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USE YOUR VOICE: Largest language research project in Greater Manchester’s history needs your help

Four Manchester Metropolitan University researchers are asking for volunteers to help them conduct the borough’s biggest sociolinguistic project.

Andy Drummond, Erin Carrie, Sadie Ryan and Holly Dann have organised the project in order to gain a deeper understanding of the accents and dialects of the area, the attitudes towards them and how this affects identity.

The idea for the project began in 2016 by Carrie and Drummond and has recently secured funding from the Arts and Humanities Council.

The researchers are appealing for anybody who has lived in one borough in Greater Manchester their whole life to record themselves through a purpose-built website.

Participants can submit a recording of their voice talking through a virtual map, created especially due to the pandemic.

As well as this, the team have created an online podcasting programme, available to all school- children in the Greater Manchester region. This allows students to learn about language, podcast creation and editing, with the best submissions receiving a mystery prize.

Sadie Ryan said: “‘It’s the most accessible, in terms of trying different approaches. It can uncover about what people think of the way they speak.”

The collection of excerpts will become part of a permanent interactive installation at Manchester Central Library and an online and in- person archive.

The research will also be created into multiple linguistic papers for scholars and researchers to analyse, becoming the first of its kind in the area.

Researcher Andy Drummond said: “Ultimately we’ll be able to map where the different accents and dialects are in GM and the attributes surrounding them. Like where the most friendly sounding accents are.

Rather than us coming in as language experts listening to people speak, telling them about their language. It’s much more about us learning from them about the way they use language.

Not everybody sees Greater Manchester as a cohesive whole anyway – which is part of the reason for doing it.”

The project hopes to mark the heritage of the area, as well as embrace the county’s identity.

Submission for the map recordings close this weekend. To find out more visit: https://www.manchestervoices.org/submit-your-voice/

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