The Info List - Brummie

--- Advertisement ---

or Brummy is the English dialect of Birmingham, England. The term "Brummie" derives from Brummagem or Bromwichham, historical variants of the name Birmingham. It is also a demonym for people from Birmingham. It is not the only accent of the West Midlands although the term Brummie
is often erroneously used in referring to all accents of the region.[2] It is markedly distinct from the traditional accent of the adjacent Black Country
Black Country
although modern-day population mobility has tended to blur the distinction. For instance, Dudley-born comedian Lenny Henry, Walsall-born rock musician Noddy Holder, Smethwick-reared actress Julie Walters, Wollaston-born soap actress Jan Pearson, West Bromwich-born comedian Frank Skinner, are sometimes mistaken for Brummie-speakers by people outside the West Midlands county. Additionally, population mobility has meant that to a degree, the Brummie
accent extends into some parts of the Metropolitan Borough of Solihull, but much of the accent within the borough might be considered to be closer to contemporary RP. For example, Solihull-born presenter Richard Hammond
Richard Hammond
(despite often being referred to as a Brummie) does not speak with a strong Brummie
accent but is identifiably from the West Midlands. The Brummie
accent and the Coventry accent are also quite distinct in their differences, despite only 19 miles (31 km) separating the cities. To the untrained ear, however, all of these accents may sound very similar, just as British English
British English
speakers may find it hard to distinguish between different North American accents or Australian and New Zealand accents.


1 In popular culture 2 Pronunciation 3 Stereotypes 4 Dialect 5 See also 6 References 7 External links

In popular culture[edit]

Ozzy Osbourne
Ozzy Osbourne
is known for his Brummie

Examples of celebrity speakers include TV presenter Adrian Chiles, comedian Jasper Carrott, Goodies actor and TV presenter Bill Oddie, hip-hop and garage musician Mike Skinner, rock musicians Ozzy Osbourne (and all other members of the original Black Sabbath), Roy Wood, Jeff Lynne (ELO founders), Rob Halford
Rob Halford
(Judas Priest), Barney Greenway (Napalm Death), Dave Pegg
Dave Pegg
(of Fairport Convention
Fairport Convention
and Jethro Tull), broadcaster Les Ross, politician Clare Short, SAS soldier and author John "Brummie" Stokes, and many actresses and actors including Martha Howe-Douglas, Donnaleigh Bailey, Nicolas Woodman, Sarah Smart, John Oliver and Ryan Cartwright. Pronunciation[edit]

This article contains IPA phonetic symbols. Without proper rendering support, you may see question marks, boxes, or other symbols instead of Unicode
characters. For an introductory guide on IPA symbols, see Help:IPA.

Phoneme Brummie example

/æ/ [a] trap

/aʊ/ [æʊ~æə] mouth

/eɪ/ [ʌɪ] face

/əʊ/ [ɑʊ] goat

/ʌ/ [ʊ] strut

/ʊ/ [ʊ] foot

/ɔr/ [ʌʊə] force

The strength of a person's accent varies greatly all across Birmingham.[2] Like most cities, the accent changes relative to the area of the city. A common misconception is that everyone in Birmingham
speaks the same accent. It could be argued Brummie
is an accent rather than a dialect as in Black Country, which is a dialect with unique words and phrases, as in owamya? for how are you, which many comment is not used in Brummie
speech. Similarly Brummies pronounce I as 'oy' whereas Black Country
Black Country
uses the dialect 'Ah' as in 'Ah bin' meaning I have been. There are also differences between Brummie
and Black Country
Black Country
accents not readily apparent to people from outside the West Midlands.[2] A Black Country
Black Country
accent and a Birmingham
accent can be hard to distinguish if neither accent is that broad. The phonetician John Wells has admitted that he cannot tell any difference between the accents.[4] Urszula Clark has proposed the FACE vowel as a difference, with Birmingham
speakers' using /ʌɪ/ and Black Country
Black Country
speakers' using /æɪ/.[5] She also mentions that Black Country
Black Country
speakers are more likely to use /ɪʊ/ where most other accents use /juː/ (in words such as new, Hugh, stew, etc.).[6] This /ɪʊ/ is also present in some North American dialects for words like eww, grew, new due, etc., contrasting with /u/ (words like boo, zoo, to, too, moon, dune etc.). Other North American dialects may use /ju/ for this purpose, or even make no distinction at all. Below are some common features of a recognisable Brummie
accent (a given speaker may not necessarily use all, or use a feature consistently). The letters enclosed in square brackets – [] – use the International Phonetic Alphabet. The corresponding example words in italics are spelt so that a reader using Received Pronunciation (RP) can approximate the sounds.

The vowel of mouth (RP [aʊ]) can be [æʊ] or [æə] The vowel of goat (RP [əʊ]) can be close to [ɑʊ] (so to an RP speaker, goat may sound like "gout") Final unstressed /i/, as in happy, may be realized as [əi], though this varies considerably between speakers The letters ng often represent /ŋɡ/ where RP has just /ŋ/ (e.g. singer as [siŋɡə]). See Ng-coalescence Both the vowels of strut and foot are pronounced [ʊ], as in northern England. See foot–strut split The majority of Brummies use the Northern [a] in words like bath, cast and chance, although the South-Eastern [ɑː] is more common amongst older speakers.[7] The vowels in price and choice may be almost merged as [ɒɪ] so that the two words would almost rhyme. However, the two are still distinct, unlike in the Black Country
Black Country
dialect. In more old-fashioned Brummie
accents, the FORCE set of words takes [ʌʊə] and the PURE set takes [uːə], so both sets were in two syllables. In such an old-fashioned accent, the words paw, pour and poor would all be said differently: [pɔː], [pʌʊə], [puːə]. In more modern accents, all three are said as [pɔː][8] Final unstressed /ə/ may be realised as [a] In a few cases, voicing of final /s/ (e.g. bus as [bʊz]) Some tapping of prevocalic /r/ (some speakers; e.g. in crime or there is)

Recordings of Brummie
speakers with phonetic features described in SAMPA
format can be found at the Collect Britain dialects site.[9] Rhymes and vocabulary in the works of William Shakespeare
William Shakespeare
suggest that he used a local dialect, with many historians and scholars arguing that Shakespeare used a Stratford-upon-Avon, Brummie, Cotswald, Warwickshire
or other Midlands dialect in his work.[10] However, the veracity of this assertion is not accepted by all historians.[11] Stereotypes[edit] According to Birmingham
English: A Sociolinguistic Study (Steve Thorne, 2003), among UK listeners " Birmingham
English in previous academic studies and opinion polls consistently fares as the most disfavoured variety of British English, yet with no satisfying account of the dislike". He alleges that, overseas visitors in contrast find it "lilting and melodious", and from this claims that such dislike is driven by various linguistic myths and social factors peculiar to the UK ("social snobbery, negative media stereotyping, the poor public image of the City of Birmingham, and the north/south geographical and linguistic divide"). For instance, despite the city's cultural and innovative history, its industrial background (as depicted by the arm-and-hammer in Birmingham's coat of arms) has led to a muscular and unintelligent stereotype: a " Brummagem screwdriver" is UK slang for a hammer.[12] Steve Thorne also cites the mass media and entertainment industry where actors, usually non-Birmingham, have used inaccurate accents and/or portrayed negative roles. Advertisements are another medium where many perceive stereotypes. Journalist Lydia Stockdale, writing in the Birmingham
Post,[13] commented on advertisers' association of Birmingham
accents with pigs: the pig in the ad for Colman's Potato Bakes, Nick Park's Hells Angel Pigs for British Gas and ITV's "Dave the window-cleaner pig" all had Brummie
accents. In 2003, a Halifax bank advertisement featuring Howard Brown, a Birmingham- born and based employee, was replaced by an animated version with an exaggerated comical accent overdubbed by a Cockney
actor.[14] Dialect[edit] According to the PhD
thesis of Steve Thorne at the University of Birmingham
Department of English,[citation needed] Birmingham
English is "a dialectal hybrid of northern, southern, Midlands, Warwickshire, Staffordshire
and Worcestershire
speech", also with elements from the languages and dialects of its Asian and Afro-Caribbean communities. Traditional expressions include:[15][dead link]

Babby  variation of "baby" Bab  variation of "babe" Bawlin, bawl  to weep, as in "She started to bawl" (not unique to Birmingham, common in Australia) Bottler  a popular and enjoyable song Cob  a crusty bread roll (comes from the fact that bread rolls look like street cobbles and may be as hard as one; soft bread rolls are known as rolls or baps) Fock  a milder and more nuanced version of the swear word Gambol  a West Midlands term for a forward roll Go and play up your own end  said to children from a different street making a nuisance. It has been used as the title of the autobiographical book and musical play about the Birmingham
childhood of radio presenter and entertainer Malcolm Stent Our wench  affectionate term, meaning 'sister' or sometimes used by a husband referring to his wife; derived from the older 16th and 17th meaning of "woman" The outdoor  exclusive West Midlands term for off-licence Pop  another word for a carbonated drink, e.g. "Do you want a glass of pop?". (common in other parts of England) Snap  food, a meal, allegedly derived from the act of eating itself (example usage "I'm off to get my snap" equates to "I'm leaving to get my dinner"). May also refer to the tin containing lunch, a "snap tin", as taken down the pit by miners Scrage a scratched cut, where skin is sliced off. For example, "I fell over and badly scraged my knee" Suff  another word for drain, as in "put it down the suff" Throw a wobbly  to become sulky or have a tantrum (not unique to Birmingham, common in Australia) Trap  to leave suddenly, or flee Up the cut  up the canal (not unique to Birmingham) Yampy  (often "dead yampy") mad, daft, barmy (also used is the word "saft", as in "yow big saft babby"). Many Black Country
Black Country
folk[specify] believe "yampy" is a Black Country
Black Country
word, originating from the Dudley-Tipton area, which has been appropriated and claimed as their own by both Birmingham
and Coventry dialects, although yampy is found in areas of the black country both outside Birmingham
and Tipton/ Dudley
so might have been a general south Staffordshire
and north Worcestershire areas.

See also[edit]

Black Country Potteries dialect (North Staffordshire)


^ "UK Population Estimates" Archived 2014-08-10 at the Wayback Machine.. ONS. Retrieved 28 June 2014 ^ a b c Simon Elmes (2006). Talking for Britain: a journey through the voices of a nation. Penguin. p. 130.  ^ "Why is the Birmingham
accent so difficult to mimic?". BBC. 12 December 2016.  ^ Wells, John (2011-06-13). "John Wells's phonetic blog: the Black Country". Phonetic-blog.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2014-05-18.  ^ Handbook of Varieties of English, Mouton de Gruyter, 2004, page 148 ^ Handbook of Varieties of English, Mouton de Gruyter, 2004, page 151 ^ Handbook of Varieties of English, Mouton de Gruyter, 2004, pages 145-6 ^ John Wells, Accents of English, page 364, Cambridge University Press, 1981. ^ Collect Britain Archived 2005-05-21 at the Wayback Machine., Samples of Birmingham
speech. (WMA format, with annotations on phonology, lexis and grammar.) ^ Metro reporter (29 August 2003). "Bard spoke loik a Brummie". Evening Standard. Retrieved 24 February 2018.  ^ Finch, Ellen (27 March 2016). "Shakespeare 'did not' use Midland dialect, claims academic". The Birmingham
Post. Retrieved 24 February 2018.  ^ Eric Partridge (2 May 2006). A Dictionary of Slang and Unconventional English. Routledge. p. 142. ISBN 978-1-134-96365-2.  ^ "Pig ignorant about the Brummie
accent" Birmingham
Post, 2 December 2004 (From The Free Library) ^ Face of the Halifax given a makeover ... and a cockney's voiceover, The Guardian, 20 January 2003. ^ Birmingham
Mail Survey

External links[edit]

This article's use of external links may not follow's policies or guidelines. Please improve this article by removing excessive or inappropriate external links, and converting useful links where appropriate into footnote references. (May 2014) (Learn how and when to remove this template message)

How to Speak Brummie Talk
Like A Brummie
A wiki-based Birmingham
dialect dictionary ebrummie.co.uk Dr Steve Thorne's website devoted to the study of Brummie, including a dictionary, MP3 speech samples, discussion of his research on stereotypes, etc. Birmingham
English sample using a test paragraph including most English sounds: George Mason University Speech Accent Archive. Compare a Dudley
(Black Country) sample Sounds Familiar? Listen to examples of regional accents and dialects from across the UK on the British Library's 'Sounds Familiar' website Why Brummies Why not Birmies? Etymological article by Dr Carl Chinn Brummie
and Black Country
Black Country
sayings Brummie
is beautiful BBC News, 28 August 2003 Brummie
is Beautiful! University of Birmingham
press release about Dr Steve Thorne's PhD
thesis, Birmingham
English: A Sociolinguistic Study Paul Henry on Benny's accent Noele Gordon and Crossroads Appreciation Society interview English Accents and Dialects, British Library : Sue Long, Aubrey Walton, Harry Phillips and Billy Lucas. English Accents and Dialects, Warwickshire
speakers - William Sewell of Hockley Heath, Mr Calcutt of Aston Cantlow, Mr Duckett of Lighthorne, and Harry Cook of Shipston-on-Stour - show progressive accent change moving south-east from Birmingham
across isogloss Whoohoo Brummie

v t e

Dialects and accents of Modern English by continent


United Kingdom

Received Pronunciation


Varieties by common name

Barrovian Black Country Brummie Bristolian Cheshire Cockney


Cornish Cumbrian East Anglian East Midlands Essex Estuary Geordie Kentish Lancastrian Mackem Mancunian Multicultural London Norfolk Northern Pitmatic Potteries Scouse Southern Suffolk Sussex West Country


West Midlands Yorkshire

Varieties by geographic location

East of England

Essex Norfolk Suffolk

East Midlands North

Cheshire Cumbria


Lancashire Manchester Merseyside Northumbria

Sunderland Tyneside Pitmatic



Kent Thames Estuary; London

Multicultural London


West Country

Bristol Cornwall Dorset

West Midlands

Black Country Birmingham Stoke-on-Trent

Northern Ireland

Mid Ulster Ulster Scots


Glasgow Highlands


Cardiff Gower Port Talbot






Supraregional Ulster

Channel Islands

Alderney Guernsey Jersey


Gibraltar Isle of Man Malta

North and South America

United States

Varieties by common name

African American Appalachian Boston Cajun California Chicago; Detroit; Great Lakes Chicano Mid-Atlantic

Philadelphia; South Jersey Baltimorese

General American High Tider Maine Miami Midland Midwestern New England New Mexican New York Old Southern Pacific Northwest Pennsylvania Dutch Pittsburghese Rhode Island Southern Texan Upper Midwestern Western Vermont Yat Yeshivish Yooper

Varieties by geographic location

Delaware Valley; Mid-Atlantic

Pennsylvania Dutch Philadelphia; South Jersey Baltimore

Midland Midwest

Great Lakes; Inland North Upper Midwest Upper Peninsula of Michigan

New England

Boston Maine Rhode Island Vermont

New York City; Northeastern New Jersey

New York Latino

North South

Acadiana Appalachia Chesapeake; Pamlico Miami New Orleans Texas


California New Mexico Pacific Northwest

Western Pennsylvania


Aboriginal Atlantic

Cape Breton Newfoundland Lunenburg


Ottawa Valley Pacific Northwest Quebec


Bahamas Barbados Dominican Republic Jamaica Puerto Rico Trinidad


Bermuda Falkland Islands Guyana



Aboriginal Broad; Strine General South Australian Torres Strait West Australian


Fiji New Zealand Palau Solomon Islands

Other continents


Cameroon Ghana Kenya Liberia Malawi Namibia Nigeria Sierra Leone South Africa


Cultivated General Broad Cape Flats

Black Indian



Bangladesh Brunei Burma or Myanmar Hong Kong India Malaysia Nepal Pakistan Philippines S