This recording is an example of a Hull accent.
A number of features of Jessica’s accent reveal a great deal about different aspects of her identity. Listen first to the way she pronounces the vowel sounds in words in the following three sets:
- skateboarding, play, same, anyway, mates, stay, ages, rave and stayed
- hardly, can’t, Leonardo, aren’t, grandma’s and party
- her, first, work, journalism, prefer, Burton and girlfriend
Her pronunciation of the first two sets can be heard among speakers across a large area of northern England, including most of Yorkshire, Lancashire and parts of Cumbria. The type of vowel she uses in the third set, however, is heard in a much smaller area – the city of Hull and the surrounding area of Humberside. This illustrates how certain pronunciation features are regionally specific, while others have only local currency.
Age and gender influences
Now listen to the way she pronounces the vowel sound in words in the following set:
- no, don’t know, go, Jodie, own, wardrobe, though, so, older, goes, home, sociology, loads, Leonardo DiCaprio and most.
This type of pronunciation has received a great deal of academic attention recently as it appears to be on the increase. It is not the traditional ‘Yorkshire’ pronunciation of this vowel, nor is it a more prestigious, ‘middle class’ RP-type pronunciation. In fact it is a relatively new pronunciation that appears to have originated in Hull, but is spreading very rapidly into surrounding areas of Yorkshire, particularly among female speakers. This illustrates how certain pronunciation features can be gender-specific.
Other pronunciation features might reveal something about the age of a speaker. Listen, for instance, to the way Jessica frequently substitutes a glottal stop for a <t> sound and a <f> or <v> sound for words that feature <th> in the spelling. The following words and phrases are good examples:
- it is, knock about in, winter, little, right up at that end, community, at home, whatever, party, we get on and quite a lot
- anything, think, things, bothered, whether, otherwise, Withernsea, with, other and another
This sort of pronunciation appears to be on the increase among younger speakers across the whole of the country and is therefore an age-specific feature. It is typical of teenage speech throughout the UK as is Jessica’s frequent use of the ‘filler’, like, in phrases such as it’s all right, but there’s, like, hardly anything to do so I think they should just, like, put somewhere we can, we can, like, knock about in.
Variety and local trends
Commentators are quick to identify new linguistic trends – such as T-glottaling or the apparently redundant repetition of the filler like as in the statement I knew, like, everyone round here, though, cause, like, I’d lived here before, so it was all right. Unfortunately, however, they often mistakenly use them to suggest that we are all beginning to sound alike. In ‘unpicking’ certain aspects of Jessica’s speech, we can see that she does indeed share many features with young speakers across the country, but then her age is an important part of her linguistic identity – after all, few of us talk exactly like our parents, who, in turn rarely sound identical to their parents. Equally important, however, is Jessica’s geographical background, and as we can hear, she has a good deal in common with speakers of all ages in her local area. Finally, Jessica is a girl, and so some of her linguistic habits can even be shown to be peculiarly female.
About the speaker
Jessica Hardcastle (b.1983/10/18; female, school pupil)
Lucy: What’s it like here?
Jessica: It’s, it is, it’s all right, but there’s, like, hardly anything to do. So I think they should just, like, put somewhere we can, we can, like, knock about in, but, no, I don’t know.
Lucy: So what do you do when you’re out of school? What do you get up to?
Jessica: Well, I go for my best mate, who lives round the corner. She’s called Jodie. And on a, in a winter, we, like, just stay in her house or watch the kid, like, all the lads skateboarding and that. That’s it, really.
Lucy: But it’s not very interesting, then. Is there not much to do?
Jessica: No there’s not, not much.
Lucy: Was it better, what were things like when you were younger and you lived here?
Jessica: I don’t know, we just found things to do, do you know, when I was little. And I used to, like, if she wasn’t playing or aught I used to play on my own and just find something to entertain myself.
Lucy: Like, can you remember what sort of things?
Jessica: Uh, no, I can’t remember. Just, like, play with my toys and that and, like, take my prams out and things like that. That, that’s it.
Lucy: Can you tell me what your bedroom’s like here and how it, how it connects with, uhm, with your sister’s and how it fits into the house and everything.
Jessica: Well, like mine, I wanted mine, like, peach and green, but mum did it like my sister’s as well. We’ve got the same bedcovers and that and, like, I’ve got pine, like, wardrobe and things. Uhm, I don’t know.
Lucy: And can you tell me how it just sort of connects to …
Jessica: Oh, well, it’s … when we first moved here it was, like, two bedrooms and this was the bigger one, but we put a wall down the middle, so it’s two separate ones.
Lucy: And why did you move here?
Jessica: Uhm. Well, we lived in the flat and then Kelsey was born and then moved into an house, but it, we didn’t like it, cause it was right up that end and we’re used to living round here. Cause we used to live in a flat round the corner. And then we got this one. And then I knew, like, everyone round here, though, cause, like, I’d lived here before, so it was all right. We only lived there for about five weeks there.
Lucy: And how come, you were, you were saying or, that, that, uhm, it’s not, you don’t live with your real dad here, he’s your stepfather.
Jessica: Yeah. When I was two, like, my dad left us – I think I was two anyway. So, like, I’ve never seen him since then, but I aren’t that bothered about it, cause I thought, well, if he doesn’t want to see me, then fine. But I’d like to see, like, meet him when I’m older and see, like, whether he thinks about me and that. But I aren’t really bothered about it, cause he’s like a real dad to me, so …
Lucy: So your stepfather’s like a real dad to you?
Jessica: Yeah. Yeah.
Lucy: And what, what, how, how does it work out in the family? How do you kind of, you know, share things out or do things together or do your own things?
Jessica: Well I don’t know, really.
Lucy: Tell me, I mean, sorry, carry on.
Jessica: I don’t know.
Lucy: If it, if it’s, like, the weekend, what happens? What do you all get up to? Do you do things together or do you …?
Jessica: No, we just do us separate things. Like I go out and, like, my mum, I don’t know, sits at home watching telly or she goes round to clean the Community Centre or she goes to my grandma’s or, but, like, me and my mate go swimming and that. Or just, like, sit down and listen to music in her house. That’s it. And then, like, my dad, if he’s at work or whatever, he just sits at home otherwise.
Lucy: What does your step-dad do?
Jessica: He works in prison service in Hull, as a, like, a prison officer. So, like, I don’t know.
Lucy: What do you think about that, because he’s working with some pretty rough criminals there, I guess?
Jessica: Well, I thought, well, he can really protect hisself, cause, like, he’s been, like, someone’s come up behind him with a knife and that, so he can protect hisself, so I don’t know, I just don’t really think about it. And my mum’s, like, a cleaner at Qu, Queen’s, so. And me and my sister just go to school.
Lucy: And what’s school like? Which school do you go to and what’s it like?
Jessica: I go Withernsea High School, but, like, I like it, cause, Oh God! I’ve lived here all my life, so I’m with people who I know, but, like, when, once you get into High School, people from different villages come in, so you meet, like, different people. And you’re put with different, like, people that you don’t know, so you have to get to know them all. And, like, now I’m in, like, my th, my second to last year, so I’ve got next year and that’s it. And you had, we had to pick some subjects, you know, for this year. And I picked, like, for technology I picked food. I picked media studies, which is, like, like journalism and that. Uhm, can’t remember and child care, which, I like that. I can’t remember what else I picked. Oh, sociology.
Lucy: And what’s it like, I mean, what, what do you, are you, are you kind of good at school? Do you get stuck in? Or are you kind of quite, is your, is your class quite, quite rowdy, or, or what happens?
Jessica: Well, like, well, my form is, like, I don’t knock about with people in my form. I knock about with someone, like, some other people. And, uhm, they’re all real quiet and, you know, get on with their work. But, like, there’s me and I’m, like, real, like, loud and that. But they are all, they’re all right and I, I do my work, but now we’ve split up into different, so we’re not with our form any more, so, just sit with loads of different people [laughs].
Lucy: And what’s it like? What, you, you have friends, you say they’re not in your classroom?
Jessica: Yeah. And, like, they come from, like, villages and that.
Lucy: Do you only see them at school time then really?
Jessica: Well, there’s one of them; she’s called Sally and, like, I see, we, she’s one of, like, another one of my good mates and I, like, with her at school and then she’s, like, sometimes comes down here, you know, stay at each other’s houses and that.
Lucy: And what do you, what sort of music do you listen to and what sort of videos do you watch or what sort of shops do you go to or whatever?
Jessica: Well, I listen to, I like Backstreet Boys, but, like, they han’t brought a song out for ages, but I just like, listening to, like, real nice songs, but not, like, I don’t mind rave, rave’s all right, but I prefer just, like, pop songs and that. Uhm, I like watching, like, like, Titanic and, you know, films like that. Cause I like Leonardo DiCaprio, but …
Lucy: What about, have you been to any, like, parties and stuff like that?
Jessica: Well, I went to a Christmas party; it was in Burton Pidsey. And there was loads of people there. It was, it was quite a good party. I don’t usually get, like, go to most of them, but that one I thought I’d go to and it was all right and that’s when I stayed at my mate’s house.
Lucy: And what’s the situation with you and, like, boys?
Jessica: Oh well, I han’t got one at the minute, but there’s this kid who I’ve been out with, like, loads of times. But he, he’s just split up with his girlfriend and we get on, like, as real good friends, but I don’t, I aren’t really, like, I don’t know. You, I’m, most, everyone, all the lads and that I’m friends with, you know, in my year, there’s some lot that are all right in the year above, but, I don’t know. Some of them are all right in our year, but I’m friends with, like, all of them, so, I don’t know. You wouldn’t think of asking them out, cause they’re your friends and that. So I don’t know.
Lucy: Have you been out with boys, though, as, like, boyfriends?
Jessica: Yeah. I’ve been, I’ve been out with quite a lot, yeah. But the really, the serious one was, like, Rob, who I’m just talking about, who I’m friends with now. I don’t know.
Lucy: whats it like here
Jessica: its (1.0) it is (0.5) its all right but theres like (0.5) hardly anything to do (2.0) so i think they should (0.5) just like (1.0) put somewhere we can we can like knock about in (1.0) but (0.5) no i dont know
Lucy: so what do you do when youre out of school what do you get up to
Jessica: well i go for my best mate who lives round the corner she’s called jodie and (1.0) on a in a winter (0.5) we like (0.5) just stay in her house or watch the kid (0.5) like all the lads skateboarding and that (1.0) thats it really
Lucy: but its not very interesting then is there not much to do
Jessica: no (1.0) theres not (0.5) not much
Lucy: was it better what were things like when you were younger and you lived here
Jessica: i dont know we just found things to do do you know when i was little and i used to like if she wasnt playing or aught i used to play on my own and just (1.0) find something to entertain myself
Lucy: like (0.5) can you remember what sort of things
Jessica: uh no i cant remember (1.0) just like (0.5) play with my toys and that (1.0) and like (0.5) take my prams out and things like that (1.0) that (2.0) thats it
Lucy: can you tell me what your bedrooms like here and how it how it connects with uhm with your sisters and how it fits into the house and everything
Jessica: well (0.5) like mine i wanted mine like peach and green (1.0) but mum (0.5) did it (0.5) like my sisters as well (1.0) weve got the same bedcovers and that and like ive got pine (1.0) like wardrobe and things (1.0) uhm i dont know
Lucy: and can you tell me how it just sort of connects to
Jessica: oh well its (2.0) when we first moved here it was like two bedrooms and this was the bigger one but we put a wall down (0.5) the middle so its two separate ones
Lucy: and why did you move here
Jessica: uhm (1.0) well we lived in the flat (1.0) and then kelsey was born and then (1.0) moved into an house but it (1.0) we didnt like it cause it was right up that end and were used to living round here (1.0) cause we used to live in a flat round the corner (0.5) and then we got this one (3.0) and then i knew like everyone round here though cause like id lived here before so (1.5) it was all right we only lived there for about five weeks there
Lucy: and how come you were you were saying or that that uhm its not you dont live with your real dad here hes your stepfather
Jessica: yeah (0.5) when i was two like my dad left (1.0) us i think i was two anyway (0.5) so like ive never seen him since then but (1.0) i arent that bothered about it cause i thought well if he doesnt want to see me then fine (0.5) but id like to see like meet him when im older (1.0) and see like whether he thinks about me and that (1.0) but i arent really bothered about it cause hes like a real dad to me (0.5) so
Lucy: so your stepfathers like a real dad to you
Jessica: yeah (2.0) yeah
Lucy: and what what how how does it work out in the family how do you kind of (1.0) you know share things out or do things together or do your own things
Jessica: well (1.0) i dont know really
Lucy: tell me i mean (1.0) sorry carry on
Jessica: i dont know
Lucy: if it if its like the weekend what happens what do you all get up to do you do things together or do you
Jessica: no we just do us separate things like i go out and like my mum (0.5) i dont know sits at home watching telly (1.0) or she goes round to clean the community centre or she goes to my grandmas or but (0.5) like me and my mate go swimming and that (1.5) or just like sit down and listen to music in her house (3.0) thats it (0.5) and then like my dad if hes at work or (1.0) whatever (1.0) he just sits at home (0.5) otherwise
Lucy: what does your stepdad d
Jessica: he works in prison service in hull (2.0) as a (0.5) like a prison officer (1.0) so like i dont know
Lucy: what do you think about that because hes working with some pretty rough criminals there i guess
Jessica: well i thought well (0.5) he can really protect hisself cause like hes been (1.0) like someones come up behind him with a knife and that so he can protect hisself so (1.0) i dont know i just dont really think about it (1.5) and my mums like a cleaner at qu, queens so (2.0) and me and my sister just go to school
Lucy: and whats school like which school do you go to and whats it like
Jessica: i go withernsea high school but (1.0) like i like it cause like oh god (1.0) ive (1.5) lived here all my life so im with people who i know but like when once you get into high school (0.5) people from different villages (1.0) come in so you meet like (1.0) different people (2.0) and youre put with different like people that you dont know (0.5) so you have to get to know them all (2.0) and like now im in like (0.5) my th my (0.5) second to last year so ive got next year and thats it (1.0) and you had we had to pick some subjects you know (1.0) for this year and i picked like for technology i picked food (1.5) i picked media studies which is like (0.5) like (1.0) journalism and that (0.5) uhm (3.5) cant remember and child care (1.0) which i like that (2.5) i cant remember what else i picked (1.0) oh sociology
Lucy: and whats it like i mean what what do you are you are you kind of good at school do you get stuck in or are you kind of quite (0.5) is your is your class quite quite rowdy or or what happens
Jessica: well like (0.5) well my form is like (1.0) i dont knock about with people in my form (1.0) i knock about with someone like some other people (0.5) and uhm (3.0) theyre all real quiet and you know get on with their work but like theres me and im like real like loud and that (1.5) but (2.0) they are all (0.5) theyre all right and i i do my work (0.5) but now weve split up into different so were not with our form any more so (2.0) just sit with loads of (0.5) different people [laughs]
Lucy: and whats it like what you you have friends you say theyre not in your classroom
Jessica: yeah (2.5) and like they come from (0.5) like villages (1.0) and that
Lucy: do you only see them at school time then really
Jessica: well (1.0) theres one of them shes called sally and (1.0) like i see we shes one of like another one of my good mates and (1.0) i like with her at school (0.5) and then shes like sometimes comes down here (1.0) you know stay at each others houses and that
Lucy: and what do you what sort of music do you listen to and what sort of videos do you watch or what sort of shops do you go to or whatever
Jessica: well (3.0) i listen to i like backstreet boys but like they hant brought a song out for ages but i just like listening to like (0.5) real nice songs but not like (0.5) i dont mind rave raves all right but (1.5) i prefer just like pop songs and that (1.0) uhm (2.0) i like watching like (1.0) like titanic and you know films like that (1.0) cause i like leonardo dicaprio but
Luvy: what about have you been to any like parties and stuff like that
Jessica: well i went to a christmas party it was in burton pidsey (1.0) and there was loads of people there it was it was quite a good party i dont usually get like (0.5) go to most of them (1.0) but that one i thought id go to and it was all right and thats when i stayed at my mates house
Lucy: and whats the situation with you and like boys
Jessica: oh well (1.0) i hant got one at the minute but theres this kid who (1.0) ive been out with like loads of times (1.0) but he hes just split up with his girlfriend and we get on like as (0.5) real good friends (0.5) but (1.0) i dont i arent really like (2.0) i dont know (0.5) you im most (0.5) everyone all the lads and that im friends with (0.5) you know in my year theres some lot that are all right in the year above but (1.0) i dont know (0.5) some of them are all right in our year but im friends with like all of them so (1.0) i dont know (0.5) you wouldnt think of asking them out cause theyre your friends and that (1.0) so i dont know
Lucy: have you been out with boys though as like boyfriends
Jessica: yeah (1.0) ive been ive been out with quite a lot yeah (1.5) but (3.0) the really (0.5) the serious one was like rob who im just talking about (0.5) who im friends with now (1.5) i dont know
 Hull (Kingston-upon-Hull) is a large city and major port to the west of Withernsea.
 The Backstreet Boys are a US boy-band formed in 1992.
 Titanic was a 1997 film that broke box-office records.
 Leonardo DiCaprio (b. 1974/11/11 in Hollywood, California) is a US actor.
 Burton Pidsey is a village just to the north-west of Withernsea.
- Hull accent: Jessica talks about family, friends and social life
- Sound recording
- © BBC
- Usage terms
- Except as otherwise permitted by your national copyright laws this material may not be copied or distributed further.
- Held by
- British Library
- Article by:
- Jonnie Robinson
- Regional voices: English across the UK, Your Voices: contemporary accents of the UK
Do you pronounce words like ‘bath’, ‘grass’ and ‘dance’, with a short vowel, as in cat, or with a long vowel, like the sound you make when a doctor examines your throat? Discover the origins of this important distinction in British accents and explore how differences in pronunciation can reveal our local and regional identities.
- Article by:
- Jonnie Robinson
- Your Voices: contemporary accents of the UK, Regional voices: English across the UK
When feeling ‘pleased’ we might say we are ‘chuffed’, ‘delighted’, ‘happy as a sandboy’, ‘over the moon’, ‘tickled pink’ or ‘thrilled to bits’. Discover how speakers use English differently according to age, gender, ethnicity and social or educational background and explore how people adapt their speech according to context and audience.
- Article by:
- Jonnie Robinson
- Received Pronunciation
Vowel sounds are one of the most useful ways to analyse and compare English accents. A typical RP accent contains between 20 and 22 vowel sounds but not all RP speakers are alike. Listen to the range of vowel sounds that exist in present-day Received Pronunciation.