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Transcript of Scouse accent
‘In Scouse, the centre of gravity of the tongue is brought backwards and upwards, the pillars of the fauces are narrowed, the pharynx is tightened, and the larynx is displaced upwards….The main auditory effect of this setting is the “adenoidal” quality of Scouse, which is produced even if the speaker's nasal passages are unobstructed’ (2).
It would be impossible to understand what the Scouse is about without mentioning Liverpool’s relations with Ireland and Wales throughout history. Both languages mixed and entered Merseyside to fuse with sayings or idioms from international maritime arrivals creating, therefore, the accent we are studying now. We could say that Liverpool’s port witnessed the arrival of people from varied origins each of them with his or her language which was later on somehow appropriated by Liverpool inhabitants mixing it with the original one.
Residents from St. Helens have their particular way of speaking it and the same happens with people in Widnes. Yet, Southport and some areas of Wirral have more genteel versions of it. Scouse as one of the British accents reaches farther zones such as North Wales and Cheshire.
Liverpool is a metropolis in the North-West of England belonging to the county of Merseyside. The inhabitants of the region are called Liverpudlians or Scousers. Scouse is colloquially a dish, a form of stew. Thelast term is also used to refer to Liverpool’s accent and dialect. Liverpool’s origin as a poor city has contributed to its diverse population and to the fact that in a very same city many cultures, peoples and races live together.
· The sound /r/ might be realized as an alveolar continuant or an alveolar tap when preceded by fricatives and plosives or in between vowels.
• The ‘t’ in-between vowels is often pronounced as an /r/. To distinguish it may appear as ‘rr’ in spelling.
• Replacement of phonemes /0, ð/ by /t, d/ by working-class Catholics of Irish origin.
• At the beginning and end of syllables a fricative sound can follow a plosive one.
• RP yes-no questions have a rising intonation whereas Scouse’s are rather flat.
As regards the prominent phonological features of Scouse, we can agree some of them are:
• The fusion of the short 'e' and long 'e' sounds such as in the case of the pair fair/fur.
• Prefixes con-, ex- or ad- pronounced as accented vowels.
• Use of /u/ instead of /u:/
• Tendency to ‘h’ dropping.
• Realization of glotalisation when ‘t’ /t/ appears in intervocalic position and its spelling is usually with double ‘t’. I.e: butter.
• Uncommon in the rest of England, in Liverpool words ending in –ing are pronounced with a velar nasal before the actual nasal sound /g/ is produced, having therefore two velar sounds after
It is an undeniable fact that Scouse is recognisable within the UK and there are several features we immediately associate with it. When people are asked to define what Scouse is like, the most common features highlighted are its quickness, strength and accented manner of speech. That is, a range of rising and falling tones not characteristic of the North of England.
It is extremely difficult to find grammatical differences between Scouse accent and Standard English. However, some surveys have claimed that multiple negation could be understood as a particular feature from this accent. What is more, speakers of Scouse are said to be less fluent in their speech because they tend to use shorter constructions and to organise sintactical structures differently.
However, speaking with a Scouse accent is a rather contemporary. Its origin has to do with the fact that Liverpool has always been a highly important port in the United Kingdom. As we said before, many cultures and people from different places live together in the metropolitan area resulting in the foundation of the particular Scouse accent.
Nevertheless, Scouse is not a standard accent within Merseyside. On the contrary, it has its own varieties depending on the area it is spoken.
Nonetheless, the metropolitan centre, Liverpool, owns its impervious language ‘backslang’: splitting words into incomprehensible sounds to the ears of others. Scouse is still under development making it a different accent throughout generations.
Scouse has also been commented on the news. Some items of news refer to Liverpool’s accent as ‘Britain’s least friendly accent’ (3) and to its speakers as the ‘least intelligent’ (4). A survey carried out proves evidence that at least 28% per cent of Great Britain’s population have been discriminated for their accent, being two thirds of this percentage Liverpudlians (Renaud-Komiya, 2013). What is more, a quarter of Britons taking part in a poll voted Scouse as the least friendly accent in the UK (Wollastoon, 2013). Therefore, we can conclude there are still many prejudices against the way of speaking in Merseyside.
(1) Nilfanion, (2013), Merseyside UK location map [ONLINE]. Available at:
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Merseyside_UK_location_map.svg [Accessed 18 October 13].
(2) Direct quote. Trudgill, P. 1978, ‘Sociolinguistic patterns in British English’, Edward Arnold, London.
(3) Renaud-Komiya, N. (2013) ‘Scouse is ‘Britain’s least friendly accent,’ says survey’, The Independent, 26 September. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/scouse-is-britains-least-friendly-accent-says-survey-8842548.html
(4) Wollastoon, V. (2013) ‘Scousers have the 'least intelligent and least trustworthy' accent - while Devonians have the friendliest’, Mail Online, 26 September. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2433201/Scousers-intelligent-trustworthy-accent--Devonians-friendliest.html
(5) Murphy, K. (2010) 'https://twitter.com/kylemurphy777' [ONLINE]
Available at: YouTube
-Coslett, P. (2008) 'BBC: The origins of Scouse' [Online] Available at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/liverpool/content/articles/2005/01/11/voices_liverpoolaccent_feature.shtml (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-McArthur, T. 1998, ‘Scouse’ in Concise Oxford Companion to English Literature. Available at: http://www.encyclopedia.com/topic/scouse.aspx (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-O. Knowles, G. (1973) 'Scouse: the urban dialect of Liverpool' [Online] Available at: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/2080/1/Knowles_GO_English_PhD_1973.pdf (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-Reform Ed (2011) 'How to speak with a Liverpudlian 'scouse' accent' [Online] Available at: http://learn-english.wonderhowto.com/how-to/speak-with-liverpudlian-scouse-accent-424288/ (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-Renaud-Komiya, N. (2013) ‘Scouse is ‘Britain’s least friendly accent,’ says survey’, The Independent, 26 September. Available at: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/this-britain/scouse-is-britains-least-friendly-accent-says-survey-8842548.html (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-The British Library (Unknown) 'The Scouse accent' [Online] Available at: http://www.bl.uk/learning/langlit/sounds/text-only/england/birkenhead/
-Wikipedia. (2013) 'Liverpool' [Online] Available at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liverpool (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-Wollastoon, V. (2013) ‘Scousers have the 'least intelligent and least trustworthy' accent - while Devonians have the friendliest’, Mail Online, 26 September. Available at: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2433201/Scousers-intelligent-trustworthy-accent--Devonians-friendliest.html (Last Access 20th October 2013)
-Y2U.co.uk (Unknown) 'Scouse' [Online] Available at: http://y2u.co.uk/Liverpool_UK/Liverpool_Scouse_Accent.htm (Last Access 20th October 2013)
As in every dialect, there is specific vocabulary which would result strange to outsiders. The following are only a few examples:
• ackers: money
• bevvie/bevvy: alcoholic drink
• la: friend
• laughin': good
• privvy: toilet
• sound: well, I agree/ Good
• yews/youse: plural of You
If you want to learn more, there are informal online dictionaries available on the Internet
(http://www.sistercompany.co.uk/linguistics/lplaccentmenu.htm & http://scousedictionary.blogspot.co.uk/)
Fig.1 Merseyside UK location map (1)
Some facts about Scouse
Aida López de la Rosa
Julia Garrigós Martí
Murphy, K. (2010) 'https://twitter.com/kylemurphy777' [ONLINE] (5)