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‘Why Is Your Mouth Doing That?’ – A guide to accents and slang that you might hear around town.

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‘OMG I love your accent!’

Living in the north of England is obviously a beautiful thing, but it’s sometimes a little challenging on your ears. The Mancunian accent (-the sound of our voices) is famous around the world but it can be difficult for visitors to understand. So, do you know your ‘safe’ from your ‘sos’? Your ‘bap’ from your ‘barm cake’?

For today’s blog, we’re going to talk about the strange wheezes and grunts that the wonderful people of Manchester call an accent. Let’s start with food!

Free Crop hungry African American female in warm clothes biting delicious fresh burger and looking at camera while sitting on bench in park Stock Photo
Very impressive hair

‘Mum, I’m going for some scran(n) (v)means ‘Mother, I’m leaving now for some food’. ‘Scran’ is a noun and a verb (to eat fast) and while you might feel like this is a fun new word to say at fancy parties please be careful of who you’re talking to.

Slang words’ are often only used in the street.

Please don’t say these things to your teacher, your doctor, in front of a priest or similar man of God, or even someone who works in finance as they might not appreciate just how great they are. Remember, this word (scran) is for outside the classroom and only if you’re really really hungry.

bap /barm / bun / muffin / roll (n) – These are all different ways to say bread. So, if you’re ever in a Gregg’s (the best bakery in the north) and you hear one of these words don’t be alarmed. They’re not in pain or speaking a different language they’re just from here.

The King of England:

‘Good day sir, can I have a bacon barm please with brown sauce?’

Someone, who isn’t royalty, from Manchester:

‘Alright mate, C’ava bacon baarm pleese w’brown sauce’

(I’m sorry, but that’s honestly what we sound like when we’re in bakeries)

Free Photo of a Person Holding a Cup Stock Photo
No one knows what’s inside this cup

Brew – is a cup tea (or possibly a coffee) Now, this is important – If someone comes to your house to check the pipes or fix your internet, make sure you offer them a ‘brew’. This is a tradition that goes back thousands of years and you can’t just come along and break it – why would you even want to do that?’ Tea is very close to hearts of all English people. So please respect our strange ways and have a brew with us.

Okay, so I’m starting to think that this might take forever so let’s run through a few more. Are you ready? Let’s do it!

Nah – no

Safe – This is my favourite slang word! It means ‘okay / I understand what you’re saying’ (it can also mean hello, but let’s get into that later – there’s really no time – Right, Is it okay if we keep going? – Safe…

alright – ‘hello’ / (this is a shortened version of ‘Are you alright? / How are you? – You should know at this point that like much of the world, people from Manchester are incredibly lazy so phrases get smaller and smaller and meanings change a little over time)

Soz – ‘Sorry’ (I told you we were lazy). Soz about that.

swear down – ‘I promise that what I’m saying is true’. As an example, here’s part of a real one act play about inner city life…

‘I just saw Barack Obama in Piccadilly Gardens!’

‘Nah mate’

‘I swear down, he was talkin’ American to a pigeon’

Act 1 scene 1, Piccadilly – A Secret Garden 2018 – Theodore Loveheart

dead (adv) – really, ‘I’m dead tired’ – Look I don’t know why we use these silly words but this is where we are as a city. I don’t make the rules.

bear – ‘a lot of’. No, I’m not making this up. Look, here’s a slightly longer extract from that amazing play again…

‘I just saw Barack Obama in Piccadilly Gardens!’

‘Nah mate’

‘I swear down, he was talkin’ American to bear pigeons. It was dead good!’

Act 1 scene 2, Piccadilly -A Secret Garden 2018 -Theodore Loveheart

Last ones…

our kid – your brother and sister (it could also be your close friend)

angin (adj) – horrible / disgusting / makes you feel sick.

do one (exp) – get lost / go away from me (There are stronger ways to say this but that’s for another blog)

He didn’t ‘let on’ – he didn’t say hello / (It can also be he didn’t tell me what was wrong ‘He didn’t let on that he was feeling sick)

nowt (n) – nothing – (Again, just ridiculously lazy).

Snide (adj) – horrible / a person who doesn’t like to share – or both (Fun fact my father is both!)

And these are just the start. There really are hundreds of words we could talk about and these are just a few from Manchester. I should go and get some scran but our kid wants to go for dinner later and I can’t eat now, because that would snide on him. You see how easy it is!

Until next time, keep practising your English and if you’re ever walking around Manchester keep your ears open any unusual phrases and keep your eyes open for Barack Obama. …I’ve heard he’s around here somewhere.

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