Entertainment, Manchester, News

Manchester Voices launch celebrates accents, dialects and people of Greater Manchester

Off 344


Humanity Hallows Issue 6 Out Now
Pick up your copy on campus or read online

By Emily Oldfield

A celebration of the accents, dialects and people of Greater Manchester is the focus of Manchester Voices – a project which celebrated a launch evening on 22nd June at Manchester Central Library.

The launch marked the opening to the public of various installations and exhibitions in the library where people can engage with accent in an interactive way. This followed a tour by the Manchester Voices team in a specially-designed Accents Van around ten boroughs in Greater Manchester, gathering public perceptions.

Manchester Voices is not just a physical exhibit, but an ongoing project which can be visited online and involves gathering public perceptions of accent, dialect and language change. People were encouraged to engage with social media over the course of the evening under the hashtag #MCRVoices.

The launch evening began with a wine reception in the library’s performance space and a line-up of guest speakers up until the official opening of the exhibition area at 7pm.

There was a special appearance from Lord Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham early in the evening. Andy emphasized the positivity of the project and also discussed his own accent and involvement:

“It’s not always popular here to say that yes, I was born in Liverpool,” he laughed. He also mentioned that as the family moved nearer to Manchester due to his father’s job, his accent changed – and it is the changeability of accent which was a key theme of the evening.

Introducing the project itself were Dr Rob Drummond and Dr Erin Carrie, two sociolinguists from Manchester Metropolitan University.  As organisers, they explained the motivation for Manchester Voices, including their interest in language change and the prejudices people have about accents. They also discussed the process of talking to the general public in the Accent Vans.

The Accent Vans involved inviting members of the public inside in various locations in the boroughs and asking them questions regarding perception of accents.

They also thanked the number of people and organisations who have made the ongoing nature of the project possible – including the staff at Manchester Libraries and in the Archives team, the researchers and Manchester Metropolitan University.

The academic context was followed with three speakers, all who celebrated dialect through poetry in very different ways. First to the public stage of the performance space was Jardel Rodrigues, a dub-poet from the Old Trafford area who delivered fast-paced spoken word inspired by rap and grime music. One of his pieces paid homage to this, in the form of ‘Grimeaholic’ – and he outlined themes of difficult childhoods, frustration and our ability to rise above.

Rodrigues was followed by Sid Calderbank who read a range of traditional dialect poetry, some dating back to the 19th century which Drummond introduced as: “And now for something completely different!”

Calderbank performed a number of pieces from the Rochdale-born poet Edwin Waugh, explaining that this man allowed himself both to become ‘a student and master of traditional dialect’ and included traditional Lancashire verses such as ‘Come whoam to thi childer an’ me’.

Headliner ‘Argh Kid’ followed, a Manchester poet making an impression on an international scale. Delivering poetry he has described as ‘Pub-Toilet Sink Realism’, he treated the audience to a selection of Manchester-influenced verses, including the poet’s own reflection on his childhood in Longsight and growing up in the area. He also talked about his connections to Christopher Eccleston, work with Manchester Tourist Board and new role as Poet Laureate at Kendal Calling 2017 – highlighting the growing popularity of spoken-word poetry.

The rousing performance from ‘Argh Kid’ was received with great warmth by the audience and was followed by Dr Drummond and Dr Carrie giving thanks and declaring the ‘Manchester Voices’ exhibition officially open to the public.

Attendees were then invited to interact with the exhibition, located in the library’s ground floor main exhibition space – containing video and audio clips in the ‘pod’ areas, providing documentary footage of public interaction with the Accent Vans. These interactions were gathered as the Manchester Voices team visited all ten Greater Manchester boroughs between 27th August and 1st September 2016.

Also on display via a digital board was a large interactive dialect map, created after locals were invited to draw shapes on a map of the region representing where they thought people spoke differently from each other. They were asked to describe the dialects with words and sounds that characterised them. This was also displayed in banner-form, with the boroughs outlined and the responses given.

‘Argh Kid’ said after his performance, “It was a great thing to be part of.” He also commented that delivering poetry in dialect was “the way it should be done, people respond to it.” Poet Jardell also remarked that he wanted to show that poetry could be “Cool… not just a boring activity associated with rich white men.”

The Manchester Voices exhibition is set to be open free to the public throughout the Summer and includes the opportunity for people to add their own views and experiences to the project. There was a book for people to leave their additions on launch night and also headphones so they could listen to audio feedback of others. Visitors are also encouraged to visit the website for more information on when the researchers themselves will be available to speak to in the library regarding the project, with dates to be announced.

You can find out more about Manchester Voices here and view our full gallery of images from the event below.

About the author / 

Humanity Hallows
Humanity Hallows

Humanity Hallows is Manchester Metropolitan University's official student magazine.

More News Stories:

  • Creative Writing Summer School 2018 at The Manchester Writing School

    By JP Burns The Manchester Writing School at Manchester Metropolitan University hosts the annual Creative Writing Summer School at their current base, Number 70 Oxford Street. It’s a two day programme organised by manager of the Writing School James Draper and academic director Adam O’Riordan. It’s made up of a series of workshops and talks…

  • Parklife 2018: Glitter, Girls and Rock ‘n’ Roll

    By Georgina Hurdsfield Photography: Georgina Hurdsfield  This weekend saw the annual return of Parklife festival, catering to fans of electronic, dance, indie and grime. The curators of Parklife have certainly found their feet at Heaton Park, stepping up their organisation of the site and increasingly impressive line-ups. This year music fans from all over Greater…

  • Don’t Blame Jack: A short-film exploring self-love and acceptance

    By Pierangelly Del Rio 2017 saw the rise of acclaimed LGBT movies such as Call Me By Your Name, God’s Own Country and the award-winning Moonlight. Similarly, it was a winning year for mental health awareness with the #HereForYou and UOKM8? Inviting people to open up about their mental struggles and asking for support an…

  • The Lapsed Clubber Audio Map Launch at The People’s History Museum

    By JP Burns The Manchester rave scene was an internationally known cultural phenomenon through the 80s and 90s, with such famous icons and exports as The Hacienda, New Order, The Happy Mondays, Primal Scream and 808 State. Films like 24 Hour Party People and books like Dave Haslam’s Manchester, England have served as popular testaments…