The inevitable accent change when you move to Manchester for uni

Stop trying to fit in

A piece of advice often given to you by your parents before you leave for uni is “don’t pick up the accent”. In hindsight, wasn’t it the most valuable? We’ve all heard more than a few southerners attempt a questionable Manchester accent, maybe throwing in a “y’arright” or a “Man-ches-tah”, though it’s debatable as to whether they’ve really picked this up after a few months in the city. Equally, the odd northern student will try to tone down their accent, maybe switching their “yeah” for a “yaaah”.

The classic transitioning of accent at university can be split into four stages, each of which are painfully tragic.

Adopting your flatmate’s northern twang

Every fresher has been there. There’s something infectious about a northern accent. It’s so easy to slip into extending your vowels or dropping words from your sentences (students are lazy – they’re going to love anything which makes speaking less effort). Maybe it’s the friendliness of the northerners, that sense of familiarity in a northern greeting, which makes it so appealing. It’s not as if you notice it’s happening, it starts with the odd word, changing “cuppa” to “brew”, and from there it’s a snowball effect. That relaxed, warm tone of voice makes it easy to adopt a twang. They do say the north is friendlier.

Slipping into your posh course mate’s voice

That northern lilt is swiftly whipped out of you when you get to your seminar and realise everyone is southern. After a few weeks at uni the educational aspect of your university life becomes a cacophony of “yaaah” and “gap yaaah” and “Antwerp yaaah”. It’s embarrassing that in these situations putting on a slighter posher voice seems a better option that sticking to your roots. Embarrassing, but sadly true – it happens to the best of us. Before you know it you’re saying “magic bas”, or speaking slower than ever necessary, dragging out every syllable. It’s an exhausting time.

Trying to be ‘East London’ in Fallowfield

Fallowfield’s edgy vibes are infamous of Manchester students. There seems to be a trend in middle class students feeling the need to adopt some east London accent when they come to the city. Maybe it’s trying to fit in as the cool kid with the “common” accent sounding like you’ve stepped straight out of Shoreditch. Does it sound ludicrous to attempt cockney slang to slot into Manchester life with ease? Fallowfield’s full of it.

Being bought back down to earth when you visit home

Remember that piece of advice your parents gave you before you left? Coming home from university for the holidays means it all comes back to you, and yes, you feel like an idiot. Your mum and dad catch you out from the odd phrase and you question why you ever strayed from what you know. At home, saying “Man-ches-tah” seems ridiculous, and extending your “yah” is more effort than it’s worth.

It’s easy to ignore the whole “remember where you came from” bullshit, but it becomes vitally important when you move away from home. Just stick to what you know, kids.