Geordie Phonology

The Geordie Vowel Sounds

The table below lists all the vowel sounds used in a Geordie accent according to lexical set. The phonetician, John Wells, introduced in his book, Accents of English (1982), the concept of using a single word to refer to the pronunciation of a particular group of English words. He calls these word-groups lexical sets and uses a key word, such as KIT, to identify them. Follow the link below for these vowels as pronounced by RP speakers.

The second column lists all the possible spellings for words in each group, while the third column gives the symbol used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to represent the vowel sound used by speakers with a Geordie accent for words in each set. You will find these IPA symbols in a dictionary where pronunciations of words are included. Click on a sound file to listen to a speaker with a Geordie accent using the target vowel.

Listen to the Geordie accent

As with any variety of English, Geordie includes a wide range of speakers — from broad dialect to speakers with only a faint hint of a Tyneside accent. In the table, Broad Geordie refers to pronunciations associated with dialect speakers, while other entries identify pronunciations more common in careful speech or among certain social groups, such as older speakers, the middle classes or females. There are also a number of audio clips that illustrate alternative pronunciations of certain words. Some are restricted to individual words, others are archaic pronunciations that echo earlier forms of English, but nonetheless have survived. The right-hand column gives examples of words where these alternative pronunciations exist.

lexical set (key word) spelling alternatives IPA symbol sound file alternative pronunciations
KIT king, symphony note also minute, England /ɪ/

I’ve seen me dig fifty, sixty yards at, you know

Dress pen, bread, any note also friend, bury, leisure, Geoffrey, says, said and unstressed forms of ate & again /ɛ/

from there we move up into the West End of Newcastle

see also head etc. below

Trap glad note also timbre, plait /a/

there was a, an oil tank, I think it was, installed around the back

see also have etc. below

broad Geordie

Trap
glad note also timbre, plait /æ/

uh, we used to sit on top of the helmet and put our frock over the top and turn the handle

Bath glass note also laugh /a/

and at the top of this little footpath which led to the yard there used to be the bus-stop

see also master etc. below

LOT dog, want, laurel note also knowledge, bureaucracy /ɒ/

but we had mosques, not purpose-built mosques; we've always had, like, places to, to worship, but this was a, a purpose-built mosque

broad Geordie

LOT
dog, want, laurel note also knowledge, bureaucracy /œ/

and, uh, when my mother was a little lassie that was her job to gan away and fetch the cows in for milking at night-time

Cloth

off, salt, cough, austere

/ɒ/

I don't think the top come off properly

Strut cup, brother, double, blood note also does /ʊ/

your muscles would pump up, you know and you

see also one etc. and among etc. below

middle class Geordie (especially females)

Strut
cup, brother, double, blood note also does /ə/

uhm, just up from us are four, uhm, council run emergency housing, and they’re blocks of flats

Foot cushion, wood, woman, should note also Worcester /ʊ/

they didn’t want me in a gang, unless I was, I had to be really good and prove I was as good as them if not better

see also words ending orthographically in <-ook> below

Fleece keep, bead, scene, machine, piece, receive note also key, quay, people, phoenix /i:/

no, the, the, the peat, it was easy to ignite, but it burnt away quick, so you had to have a good supply of peats

Fleece

only words with a root that ends in a vowel

see, sea note also key, quay /ɪi/

there was these big trees

Nurse serve, bird, hurt, learn, work, journey note also colonel & myrtle /ø:/

you were the chaff laddie to start with — that was the dirtiest job on the thresher, was the chaff laddie, there’s no doubt about that

broad Geordie

Nurse
serve, bird, hurt, learn, work, journey note also colonel & myrtle /ɔ:/

and the first pint didn't touch the sides, you know, because you were thirsty

Palm

rather, half

/ɒ:/

so you really you can’t appreciate how, how, uh, you know, when you see poor people, you know, how, how they are, how they are feeling

see also father etc. below

Start barn, heart, clerk note also French loan words such as reservoir and memoir /ɒ:/

so we didn’t, we, we didn't actually starve, because we could always go down the allotments and help ourselves

North

cork, door, board, war

/ɔ:/

the corn coming out one end and the chaff and the straw coming out the other

see also words starting orthographically with <wa-> below

Thought brought, caught, talk, draw note also broad, water /ɔ:/

and then I realised and I thought, ‘Crikey, the people who are in here!’

see also <al-> + consonant and words starting orthographically with <wa-> below

Goose moon, super, move, glue, fruit, brew note also shoe and beauty /u:/

well, as I say, one big living room, two bedrooms

see also do etc. below
Goose

only words with a root that ends in a vowel

too, glue, brew note also shoe /ɪʊ/

you’ve been through it, but not, and I'll say, ‘Not as bad as yous

Face game, tray, plain, reign, they, great note also gauge, gaol and French loan words such as café, ballet & foyer /e:/

and of course when you got the chance you weren’t far away from the coast; it didn’t take, you know, them days it took you longer than it does today

see also yesterday etc. below

broad Geordie

Face
game, tray, plain, reign, they, great note also gauge, gaol and French loan words such as café, ballet & foyer /ɪə/

and I set the pace, and uh, it was, it was great

Goat home, show, boat, toe note also sew, brooch, mauve and French loan words such as plateau /o:/

both daughters had left home

see also over and polysyllabic words ending orthographically in <-old> and <-ow> below

broad Geordie (especially older males)

Goat
home, show, boat, toe note also sew, brooch, mauve and French loan words such as plateau /ʊə/

I always had the fear that I wasn't ganning to be working, because that was always on the back of your mind: that you were ganning to be on the dole

broad Geordie (exclusively males)

GOAT
home, show, boat, toe note also sew, brooch, mauve and French loan words such as plateau /ɵ:/

everybody had a garden where they used to grow their own supplies and most people kept a few hens

PRICE mind, lie, shy, night note also I, eye, buy, either, height, aisle, maestro and German loan words such as zeitgeist /ɛɪ/

and the bus used to come once in the morning and once at night-time

see also words ending orthographically in <-ight> below
MOUTH

shout, down

/əʊ/

I think they've got picnic tables in it and that now

contemporary Geordie (especially females)

MOUTH

shout, down

/ɛʉ/

when people say, oh there's two-thousand plus or three-thousand plus homeless people in Newcastle

broad Geordie (exclusively males)

MOUTH

shout, down

/u:/

so down below it, you know, as you gan up the bank, gan over the little bridge, the church is on the right, there's a house stands there, or is it two houses, is that two cottages?

CHOICE coin, toy note also buoy /ɔɪ/

and there was a big boiler, big pot-boiler where you popped the clothes in and boiled them up

NEAR

beer, clear, here

note also weird and words such as brill iant, idea, area, stadium, spaniel, creosote, onion and lascivious
/ɪa/

up here in the north

SQUARE stare, chair, where, bear, heir note also aeroplane, mayor, prayer and French loan words such as premiere /e:/

my grandson, he, he goes up to the comp. up there

broad Geordie

SQUARE
stare, chair, where, bear, heir note also aeroplane, mayor, prayer and French loan words such as premiere /ɛa/

prayers is important in Islam, because it's, uhm, it's one of the Five Pillars of Islam

CURE

poor, tour, sure

/ʊa/

and it's an honour, I look on it as an honour to feel poor

Geordie Pronunciation of Weak Syllables

lexical set (key word) spelling alternatives IPA symbol sound file alternative pronunciations
happy

happy, beautiful, valley, coffee, bodies

note also yesterday and days of the week such as Monday
/i~i:/

the special needs are funny

see also yesterday etc. below
letter~comma

paper, centre, leisure, colour, doctor, sugar, martyr, zebra

/a/

and in the winter your days are shorter

horses 3rd person suffix in verbs such as pushes and plural suffix in nouns such as foxes and daisies /ə/

the, the housewife just tipped all the ashes in there

wasted past tense marker in verbs such as landed and participial adjectives such as excited /ə/

then we got a black-and-white television - which we rented

morning the present participle suffix in verbs such as reading and writing, on nouns such as morning and ceiling and on pronouns such as something and nothing /ə/

and then she’d make a nice suet pudding, either apple pudding or blackberry pudding

longest, chicken, service, mallET, villAGE, massIVE, etc. the suffix in superlatives such as biggest and adjectives such as active and the final syllable of nouns such as surface, office, cricket, college, sausage, forest and biscuit /ə/

they come down and, and use the kitchen

so I was allowed to work in the managing director’s office

doesn’t matter how much you’ve got in your pocket

some people kept a rabbit, you know and you could get a rabbit pie and this sort of thing

which was true: I had sausage, black pudding, bacon bones, you know

carrots, little white turnips, beans, peas

CONtinue, COMputer etc. the prefix in verbs such as complain and confirm, adjectives such as complete and contented and nouns such as component and container /ɒ/

there's, uh, that thing called scrapie in sheep, which they said may have started BSE, although I'm not convinced

Examples of Lexical Variation in Geordie

key word / word group other examples IPA symbol/sound sound file
among etc. the words among and amongst [ɒ]

there was these big trees and we used to play amongst them

do etc. the words do, to and who [i:]

if a horse was doing that I think the RSPCA would, they would have something to say about it

did you get caught? why no, because I mean, oh they, they knew who we were, but they never, they never, ever caught we

father etc. words such as aunt, father, grandfather and half [a]

there used to be a, this would be the good room where anybody that, of any importance that came as a guest would be put - mebbies a, a, a favourite auntie or something like that, or, or mebbies, a, a, a special friend

and my grandfather would load up the sledge with hay

but they were always back at half past ten

have etc. forms of the verb have – had, has, have and having [ɛ]

‘Oh yes,’ he said, I says, ‘You have had a long run, haven’t you!’

head etc. nouns such as bread and head and adjectives such as deaf and dead [i:]

I mean I'm lucky. I've been lucky - dead lucky!

know etc. historically also other monosyllabic words ending orthographically in <-ow>, such as blow, snow and throw - nowadays it is restricted to the verb know, especially in the discourse tag, you know [a: ~ ɑ:]

and I mean, you cannot work like that - at the time I didn’t know: I was too, too thick to realise

master etc. the words master and plaster [ɑ:]

if I remember rightly, the headmaster, or the headmistress used to live just below there

Newcastle

stress on medial syllable, not first syllable

homeless people in Newcastle

one etc. the words one, once, none and nothing [ɒ]

it was amazing – nothing like what you see in 1999, when you’re having your little cruise down the Tyne; nothing like that at all

we got a new gang up there one day

none of the farms had enough men for the thresher, so you helped your neighbours

and about once a week, or whenever it was necessary, uh, the council man would come with his horse and cart

over etc the <v> sound is omitted in the word over, reflecting an older regional form, o’er, now only used in dialect or in archaic or poetic texts [aʊ]

and they would pull the sledge for, oh mebbies about a mile-and-a-half over the back of the hills to where the sheep were

yesterday etc. yesterday, holiday and days of the week such as Monday [ə]

I think I used it for about five weeks while that job went on, cause the school was on holiday for the five or six weeks period

<al-> + consonant words featuring <al-> followed by a consonant, such as the adjectives and adverbs all, almost, altogether and always, verbs such as talk and walk or call and fall and nouns such as ball and wall [a:]

and that’s all your life was

jobs divven’t always last

they called this the granary

they are putting them right and putting troops into them rather than, uh, than just let them fall down, you know

you know how to talk to them

if there was any kind of sleepwalking to be done they would have to pass the farmer and his wife

and, uh, the walls are crumbling now, but they used to be all plastered

<-ight> words ending orthographically in <-ight>, such as light, night, right and sight [i:]

I got on the bus with them the other night, you know and, uh

<-old> words ending orthographically in <-old>, such as old, cold and hold [a:]

so that’s all the one line of buildings: we’ve got the old house and we’ve got the stable where the horse was and we’ve got the byre

<ook> words ending orthographically in <ook>, such as book, cook, hook, look, took and shook [ʏ:]

it was all good fun, you could nearly write a book about the threshing days, you could

we cook at the mosque

lots of hooks to, to hang the pans on

they, they built the, the new house in 1961, which looks it’s, like it’s been dropped out of the sky; it doesn’t look natural at all, you know

usually took about a week, you know, one day to do the washing and another day to do the ironing and

<-ow> polysyllabic words ending orthographically in <-ow>, such as the verbs borrow and follow, adjectives like hollow and yellow and nouns such as arrow and window [ə]

follow the blue star

and they’re all, all of a similar sort of, uh, sort of thing: uh, it was one room; usually very high windows

<wa-> words starting orthographically with <wa->, such as want, warm, was, wasp, watch, water [a]
(warm with [a:])

and it was lovely and warm

and, uh, the peat would be burning away on the fire and it would mebbies boil a bit of water or make a bit of jam or whatever the ladies was doing at the time, you know