Understanding UK accents: Liverpool and Scouse
The English accent varies greatly depending on where you are visiting in the UK. Some linguists might even tell you the accent changes every twenty miles! We’ll leave you to learn if that is true or not for yourself. If you happen to be visiting the north of England any time soon and want recommendations, you can’t go wrong with a city as beautiful as Liverpool. Here is a quick peek at this famous, historical city, as well as the accent of the locals – Scouse.
Liverpool is a port city in the UK, home to almost 492,000 people. The Liverpool metropolitan area is the fifth largest in the UK with around 2.24 million. It has good connections with the rest of the country through both the rail and motorway network, and an international airport. Liverpool is also a popular destination for those taking the ferry over from Ireland. The city of Liverpool is more than 800 years old, so it comes with a lot of history – though not all of it good. Liverpool was the port of registry for the RMS Titanic, and its city merchants were involved in the Atlantic slave trade.
The Liverpool accent and the people of Liverpool – Liverpudlians – are often looked down on by the rest of the country, for no good reason at all. Liverpudlian – or more commonly, Scouse – is usually seen as, well, common, or brash. Scouse is the favorite accent for people to try to imitate, and when they can’t do that, mock. Which is grossly unfair; we might be biased, but we think all accents are beautiful!
As if you didn’t already know! The most famous, and arguably perhaps the first boy band, The Beatles, are from Liverpool, and their presence is everywhere! From The Cavern club to the museum The Beatles Story, Liverpool is rightly proud of its four most famous sons. There are other musicians from the city that you may have heard of; everyone from Gerry and the Pacemakers to Frankie Goes To Hollywood. And if football is more your thing than music, well, there are plenty of them from Liverpool too; the likes of Steven Gerrard and Wayne Rooney, for example.
Some accent samples
Want to hear the Scouse accent before you try to replicate it yourself? Well, that is wise! Here is English Like A Native giving you a taster of how it sounds. Though if you really want to hear true Liverpudlians speak Scouse then try Youtuber KoreanBilly, who gets Liverpool Locals Teaching Scouse.
A cultural influence…
Liverpool has something for everyone, and its influence has crept into many parts of society nationwide. The Liverpool music scene has had a major influence on music throughout the country and across the world. Bands like The Beatles were at the forefront of the Beat Music movement back in the 1960s. And away from the music scene, Liverpool is also home to Aintree, the world’s most famous steeple-chase, the Grand National. Days out at Aintree are big enough events to rival Ascot, which tells you something about this famous horserace and track!
So, what makes Scouse stand out from the rest of the UK’s accents? Scouse is spoken at a higher pitch than most UK accents, and along with its rising intonations can sound very sing song to those who aren’t used to it. The unique sound of Scouse is thanks to the accent predominantly being spoken at the front of the mouth; it is as though the words are pressed up against your lips and teeth. The most noticeable difference is the letter T; if it starts a word it becomes more like TS in sound; tree sounds more like tsree, and town more like tsown. In the middle of words it is mostly replaced by the S sound; butter might come out more like busser.
A little lingo
Finally, a little Scouse for you to practice with so you don’t stick out like a sore thumb! Anyone who is from one of the provincial towns outside of Liverpool is referred to as a wool, or woolyback. If you are disappointed you are devoed; perhaps if you’ve bought some fake (jarg) goods that really do look like a knock-off! Men are often referred to as lads or fellas which is all fairly polite, yet for women they are often birds; make up your own mind if you want to use that one! If someone tells you to swerve, they’re telling you to avoid something (like referring to someone as a bird, for example…). And lastly, pepper in as many likes as you, um, like. Because in Scouse they are used liberally and freely without any rhyme or reason!
The Liverpool accent is one of the sunniest, happiest, friendliest accents in the UK in our opinion; though what do you think? If you’re studying British English, does the Scouse accent stand out to you compared with other accents? If all of the British accents are confusing, we hear you, and are here to help; why not consider getting in touch? Our native-speaking tutors can design a course specific to your needs. Drop us a quick inquiry today!