£120k for research project on dialects

Two major research projects to investigate Black Country and Birmingham dialects are being launched by Aston University.

Two major research projects to investigate Black Country and Birmingham dialects are being launched by Aston University.

The £120,000 projects are the first of their kind to look at the ways in which people in the region engage with and use dialects. Researchers will document and investigate the way that people speak in Birmingham and the Black Country through the analysis of imaginative performance texts such as poetry, comedy and live music.

One of the first recordings will take place at a weekly comedy night at The Hollybush in Cradley Heath tomorrow.

One of the project’s managers is Dr Esther Asprey who completed a PhD in Black Country English and Black Country Identity.

Dr Asprey, said: “We will be recording live performance events ranging from comedy gigs, live music events and poetry readings, and interviewing the performers and four members of the audience at each event.

“We are also collecting archive data relating to written performance and literary texts produced since 1900. We would like our research to contribute to a current debate in regional dialect research which is looking at how factors such as social class, gender, race and ethnicity may be resources that speakers actively draw upon to create unique voices, rather than determinants of how they speak and write.”

With her will be Dr Urszula Clark, deputy director for the Aston Centre for Interdisciplinary Research in Language and Diversity, and performance poet and musician Brian Dakin, from Tower Road, Tividale, who is working on a PhD on dialect and social history.

The results of the research will be made available through public lectures, the Black Country Society and a website called West Midlands English: Speech and Society.

Historian and Express & Star columnist Professor Carl Chinn said he fully supported the project.

“It is about who we. The Irish in the west of Ireland who speak Gaelic have a saying ‘a people who lose their language lose their soul’. If we lose our language we become clones of everybody else with no distinction, no colour and no variety.”

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Comments for: "£120k for research project on dialects"


Fantastic..Once again money wasted on stupid research in our universities that will be of no benefit to man kind what so ever!!

Perhaps the money could be better spent of medical research????

Riaz Khan

I agree with stjoe. This may be interesting but money should be spend on research that increases our knowledge about diseases for example, or that can create more jobs (such as research into renewable energy, rechargeable batteries for electric cars etc etc. ie research that would benefit the region and the UK.)

Rob H

What a waste of money by the Universities!!!!

Derek Turner

What a complete waste of time and money.

urszula clark

An important part of the project's work is to change people's attitudes and perceptions towards the accents of the West Midlands. Such attitudes and perceptions affect aspects of people's lives such as employment in a very real and concrete way.

For example, a study undertaken at Bath Spa University, showed that, in terms of the public's attitudes towrads accents, it was better to remain silent than to speak with a Birmingham accent. Other research also shows that although employers are not supposed to discriminate in terms of how someone speaks, that actually, they do. There is no linguistic base whatsoever to such negative perceptions, yet they remain deeply ingrained in the British psyche.


How will this change attitudes of people towards us? We all know that most people outside of Birmingham think the accent makes Brummies sound thick. We don't need Thousands of pounds worth of research to tell us that.

What we need is linguist schools so people can get rid of the accent and sound more business like..so to speak! Accents are what makes an area and gives it charecter. It doesn't need silly research and wasted money on getting the country to accept Brummies for what they are.


Bath spa! ..HAhahahahahaha enough said.


Agree with the above total waste of public money


I'd like to learn why we're the only people in the UK to say "Mom" rather" than "Mum"

I've seen many an online argument regarding the use of the word "Mom", where those using it have been told not to use Americanisms and their explanation that people have always called their mothers "mom" in the Black Country has been scoffed at by those in the rest of the UK.

So what's the history surrounding it? Why are we the only area of the UK to use the word "Mom" rather than "Mum" and did the Americans get it from us?


I agree - there is a phenomenal amount of misplaced prejudice against the Black Country and Brum accent and dialects. Surely this is also about preserving what we have.

PJW Holland

What perfect timing!


This is a "soap box" subject for me as it really brasses me off the way our heritage and accents are mocked by all and sundry. Comedians on the TV always fall back on our accents to get a laugh. If they wish to portray someone who is thick they do a Brummie accent. If its a simpleton they do a Dudley or Gornal accent.

Examples include Peter Sellers in "Heavens Above" where he plays a drippy vicar. Dick Emery in his shows. I don't approve of Lenny Henry using his accent to get laughs either as it only perpetuates the myth that all Midlanders are thick.

It is also true that once our accent is demeaned it ruins life chances for Midland people when they go for interviews even though they may be by far the best candidate.

Jasper Carrot pointed this out when some big show came to Birmingham. The BBC asked Terry Wogan (Irish) and Ulreka Johnson (Swedish) to compare it. As Jasper said "Don't ask me to do it - I only live here"

The rest of the population don't mind our accents when they are using the products invented and made in the Midlands.

Villa YamYam

Good luck with the research. Important we don't just follow 'Daily Mail' type comments we see above. This is about the understanding and preservation of local culture. Would we really want a country that spoke entirely with BBC received pronunciation? Analysing linguistics in this way helps us to understand our history and our present a little more.

Why do Brummies lengthen their 'a' sounds like southerners? They say laugh like 'laarf'. We Black Country folk on the other hand say 'laff'.

Is our accent/language/speech closer to our Anglo-Saxon heritage than the Franco-leaning south?

Fascinating stuff


Funnily enough "laugh" is the only word I've heard Brummies pronounce as an "ar" sound rather than a "a" sound. They don't seem to do it with other words. Like us Blackcountry folk they seem to say "bath" rather than "barth" and "ask" rather than "arsk" so, yes why do they say "larf" rather than "laff"?


Or "loff" I suppose.LOL (Loff out loud?)


Take care!!

Be sure the prejudice does not come from within. I have successfully moved to the south west and have a pretty serious job which requires that others respect what I have to say. I have not experienced the thick yam yam knock backs some contributors are describing.

Sometimes the only thing holding us back is ourselves!!!!

It is not how you say it, its what you say.

As a region we should try being a little more positive.


Don't you believe it Buz. I have moved away from the Midlands and, despite being born in Wednesbury, every local I speak to always says " are you a Brummie?" in a vaugely mocking manner. I am getting to the point when one day I will say "no I am not a Brummie but if I was does it matter?"


Let's not forget, this isn't just about accent (larf vs laff, mom vs mum etc.) but about DIALECT, something that those outside the Black Country/Brum know little about. There is a whole raft of unique words, phrases and grammar that are in use here that you don't find anywhere else. Ar bay kiddin ya.

Born And Bred

Why oh why. The dialects will never change. Black Country born and bred and all I can say is

'What yow gonna accomplish with this, yow ay gotta clue have ya, who was it who got their thinking yead on for this' - remember 'H' is for Oss and Yo am wasting ya time :-)

joseph baggot

First of all I'm a Wolverhampton lad not a "Brummie", secondly I don't give a damn what people think about my accent I'm proud of my accent and my heritage.

What I am concerned about is this blatant waste of money in these troubled times, there are far more important things and people that need help. Stop worrying about what other people think about you and start thinking about what you think of yourself.


These middle class academics may feel some fascination and a sense of adventure about accents/dialects.For many working class west midlanders,this is a reality.As the Who sang in 'You won't get fooled again'-'meet the new boss,sames as the old boss'.The working class continue to be pushed down!

Ian Holloway

I think this is a hugely important piece of work and I will be interested to see the result. As I understand it, the blackcountry accent has some long routes stretching to old English and Saxon. Our routes are very important and I think as a region we should be proud of our accent and our culture.