Learning a UK accent isn’t tricky. Especially when you know which British accent you want to master. There is definitely more than one British accent; in fact, there is a distinct accent in every part of the island. For instance, there is a Scottish and RP accent, a Yorkshire accent, and a Manchester accent, also commonly known as Mancunian. We’re about to learn the latter.
Master the Manchester Accent
Non-British people, usually Harry Potter fans, assume that the “correct” British accent is the RP accent. However, RP is less prevalent in the UK than you may imagine. So, the first step in mastering the Manchester accent is understanding that it differs from other British accents.
The Manchester accent is one of the most neglected regional accents in the UK. People usually speak Mancunian in a coarse, rustic dialect, almost like a street talker. On the contrary, people in the extreme south of the metropolitan region speak in a sophisticated and refined Manchester accent.
Moreover, Manchester residents speak with a lower pitch, which may make it simpler to comprehend when they go up instead of down at the end of a phrase.
Practice the Nasal Quality
A vital feature of the Manchester accent is the nasal quality. If you have heard someone from Manchester speaking, you must have noticed that most of their words come through their noses.
This indicates that the sound is produced by air moving via the nasal passage rather than the mouth. For instance, if someone were to say ‘marks’ in Mancunian, they would say ‘maa-n-ks.’
Similarly, the word ‘badge’ would be pronounced as ‘baa-n-ge’ in a Manchester accent. When practicing these words out loud, make sure that you produce a slight ‘n’ sound instead of the ‘r’ and ‘d.’
Over-Enunciate Your Vowel Sounds
If you compare the Manchester accent with other UK English accents, you will notice that the Mancunians pronounce their vowel sounds too clearly. Most words in a Manchester accent end differently than in different UK accents because of the flattened vowel sounds. You will have to practice applying this rule to some everyday words like ‘extra’ to make sure you are stressing all the individual vowel sounds.
Likewise, you will have to replace the ‘y’ or ‘e’ sound at the end of sentences with ‘eh.’ So, you will transform the words ‘really’ and ‘very’ into ‘reall-eh’ and ‘ver-eh’ when practicing a Manchester accent.
Take a look at this sentence to develop a better concept: “He was angry at the management for delaying his salary.” Someone with a Manchester accent would deliver the sentence as “Hie was angreh at the management for delaying his salareh.”
The ‘-NG’ Sound Dilemma
In most British accents, you muffle the ‘-g’ sound in words and produce a faint sound instead. However, in Mancunian, you deliver a prominent ‘-g’ sound when pronouncing such words.
Let’s take a look at some sample words for reference. While you can maintain an RP accent even while pronouncing the words’ young,’ ‘ring,’ and ‘singer’ with a faint ‘g’ sound, you will have to make the ‘g’ sound stand out when learning a Manchester accent. Also, make sure to apply the nasal quality to these words for better practice.
What to Do with Words Ending with ‘-ING’
The prominent ‘g’ rule doesn’t apply to all words containing ‘-ng.’ For example, the ‘g’ sound is dropped in words like ‘something’ and ‘happening.’ Thus, you will pronounce these words as ‘somethin’ and ‘appenin’ in a Manchester accent. We have listed a few words below for you to practice this rule:
Drop the ‘H’ Sound
If you notice closely, we wrote ‘appenin’ instead of ‘happenin’ when illustrating the Manchester pronunciation. This is mainly because the Mancunians drop the ‘-h’ sound in words starting with the letter.
In this case, you would pronounce ‘happy’ as ‘-appy’ and ‘-appenin’ as ‘happening.’ Some other examples include:
- House as ‘ouse
- Home as ‘ome
- How come as ‘ow come
- Hearty as ‘earty
- Helpful as ‘elpful
Consider the sentence: “He hit the nail with a hammer.” In a Manchester accent, you would deliver this sentence as “-E -it the nail with a -ammer,” making sure to over-stress and flatten the vowel sounds.
Pronounce the ‘-TH’s’ as ‘-F’
You might have noticed that people with other UK English accents pronounce the ‘-th’s’ in their sentences as ‘-s.’ You can say that Manchester English is similar. The only difference is that in Mancunian, you replace the ‘-th’ sound with ‘f,’ or in some cases, the ‘v’ sound.
Implementing this rule, someone from Northern England would pronounce ‘thought’ as ‘fought,’ ‘think,’ and ‘fink,’ ‘something’ as ‘somefing,’ and ‘bath’ as ‘baf.’ Other similar examples include pronouncing:
- With as wiff
- Weather as wea-ver
- Thank you as Fank you
- Toothbrush as toof-brush
Produce a Deep ‘-U’ Sound
Pronouncing the ‘u’ is the major divider between the Northern and Southern UK English accents. In the Southern accent, the alphabet is pronounced in its literal sense, with a rapid ‘u’ sound. For example, you pronounce ‘something’ as ‘sum-thing.’
However, when pronouncing the exact words in Mancunian, you produce a deep ‘o’ sound instead of the typical ‘u’ sound. So, in this case, you would pronounce ‘something’ as ‘som-fing.’ Likewise, you pronounce:
- Shut as shot
- Lovely as louvel-eh
- Cut as cout
- Cup as coup
- Pup as poup
- Jug as joug
Several other examples regarding the same rule include ‘up,’ ‘under,’ ‘umbrella,’ and ‘uncle.’ You would deliver these words as ‘oup,’ ‘ounder,’ ‘oumbrella,’ and ‘oncle,’ in sentences.
One thing people usually notice about the Mancunian accent right away is the word contractions. And not just any contractions, but contractions of contractions.
Let me understand better: in practically every other part of the world, you contract the word ‘does not’ into ‘doesn’t’ to add fluency to your sentence. However, in the Manchester accent, you further contract ‘doesn’t’ to ‘dun’t.’
Use Glottal Stops
In the Manchester accent, you completely ignore the ‘-t’ sound if it appears between words. So, as you are articulating the ‘-t’ sound, you stop the airflow and break the word into two syllables.
As a result of these glottal stops, the words’ matter,’ ‘water,’ and ‘city’ would be pronounced as ‘ma-er,’ ‘wah-er,’ and ‘ci-ie’ in Mancunian.
There is a bit of a learning curve here because, in most dialects, you substitute the missing ‘-t’ sound with a faint ‘-ch’ sound, pronouncing ‘matter’ as ‘ma-ch-er.’ However, in the Manchester accent, you replace the ‘-ch’ sound with an ‘-ah’ sound. So, instead of ‘ma-ch-er,’ you pronounce ‘matter’ as ‘ma-ah-r’ in Mancunian. You can practice your glottal stops on the following words:
Practice Saying ‘Mi’ Instead of ‘My’
In the Manchester accent, you replace the word ‘my’ with ‘mi.’ You will also spot this feature in several other British English accents, as it is linked to the fluency of the delivered sentence.
So, if you were saying a sentence: ‘I leaned my head on my mother’s shoulder,’ you would deliver it as ‘I leaned mi ‘ead on mi mo-ff-er’s shoulder.’
Know the Manchester Lingo
One of the best ways to mingle with the natives is to learn phrases and expressions they use in their everyday lives. So, after mastering the accent variations and dialect rules, its time to learn some Mancunian vocabulary:
- Dead: exceptionally well
- Now then: a word of greeting used instead of ‘hello’ for an old friend
- Excellent: nice
- Mint: new or outstanding condition
- Sound: good
- Strops: Tantrums or mood swings
- Buzzin’: excited
- Strickin’: tears
- Gaggin’: thirsty
- You know what I mean: used as verbal punctuation at the end of sentences.
Tips to Learn Manchester Accent
Here are some of our top tips to master the Manchester accent in no time:
Hear People Speak in the Dialect
You can learn a Mancunian accent faster by watching some of the TV shows known for it. Science has proven that you learn accents comparatively faster by listening to them. There are some fantastic movies and TV shows that you can watch to improve your Manchester accent, and we have listed the finest ones below:
- Enola Holmes
- Doctor Who
- Blue Planet
- The Great British Bake-Off
Listen to Podcasts
If you find watching movies a hassle, you can always listen to podcasts to understand the Manchester accent in the context of natural speech. If you are an Intermediate level learner, you check the material at:
- The British Council’s Learn English podcast
- BBC six-minute English program
- The English We Speak from the BB
- Luke’s English Podcast
Utilize the Resources Targeted for British Audience
You’ll need to focus your learning resources if you wish to learn the Manchester British English dialect. Fortunately, the British government spends a lot of money on free materials that help ESL students learn British English. These initiatives consist of:
- BBC Learning English
- British Council: Learn English Online
If you want to expand your resource material, you can also refer to the various privately owned online resources. These range from the materials from Cambridge English, the test board, and publishers to specialized courses on Coursera and British English flashcard sets on Memrise.