West Midlands English

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West Midlands English
Native toEngland
RegionWest Midlands
EthnicityEnglish
Early forms
DialectsWest Midlands English
Language codes
ISO 639-3
EnglandWestMidlands.png
Location of The West Midlands within England
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West Midlands English is a group of dialects of the English language.

County accents[edit]

Certain areas of the West Midlands are stereotyped as having stronger accents than others, Dudley in the Black Country being an example. There are some local phrases in the Black Country that are renowned. People do tend to substitute a reply of "arr" for "yes". Generally, most words are shortened, most commonly being "I haven't" to "I ay" (which can be argued as an even shorter form of "I ain't").[citation needed] In the south of the West Midlands (southern Warwickshire and Worcestershire), the accent is more similar to the general southern accent.

Dave Bradley, a presenter on BBC Hereford and Worcester said in 2005 that:

[in Herefordshire and Worcestershire] we have many different ways of speaking the English language, at least I think that's what we are speaking !!!

Go from Kington in North Herefordshire with the Welsh-border lilt, to Evesham in the south of Worcestershire where there's a very different sound.

From Kidderminster and the North Worcestershire area were many, but not all, have a Brummigum twang, and then off down to Ross where there's a hint of the rounded Gloucestershire tones.

— Dave Bradley[1]

Phonology[edit]

  • West Midlands accents do not have the trap-bath split, so cast is pronounced [kast] rather than the [kɑːst] pronunciation of most southern accents. The northern limit of the [ɑː] in many words crosses England from mid-Shropshire to The Wash, passing just south of Birmingham.
  • There is no foot–strut split in the West Midlands, except for Herefordshire, with words containing [ʌ] like strut or but being pronounced with [ʊ], without any distinction between putt and put.
  • H-dropping is common, in which the [h] sound is usually ommited from most words.[2]
  • There is no Ng-coalescence. Cases of the spelling -ing are pronounced as [ɪŋɡ] rather than [ɪŋ]. Wells noted that there were no exceptions to this rule in Stoke-on-Trent, whereas there were for other areas with the [ɪŋɡ] pronunciation, such as Liverpool.[3]
  • Dialect verbs are used, for example am for are, ay for is not (related to ain't), bay for are not, bin for am or, emphatically, for are. Hence the following joke dialogue about bay windows: "What sort of windas am them?" "They'm bay windas." "Well if they bay windas wot bin them?". There is also humour to be derived from the shop-owner's sign of Mr. "E. A. Wright" (that is, "He ay [isn't] right," a phrase implying someone is saft [soft] in the jed [head]). Saft also may mean silly as in, "Stop bein' so saft".
  • The Birmingham and Coventry accents are distinct, even though the cities are only 19 miles/30 km apart. Coventry being closer to an East Midlands accent.[citation needed]
  • Around Stoke-on-Trent, the short i can sometimes sound rather like ee, as very obvious when hearing a local say it, however this is not always the case as most other words such as "miss" or "tip" are still pronounced as normal. The Potteries accent is perhaps the most distinctly 'northern' of the West Midlands accents, given that the urban area around Stoke-on-Trent is close to the Cheshire border.
  • Herefordshire and parts of Worcestershire and Shropshire have a rhotic accent[citation needed] somewhat like the West Country, and in some parts mixing with the Welsh accent, particularly when closer to the English/Welsh border.

Varieties of West Midlands English[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Bradley, Dave (19 August 2005). "You knows 'im don't ya? BBC Hereford and Worcester presenter Dave Bradley tells us his thoughts on accents and dialects". BBC Hereford and Worcester.
  2. ^ Collins, Beverley; Mees, Inger M. (2002). The Phonetics of Dutch and English (5 ed.). Leiden/Boston: Brill Publishers. pp. 290–302.
  3. ^ Wells in Trudgill ed., Language in the British Isles, page 58, Cambridge University Press, 1984

Further reading[edit]

  • Clark, Urszula (2004), "The English West Midlands: phonology", in Schneider, Edgar W.; Burridge, Kate; Kortmann, Bernd; Mesthrie, Rajend; Upton, Clive (eds.), A handbook of varieties of English, 1: Phonology, Mouton de Gruyter, pp. 134–162, ISBN 3-11-017532-0

External links[edit]