “Scouse.” The areas of interest to our investigation are specifically limited areas of Liverpool. Therefore, we had to consider this in our findings as they cannot be generalised from.
A town located within the Metropolitan Borough of Wirral on the Wirral Peninsula at the mouth of the River Mersey, opposite Liverpool city. Birkenhead currently has a population of approximately 91,800. The town is historically known for its industry with this trade still ever present. (Birkinheaduk, 2010)
(Birkenhead UK, 2010)

A town also renowned for its industry, chemical leather tanning and ship building. Runcorn is situated within Halton borough in Cheshire, across the peninsula of the river Mersey and closer to Widnes than Liverpool. The population of Runcorn is around 61,500, which is two thirds of the size of Birkenhead.
(The Runcorn and distract historical society, 2010)
(True knowledge, 2011)
(Tour UK, 2011)

An area comprising of the boroughs of Liverpool, Wirral, Knowsley, Sefton and St Helens; named for the obvious, that it runs alongside the river Mersey. Historically Merseyside and particularly Liverpool grew due to its docks which transformed the area from a rural into the thriving urban culture that now is known as Britain’s fifth city.
The Liverpool accent which has been analysed in this study has been developed largely due to the potato famine in Ireland, which saw 300,000 Irish people travelling into Liverpool in 1847. Many of these people were deported back to Ireland , however many stayed and therefore made a profound effect on the Liverpool accent.
The language change would initially have been linguistic diffusion, transferring from the Irish linguistic environment into the Liverpool linguistic environment due to the mass of Irish people present at the time. This would then have developed into sociolinguistic diffusion, with Liverpudlians who had already acquired certain Irish linguistic features, using these in front of their friends who then in turn acquire this Irish feature. This finally over time, develops into lexical diffusion, where the speaker has acquired a linguistic feature which relates to one word and then implies this onto other words with the same original pronunciation to form a new variety.
(Merseyside, 2011)
(The History place, 2000)
Paul O’Grady, John Bishop and Liverpudlian workers
Paul James Michael O’Grady
• Born 14th June 1955
• Raised in Birkenhead, Liverpool
• Attended a Catholic primary school
• Comes from a Catholic background
• Whilst working at a bar/brothel he created his alter ego Lily Savage
• He named Savage after his mother’s maiden name
• Paul debuted Lily first in 1985
• Lily is based on the characteristics and attributes of women he came across in his childhood
• Later in his career he decided to debut himself as Paul O’Grady
(O'Grady, Paul (2008).
John Bishop

• Born 30th November 1966
• Raised in Runcorn, Liverpool
• He didn’t start performing until the age of 34
• He now lives in Manchester
• Fond supporter of Liverpool Football Club
• Played semi professional at Football clubs before his comedy career began
(Bishop, John (2008).
Liverpudlian workers

• Former dockers
• Middle aged males, ranging from 45-62
• John Cowley, Anthony Nelson, Michael Tighe, John Deaves and Crichton Mark
• From Liverpool Merseyside
• They are all very opinionated on topics, family, local accents and the usage of swearing

(BBC Voices (2009)
• Retired miners
• Four males, William (Billy) Walker, Shelagh Lynch,
Raymond Rigby, James (Jimmy) Crehan
• From St Helens, Merseyside
• All retired friends

(BBC Voices 2003)
Research Aims and Objectives
• To see whether celebrities use more “Scouse” features for comedic effect in their performances, than normal speech of citizens.
•To see whether the stereotypical “Scouse” features occur within both the citizen and celebrity studies, specifically looking at:
o How “Scouse” differs from RP with the pronunciation of the vowel sound /u:/ or / / using words such as “book” and “cook”.
o How “Scouse” differ from RP with the pronunciation of the dental fricative /th/
o The use of consonant and vowel deletion.
• Data collection was carried out over 2 months,
and was based on middle aged males.
• Data was extracted and transcribed from two websites; for the study of our celebrities, and for the study of our “Scouse” citizen accents.
• Data ranges from informal conversations for the regular
“Scouse” to a performance environment for our chosen celebrities.
• A total of two celebrities and three “Scouse” citzen accents were transcribed.
• Each transcript was based on 1 minute of dialogue; a total of 18 minutes worth of data was collected, transcribed and analysed.

Honeybone, P. (2007). New dialect formation in nineteenth century Liverpool: a brief history of scouse. The Mersey Sound:Liverpool’s Language, People and Places. Liverpool: Open House Press. (
Knowles, G. (1973). Scouse: the urban dialect of Liverpool. Unpublished PhD dissertation. University of Leeds
O’Grady, P. (2008) At My Mother's Knee... and Other Low Joints. London: Bantam.
Wales, K. (2006). Northern English: a social and cultural history. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Wells, J. (1982). Accents of English. (3 Vols). Cambridge: CUP.
Watson, K. (2006). Lenition and segemental interaction: evidence from Liverpool English (and Spanish). Glossa- An Ambilingual Interdisciplinary Journal, vol 1, no.1.
Watson, K. (2002). The realisation of final /t/ in Liverpool English. Durham Working Papers in Linguistics, Volume 8
BBC Voices. (2011) (date accessed 16/02/11)
Beyond lisping code switching styles. (2002) (date accessed 23/02/11)
Birkenhead UK. (2010)
( (date accessed 23/02/11)
John Bishop Biography. (2008). (date accessed 25/03/11)
External Sociolinguistic Factors:
• Homosexuality
Paul O’Grady’s results could have differed from the others in a number of ways
• Working in a brothel along numerous drag acts
• Working in a gay bar
• Creating his own drag acts from the ideas of what he had be exposed to
All this could account for the differences between Paul’s “Scouse” accent in comparison to the others as there are a number of characteristics homosexuals portray. There are several stereotypically linguistic features that are said to be acquired by homosexuals, these being, adopting a female speech pattern, the ‘gay lisp’, code switching and a dentalized /s/ and /z/ with the tongue touching the teeth.
(speech-language-therapy, 2002)
• Swearing
Another Feature we encountered in our data was the aspect of swearing. In 100% of our celebrity corpus of data, were taboo language and swearing. This is intriguing, in the example of the Paul O Grady extract from his 5 o clock talk show on Channel 4, as it was aired live before the watershed, with the use of “bastards!”
We found this intriguing as when we did our initial research for the project, one of the main stigmas and stereotypes associated with “Scouse” people was a yob like culture with excessive swearing in their day to day language.

• Gender, Age and Ethnicity
Our sample was not representative of the general population of Liverpool, as we only looked at middle aged white males. For future studies it would be beneficial to introduce data provided by females, a variety of ethnicities, and varying ages of data subjects over a larger sample size. To get a general consensus we would need to look at all the areas stated above and expand the types of research methods employed.

Jones,T. (1998). The Independent News
( accessed 10/03/11)
John Bishop transcript. (2010) (date accessed 02/03/11)
Lily savage transcript. (2007) (date accessed 23/03/11)
O’Grady, P.(2009) – Post bag and homeless puppies- (data accessed 23/03/11)
O’Grady, P. (2011)
Picture of O'Grady P, (date accessed 31/03/11) (date accessed 06/03/11)
The Biography channel. (2011) (date accessed 06/03/11)
The history place (2000) (date accessed 16/03/2011)
The Runcorn and distract historical society. (2010) (date accessed 10/03/2011)
Tour UK (2011) (date accessed10/03/11)
True Knowledge (2011) (accessed 30/03/11)
Background research on “Scouse” features

Vowel distinctions
There is no distinction between the vowel of words like ‘foot’ and that of ‘strut’, which both have [U]. Likewise the vowel of the words like ‘bath’ and ‘dance’ is short [a] and not the longer [a:] which is a common feature found in the south of England.
Liverpudlian working class speakers have no contrast between the vowel in ‘hair’ and ‘her’, which both have the front monophthong [ɛ:] or [e:].
Words such as book, cook and look typically have the long [u:] rather than the short [ʊ] found in the south and RP.
Perhaps the biggest differences between Liverpool English vowels and those of many other northern English varieties are that Liverpool English use diphthongs. Whereas in other parts of the north of England, words like ‘goat’, ‘price’ and ‘face’ would have the monophthongs [o: a: e:] respectively, in Liverpool the more standard diphthongs [əʊ aɪ eɪ] are used.

Liverpool English is non-rhotic, meaning that words like ‘car’ and ‘park’ are r-less. In the other positions, /r/ can be realised as a tap (e.g mirror [mɪɾɛ], American [əmɛɾɪkən], breath [bɾɛθ], straight, [stɾeɪt]) but is the standard approximant in the initial environments (e.g red [ɹɛd], right [ɹaɪt]).Other varieties in the west and north west of England, the [g] in words such as ‘thing’ and ‘singer’ is maintained in Liverpool English e.g [θɪŋg, sɪŋgɛ]. The velar nasal/ alveolar nasal alternation found in other varieties is also attested, e.g singing [sɪŋɪn]
One feature which is believed to be innovated into Liverpool English via contact from Irish language varieties (1840) is the ‘stopping’ of the TH-fricatives / θ / and / ð /, which typically surface as dentalised or laminal alveolar stops in both initial, final and intervocalic positions, e.g the [ɖə], brother [bɾʊɖɛ], plinth [plɪnʈ]. TH-fronting, the process by which /θ/ and /ð/ are realized as the labiodental fricatives [f] and [v] respectively is uncommon in Liverpool English, despite its high frequency in other accents of Britain (Watson, 2005). So far, the features mentioned are those that are commonly used in Liverpool.

Plosive lenition in Liverpool English
It is the system of plosives which distinguishes Liverpool English from many other varieties, and which forms a major part of the accent’s stereotype. The stop of the air flows, affricates and oral fricatives are found for plosives at all place of articulation (e.g. dock [dɒx], right [ɹaɪs], gossip [gɒsəɸ]) and the glottal fricative is attested for /t/ in utterance final position (e.g. that [ðah], what [wɒh]).
Honeybone (2001) provides a careful consideration of the lenition of /t/ and /k/ according to the segmental environment in which they occur. Using auditory analysis, he concludes that /t/ cannot lenite to a fricative if it follows /l, n, s/, and /k/ cannot spirantize following /N/, but can do so following /l/. This is evident for the generalisabilty of strength-through-sharing features that are commonly found in northern variety.

(Watson, 2006)
Sample John Bishop Transcript
‘Ello ‘ello good evenin’ ev’rybody ‘ello dat dats actually very true i’ve only er been a full time comedian for two years er prior to dat I was a sales and marketin’ directa in a pharmaceutical company (coompany) [pause] now i’ll allow dat to sink in for a minute [pause] I was a sales ‘n’ marketin’ directa for an international pharmaceutical company (coompany) n dats not soomthin’ dat many of da lads dat grew up on my estate ended up doin’ er to be fair alot of ‘em were in related industries [pause] but dey didn’ seem to get a coompany car to be honest. (, 2008)
Consonant Omitting
• A linguistic feature noted from the research findings is the omitting of both opening and closing consonant sounds. For example the RP pronunciation of “I g”, has been changed to become “I ” in “Scouse” as featured in both Paul O Grady’s speech and John Bishop’s.
• Opening consonant sounds have also been omitted as seen in the John Bishop transcript; for example “ello ello”. Intriguingly this is a feature commonly attributed to London Dialects, and it can therefore be viewed as an example of dialect levelling.
Dental fricatves
• The deletion of dental fricatives, /ð/ and / /, was generally attributed to the “Scouse” accent as being present due to the Irish English influence. They were realised as /d/ and /t/ respectively. However, in the younger generation, this feature is being dropped and realised instead as a labio-dental fricatives, although within the corpus of data from middle aged men in this study, the deletion is still a common feature. It can be seen from the graph provided of the findings of this research within the corpus that the dental fricative seems to be strong within the celebrities’ performance but weak within the speech of the normal citizens; except in the case of Lily Savage which we must assume to be a conscious choice by Paul O’Grady.
/Bʊ k/ or /bu:k/?
• Both the celebrities and the workers use the /u:/ feature for words such as “book” and “school” as opposed to the RP pronunciation of / ʊ/. This feature is rife within all of the data and is not noticeably higher in the celebrity data like with other features.
Another sociolinguistic variable of “Scouse” which wasn’t anticipated on finding was the use of syllable reduction in words. For example in John Bishop’s speech he regularly reduces tri-syllabic words such as company (RP: k ʌ mpəni) in to a duo-syllabic words (“Scouse”: k ʌ mpni) creating a new diphthong of the (mpn) blending sounds.

• Celebrities do put on an accent for performance, especially noticeable in the differing speech of Paul O’Grady and Lily savage, his alter-ego.
• Professionalism decreases the usage of stereotyped colloquial features of the “Scouse” accent.
• The “Scouse” accent is a pride to those who speak it as part of heritage, and they do not lose the accent even when they have moved away like in the case Paul O Grady and John Bishop.
Further Research
• A larger sample size, to include females, people from different socio-economic backgrounds, ethnicities and age groups.
• A larger corpus of data
• Data recorded first hand in Liverpool
• Investigation on the use of a wider range of linguistic variables
Full transcript