[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Monday, 15 August 2005, 09:54 GMT 10:54 UK
UK dialects 'strong and varied'
Woman on telephone
Although some rural dialects are dying out, some words remain.
Regional dialects in the UK are holding their own in spite of fears the South East accent, or Estuary English is taking over, a BBC survey suggests.

The BBC Voices project found more than 700 ways of describing playing truant, including "nick off" in northern England and "mitch" in south Wales.

Its website survey of 32,000 people also found 480 expressions for "cold".

Mick Ord, the project's director, said there were far more accents now than there used to be.

'Not true'

"People are often going on about the spread of Estuary English and have wrongly led us to believe that we'll all be speaking the same soon," he said.

"Before I came to this project I had the idea that dialect words were dying out. Nothing could be further from the truth."

He said although some rural dialects were dying out, not all dialect words disappear.

Cuddy-wifter - Northumbria
Mollydukered - Central Scotland
Keggy - East Midlands

The survey also put Liverpool among areas where dialects could be found in the greatest variety.

Mr Ord said: "In Merseyside, where I'm from, you can go just a couple of miles or in some cases a few streets away and there's quite a significant change to the accent."

More than 400 different expressions for "cold" included "taters" in East Anglia and "foonert" in Scotland.

The researchers said immigration was among factors behind the diversity of the British language.

David Crystal, consultant to the Voices project, said: "Some of the old rural dialects have disappeared as that way of life has dwindled, but they are being replaced by a new range of dialects from ethnic groups as they settle into communities."

'Personal identity'

Another reason for changes in accents and words has been the greater relocation of people around the country.

The moment I set foot in the town, my accent comes back with a vengeance!
Rachel Cox, Chesterfield, UK

Mr Crystal agreed that "too much had been made" of the spread of Estuary English, the flat-vowelled accent of the South East.

But he said it was a "natural pattern" that the capital's accent had an influence on the rest of the country, and it was detectable across the UK.

"But it is usually submerged by the local accent which remains a major expression of personal identity," he added.

Verbal identity 'remains strong'
02 Mar 05 |  England
Internet dialect files expanded
01 Mar 05 |  West Yorkshire



Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific