Manchester Voices - exploring the accents, dialects and identities of people in Greater Manchester

Dr Rob Drummond
Tuesday, 15 March 2022 - 7:00pm


How does the way we speak relate to who we are?  Are there really significant differences between the accents and dialects of people across the ten boroughs of Greater Manchester?  Do we even relate to the idea of ‘Greater Manchester’, or do our voices suggest older loyalties to Lancashire and Cheshire?  These are some of the questions being addressed in the ‘Manchester Voices’ project, the largest sociolinguistics project of its kind ever to examine the spoken language of people across Greater Manchester.

Funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, the research team has been able to explore people’s perceptions of accent differences through a unique online research tool coupled with Geographic Information System software, to examine archived recordings of people born around the turn of the 20th Century, and to collect current linguistic data in their mobile recording booth – The Accent Van.  The findings uncover a deep and complex relationship between spoken language and our sense of identity, and offer unique insights into how incredibly aware many people are of the way they use language.  The findings also demonstrate that accent diversity is alive and well across the region, even if some cherished dialect terms are beginning to fade away.

In this talk, Dr Rob Drummond will discuss the process and outcomes of the research, and explain why knowing more about how language works is valuable for everyone.


About the speaker

Dr Rob Drummond is a Reader in Sociolinguistics and Head of the Centre for Research in Creative Writing, English Literature and Linguistics at Manchester Metropolitan University.  He researches, teaches and writes about language variation and change, with a particular focus on the relationship between spoken language and identity.  He is currently Principal Investigator on the £700,000 AHRC-funded research project Manchester Voices, a community-oriented sociolinguistics project exploring the accents, dialects and identities of people in Greater Manchester. He also runs the Accentism Project – an online resource and repository for issues around linguistic discrimination.

As well as his academic role, Rob spends a lot of time involved in public-facing work related to language awareness.  He regularly visits schools and colleges to talk about language variation, language prejudice, and the value of linguistics study, and is a regular contributor to media coverage of language topics.  For the last few years, Rob has been a regular contributor to BBC Radio 3’s The Verb as the programme’s ‘resident linguist’.  Rob has a PhD in Linguistics from The University of Manchester. 

Event image: photo of Dr Rob Drummond out and about with the ‘Accent Van’ - ©MMU


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